Is your fulfillment technology helping your brand or letting your customers down? Fulfillment technology plays an integral part contributing to – or detracting from – customer happiness in every ecommerce experience. It is one of the biggest differences between online shopping and traditional brick and mortar stores. The challenge: it’s hard to beat the thrill of leaving a store, merchandise in hand. Double if you’re talking about a blue Tiffany & Co. box or Bloomingdale’s Little Brown Bag. After all, packaging can be a status symbol in and of itself.
How can you get your goods delivered as quickly as possible, amaze and delight customers, and still control cost?
The answer lies in sophisticated fulfillment technology that deeply integrates the digital and the physical worlds. Here are some key ways your technology should work for your brand:
When customers shop your website, they should only see products that are in stock. In other words, real time inventory is correctly reflected, reducing attempts to buy out of stock items.
When a product is purchased, the order is routed to a network of warehouses. The closest warehouse is selected based on shipping address. Fast delivery and lowered shippping costs are simultaneously achieved.
Realtime Rate Shopping
Shipping rates are shopped and the least expensive carrier is relayed to the warehouse.
Packaging reflects your brand and packs a “Wow!” Customized packaging, branded inserts, coupons, freebies, and surprise gifts help replicate the in-store experience. Don’t waste this opportunity by letting your fulfillment center brand a box with its own labels. Think of box-opening as “the big reveal” and use packaging to make a stellar first impression.
Returns & Exchanges
Easy returns & changes. No business can make every customer happy, but making it easy to return and exchange items fosters customer goodwill and encourages future sales.
Real-time tracking: keep your customers informed, and you’ll reduce the load on your customer service team. Make sure your fulfillment technology allows customers to accurately track packages and know when they’ll arrive.
At the end of the day, it still counts. Technology can help minimize customer service calls, but customers should be able to reach a real human being. And once they’re on the line, your customer service reps need instant access to a customer’s purchase history and shipping details. The ability to quickly understand if this is a first time purchase, a power purchaser, or a gift card purchase arms the service rep with the intelligence to balance “making it right” for the customer and minimizing negative impact on your business.
According to Mike Duke, president and CEO of Walmart (the 4th largest internet retailer in the world), “[t]he biggest opportunity we have is winning the intersection between physical and digital retail.”
For fulfillment to be a success, your online presence must interact seamlessly with your real world resources. If you’re not nailing each of the points outlined above, then you’re not reaping the benefits of a deeply integrated shipping and fulfillment technology. Sound daunting?
Ask yourself: are your competitors delivering a higher level of customer service through technology and automation?
If the answer is yes, you’re leaving money on the table by not exploring your options. Your customer is king, no matter what size your brand is. So remember to wow them every step of the way.