‘The customer is always right’ as they say, but how much truth is there to this?

In recent times, the gap between retailers and customers has grown, especially when it comes to how they view the post-purchase experience. For example, a recent survey found that only 18% of retail leaders believe the post-purchase experience could be significantly improved — meanwhile, 80% of consumers think the process could be improved.  

This is highlighting a discrepancy between what retail leaders think about the delivery journey and what consumers think. One thing both brands and consumers can agree on is the overall importance of post-purchase experiences, with 93% of consumers and 74% of retailers believing they are important.  

However, the notable 19% gap between these two demographics emphasises the need for retailers to make further efforts in meeting customer expectations. In today’s market, consumers are less loyal than before, meaning that if a retailer fails to meet their needs, they will readily seek out another retailer who can fulfil their requirements.

So, how can retailers best bridge the gap and avoid a costly fall in loyalty?  

1. Communicate proactively to reduce ‘where is my order’ (WISMO) angst

When it comes to delivery, it’s best to be in the know. If all goes well, the customer should receive a simple timeline of updates that pan out as: dispatched > in transit > out for delivery > delivered. Job done.

positive delivery experience

It’s not always that simple though, is it? Parcel mishaps are part and parcel of the job. As we continue to navigate a cost-of-living crisis, data earlier this year illustrated that a significant majority of consumers (85%) hold little or no confidence that their online deliveries will arrive on time and undamaged. This is the point when effective delivery communication is even more essential — around the same number of consumers (87%) said they would trust a brand more if they had more effectively communicated the delivery status.

If customers are left in the dark, that’s when WISMO (Where Is My Order?) angst can build. And if a customer is letting the retailer know that there’s a problem, and not the other way round, then the retailer is immediately on the back foot. This puts more pressure on customer service teams to rectify issues — potentially handing out refunds — and carry out time-consuming admin.

If a retailer adopts a proactive approach, however, they can better control the situation and reduce costly WISMO. This strategy rests on managing customer expectations. If brands can identify issues before they happen, they can provide any reasoning for delays, offer apologies and show how they are going to best resolve the situation. This stops the customer contact before it even reaches the call centre; as customers get a proactive tracking notification and can self-serve their WISMO enquiry using a branded tracking page.

2. Join up the delivery experience with a CMS (Carrier Management System)

With so many moving parts, it can feel like an overburdening task to deliver a consistent and seamless post-purchase experience. As well as managing customer WISMO enquiries, there are the delivery hiccups to fix, multiple carrier agreements to manage and warehouse logistics to optimise. This all needs to consistently feed into the delivery experience. The best way to achieve this is to adopt agile post-purchase solutions and technologies that can simplify the management of delivery operations.

With a flexible carrier management system, for example, you can manage multiple carrier integrations from one central platform, streamlining your shipping management. This means retailers can gain a complete oversight of delivery operations, automating the complex allocation of parcels, helping them to maximise resources, spot trends, predict issues, and reduce overall operational costs and risk.

3. Up your upsell opportunities

If you have consistency in your WISMO comms and operations, it is then far easier to enhance your marketing and sales strategy. A branded, consistent post-delivery experience can build brand affinity and loyalty for when things go right, and also for when they go wrong.

Many retailers may use third party carriers to manage their delivery communication. Yet this limits their upsell opportunities. If a retailer has ownership of its communication, it can control every piece of its post-purchase copy and creative content at the click of a few buttons. This can be then used to upsell items and create a host of further promotional opportunities. The power is in their hands.

And it’s a touchpoint that has high value: delivery post-purchase communications have an open rate of around 80%. With control of branded communication, retailers can then personalise content for different audience groups who are most likely to engage with certain campaigns, whether that be with promos, product launches or recommendations. Links in emails can also help direct customers to relevant content on tracking pages and to your website, bolstering conversion rates. This all helps to drive brand awareness and extra revenue growth.

Bridging the gap

There’s a disconnect between how retailers and customers currently view the standard of the post-purchase experience. In a changing landscape, you can never be certain how external events—such as postal strikes and cost-of-living constraints—may impact customer loyalty. It signals the extra lengths brands need to go to, to meet evolving consumer needs in the increasingly competitive field of post-purchase delivery.

If brands can communicate proactively and effectively on WISMO cases, join up their operations with a CMS and then use this foundation to generate upsell opportunities with their post-purchase communication, they can start to bridge the retail-customer gap. And with that, put the customer front and centre of the delivery experience.

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