Touching the Customer
In today’s ecommerce environment, it is not enough to have a website and product. You have to have an “experience,” and preferably a positive and memorable one. Setting yourself apart, directly connecting with the customer and driving loyalty are more important than ever.
Most ecommerce companies tackle these issues with amazing web designs, interactive curating, competitive pricing, loyalty programs, and other endless features, offers, and programs. Companies measure all sorts of acronyms; LTV, PCR, and CAR; just a spoonful of the alphabet soup that serves as today’s ecommerce metrics.
But, what about the physical experience? The most common answer, “It’s all virtual. You know, on the web. There is not an actual physical experience.” Wrong.
For every ecommerce order of a physical product, there is a box, bag or envelop. When a customer picks up their package, it is the first time they physically touch your company; and that is a powerful event.
All the best web features in the world cannot make up for a late shipment, backorder, canceled order, and/or shipping damage. Order delivery is the final step in the order lifecycle and sometimes the worst. Bad order fulfillment can make or break a customer’s decision to ever order from your company again.
The customer may complain, call customer service, leave a review or tell nasty stories to their friends. Or…they may just quietly walk away. Moving on to the next website that sells exactly what you sell, at the same price, and on the same web platform. It’s called “dogs not barking,” and it can be frightening.
So what goes into a positive and sticky order delivery experience? Three things: Inventory, Shipping, and Packaging.
Do you have it? Is it in a sellable condition? Are you going oversell? When the customer checked out you said you had it; now you don’t. WTH?
Customer disappointment (or delight) starts with inventory. Even the most beautiful website wouldn’t soothe a customer when you cancel their order. Inventory accuracy is a pillar of excellent customer experience.
Investing in solid OMS solutions and rigorous inventory hygiene ensures solid customer delivery. Technology that provides insights, selling thresholds and low inventory alerting is key to fast scaling and growth.
Does speed matter? In the world of Amazon Prime, the resounding answer is “YES!”. However, it depends. Does your brand or demographic demand 2-day air? Will your product arrive melted, defrosted or just gross with 3-5 day shipping?
Providing 2-day air can eat away at margins and inhibit profits, not great long term strategies. Replenishment orders can be predicted and utilize slower ground shipping to save money. Some products do not reflect pricy shipping options and may deter customers.
Spend some time with marketing and customer service, understand their point of view. Then you can offer shipping speeds and prices that reflect your brands, your customer and your experience.
It’s just a box, right? Nope. It’s an experience. Does your company tout carbon offsetting and environmentally friendly? Do your virgin pulp boxes, packed full of styrofoam peanuts, and glossy leaflets say “environmentally friendly”? No, it does not. It screams, “I can’t walk the talk.”
Packaging is not just about shipping sh*t in a box. It’s about product integrity, recycling, cost savings; and most importantly it is about touching the customer. So what does your box say about you?