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Peak Season 2020: 5 Ways to Improve The Customer Experience

In holiday seasons past, retailers were able to use brick-and-mortar stores to provide a positive – and often memorable – customer experience. From the moment a customer entered a physical store, he or she could be courted (Festive decorations!  Holiday music!  Free gift-wrapping services!) into making any number of purchases – all of which he or she could take home the very same day.  Assuming the customer was satisfied with his/her purchases once at home, in-store holiday shopping was the ultimate in customer experience.

In the midst of a global pandemic, however, customers will likely forego in-store shopping and make the majority of their holiday purchases online.  And absent the live music, aromatic displays, and sample stations, how can a retailer create a memorable customer experience this holiday season?

The good news is that there is an opportunity to create a positive customer experience in supply chain execution.  Free or discounted shipping, on-time delivery, and proactive delivery event communication can go a long way toward winning customer loyalty.  The bad news is that in this year’s online shopping landscape, where carrier capacity is tight and shipping rates are high, supply chain execution is not without its obstacles.

Recognizing the unique construct of this year’s peak season, smart retailers are planning now to get supply chain and logistics operations right to improve the customer experience.

5 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience During Peak Season 2020

1. Improve delivery speed

Customers want instant gratification, and shipping behemoths such as Amazon have made two-day product delivery the industry standard. To keep pace, it’s therefore critical for retailers to decrease their lead times by fulfilling orders quickly and working with reliable carriers to maintain on time delivery rates.  It’s important to note here that regional carriers can be the key to faster, cheaper, and more flexible delivery services, usually offering next-day ground delivery within 400 miles of a shipment’s origin – often at a lower rate and with fewer surcharges than the national carriers.

2. Provide delivery flexibility

Conditioned by large, online providers’ innovative services, modern consumers now have high expectations of their shopping experience.  They expect more than just easy product selection and ultra-fast or same-day delivery; they also want to choose when, where, and how they receive their order. By allowing customers to pick the delivery timeframe, location (doorstep, curbside pick-up, BOPIS, etc.) and rate, retailers can give their customers additional flexibility.

3. Offer free shipping

In a 2018 survey by Internet Retailer, shipping charges were cited as the most common reason shoppers abandon their carts. And similar findings were echoed in NRF’s quarterly Consumer View 2019 report, in which 75 percent of consumers reported they expect free shipping, including on orders less than $50.  For retailers looking to increase online sales this holiday season and recoup in-store losses caused by the pandemic, this is likely unwelcome news.  After all, absorbing shipping costs reduces margins.  However, to reduce costs, retailers can design free shipping offers so they are only available for longer lead times or minimum order amounts or offer free shipping for a limited time as a holiday promotion.

4. Provide shipment tracking

Beware: offering Amazon-like delivery services and free shipping isn’t enough to win repeat purchases.  A recent study from BigCommerce states that if an order is delivered incorrectly, late, or not at all, 29% of end customers won’t order again from the same retailer.  And the lost sales opportunities don’t stop there.  Consumers today share their negative experiences with the world on various social media channels and review sites, which means a bad experience with parcel delivery can quickly lead to the further loss of potential customers.  Not surprising, customers want to be confident their product will arrive at its destination on time, and they are now demanding real-time delivery tracking.

5. Send delivery alerts

In addition to delivery tracking, real-time alerts manage customers’ expectations when unwanted delivery events occur and give them the opportunity to troubleshoot.  For example, perhaps the product can be sent from a different distribution center to arrive on time. Or perhaps the customer is willing to retrieve the product from a nearby store or locker. Providing updates when there has been a delivery disruption reassures customers everything possible is being done to meet the original delivery promise and ultimately demonstrates to customers their business is valued.

Multi-Carrier Parcel Management Technology Keeps Online Customers Coming Back

eCommerce checklist for peak season

To successfully execute this holiday season and keep customers coming back, retailers need cloud multi-carrier parcel management technology.  With the effective use of cloud multi-carrier shipping solutions, companies are able to efficiently ship goods worldwide at the lowest possible price and gain a competitive advantage by:

  • Maximizing the customer experience by offering fast and flexible services, increased delivery transparency, and proactive responses to their individual needs
  • Managing carriers to ensure compliance and avoid delivery delays due to incorrect labels and documentation
  • Rate shopping with contractual partners to select the best carrier service for each shipment according to customer preferences and business rules
  • Identifying and quickly on-boarding new carriers to better leverage last mile services and expand into international markets
  • Eliminating labor intensive tasks such as invoice reconciliation
  • Leveraging Business Intelligence (BI) tools to uncover savings opportunities

Improve the Customer Experience for Peak Season Today

This year’s peak season will be different, and to help you improve the customer experience you’ll need the help of a best-of-breed system such as Logistyx TME to provide your customers with a flexible, efficient, and transparent customer experience. To learn more about Logistyx TME, contact an expert today.