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OPINION: Why delivery experiences are just as important as the in-store experience

The role of the delivery experience is as important as the face to face, instore experience for customers, according to David Grimes, founder of Sorted. Here he explains the power of brands who get this right. 

The death of high street brands is nothing new, nor is the astronomical boom of ecommerce. Once upon a time, brands had a tunnel-vision attitude towards plugging all their investment into the in-store experience, but this has quickly become out of date. Instead, more and more customers are now primarily online shoppers, with many not returning to the high-street despite its re-opening.

Although fewer consumers are stepping foot within physical stores, they still expect the same personal experience online. Therefore, converting the same principles of in-store experience to the online sphere is crucial when capturing customers. Arcadia is only one example of a high street retailer that failed to make the right customer experience investments fast enough to keep up with the online world, and customers clicked elsewhere. And, despite it being well known that brands need to innovate, they need to be making carefully calculated investments for their customers’ needs and to keep up with competitors.

With that in mind, how can retailers own their ecommerce journey from end-to-end to provide customers with an unbeatable purchasing journey?

Keep it tight within the brand

What sets the high street apart from the digital world is its ability for customers to get a physical feel for products, be immersed in the brand, try things on, and know exactly when their purchase will be in their hands (i.e., right away). Now, retailers need to relate these experiences to the whole ecommerce journey too.

One way to achieve this is through automated branded tracking. While branded tracking should now be hygiene, many retailers are still sending customer updates via third-party carrier tracking pages. What this does, is take customers away from a retailer’s app or site and away from the brand experience too. Considering that retailers wouldn’t have a third-party sales assistant deal with their customers in-store, why would it make sense to use a third party for online delivery experience?

Not only that, but we discovered that 75% of consumers would stop using a retailer if they frequently messed up communication updates regarding their delivery. Therefore, if delivery updates between the brand and third-party courier are uncoordinated, this can lead to frustration, damaging the overall brand experience that retailers are trying to instil across the entire ‘purchase to delivery’ journey.

This is about truly optimising the partnership between carriers, brands and tech partners. Brands can’t do it all, and carriers have the hard-earned experience and infrastructure to get your customer parcels from DC to doorstep. But they aren’t experts in your brand, or the specific, unique customer experience you’re trying to create. So having control of how you present your brand, both in-store and offline, wherever possible, is vital.

Communication, wherever you are

On the high street, even something as simple as welcoming customers when they walk in the door, or offering a friendly smile, can establish a trustworthy bond. And, one of the greatest aspects of shopping in-store is the ability for sales assistants to offer direct support – asking if customers need any assistance and answering customer queries immediately. So when it comes to ecommerce, the same kind of proactive communication needs to be mirrored.

In the online world, retailers can use automated updates and notifications to stay one step ahead of customers and keep them informed at each point in the journey. With no customer wanting to be left in the dark about their delivery, automated branded tracking is therefore a great way to ensure all customers know about their delivery journey – before they even need to ask.

In shops, customers can tap the shoulder of a helpful retail worker to ask their query and have it solved in a matter of minutes. This can be replicated online with tracking pages that allow customers to self-service their delivery updates. Since ‘Where Is My Order’ (WISMO) queries can make up to 80% of customer contacts, having this option can dramatically improve customer satisfaction by empowering consumers with the answers they need, straight away. Plus, it takes the pressure off customer service teams too by ultimately reducing the amount of traffic to a contact centre.

Retailers can also offer customers a similar personal touch with multi-channel servicing. Whether this be via email, SMS text, an app push notification, or live chat – customers want to have access to the information they want, through the channels that they choose.

Insights for a personal touch

Great in-store customer experience means getting to know your customers – what they like, what they don’t like, and ultimately offering them the best product or service that suits them. Fundamentally, customers want to feel special, seen and heard and that their shopping experience is tailored completely to them.

To translate this to the online world, brands can leverage tracking pages to continually adapt the post-purchase experience, strengthening processes and unlocking more analysis on customer behaviour by implementing more data-driven strategies to improve it. Retailers can ask: what upsell ads are resonating most after the buy button? Where in the delivery journey are most customers looking for an update? Which post-purchase comms are being read the most, or driving the most site visits?

With tracking pages (either on-site multi-parcel tracking pages and in app-tracking), brands can personalise content and ads for different segments and personas – whilst learning more and more about where and when your customer is consuming information. Not only does this increase customer retention and upsell opportunities, but more importantly, it offers each customer a unique experience.

The digital world is here, are you ready?

Customers now have the choice to shop online, offline, on the bus, on the sofa – quite literally anywhere, if you have the right tools. Seamlessly connecting with customers online, the same way your teams might do on the high street, is more important than ever. Get this right, and you’ll be unbeatable competition.

Written by David Grimes, founder of Sorted

Image credits:
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