Ecommerce competition is fierce and retailers need to take advantage of every opportunity to build loyalty for their brand. Too often, retailers fail to focus on the customer’s post-click experience. To discuss why it pays for merchants to create a satisfying customer experience after they hit the Buy button, Internet Retailer spoke with Brian Weinstein, vice president of business development at Port Logistics Group, an omnichannel logistics services company.
IR: What are the most complex distribution challenges that retailers face?
BW: It’s incredibly difficult to keep up with Amazon for direct-to-consumer fulfillment. Amazon is relentless in its push to raise the bar on delivery times, reliability and communications with the customer. Brand perception is critical and in order to build consumer trust—which leads to loyalty—retailers must make the post-click experience completely seamless. This means over-communicating on shoppers’ order status and delivery times, as well as making returns easy and informing customers that their return was received.
Retailers have to ensure that orders ship and arrive on time and, in a manner befitting the brand, meet consumers’ brand expectations in terms of packaging and presentation. Merchants can’t afford to fail to connect with customers and delight them with every order.
IR: How does the post-click experience affect brand loyalty?
BW: A sale is a one-time event but ecommerce fulfillment isn’t; it’s about building lasting loyalty. If a retailer fails to deliver an order on time, doesn’t provide the right presentation or doesn’t handle customer service issues well, shoppers will find a different merchant that has the product they like. Consumers have plenty of options and retailers only have one opportunity to exceed expectations.
IR: What are some fulfillment and delivery trends impacting the post-click experience?
BW: Retailers can offer shortened delivery times and provide more options when it comes to delivery methods and delivery windows. For larger retailers, regionalizing operations to place products within one to two days transit from the consumer is one way to keep up with the competition. That approach shortens the amount of time it takes an order to arrive to the consumer. For a small online retailer—where a multi-distribution center (DC) footprint is too costly—using multiple small-parcel carriers to balance cost with delivery expectations can enhance the customer experience by providing viable options for outbound orders and returns.
IR: How can technology enhance the fulfillment experience?
BW: Without technology, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and because of technology we’ll be somewhere different tomorrow. That’s the beauty and fun of ecommerce sales and fulfillment as it evolves at unprecedented speeds. There is a lot of innovation in returns programs and from reverse-logistics niche providers. International shipping is leveling the playing field as smaller retailers can now offer it thanks to shipping software with fully integrated cost calculators. And third-party shopping cart platforms are extending their capabilities including expanding into point-of-sale solutions.
IR: How can a retailer quickly improve the post-click experience it provides customers?
BW: A retailer should work with a third-party logistics provider that takes a consultative approach and proactively provides guidance, industry expertise and best practices. Port Logistics Group not only supports retailers with brand enhancement, but also assists them in understanding market fulfillment trends, such as providing analysis of their costs to position inventory in multiple distribution centers versus one. We are regularly improving our processes for faster fulfillment times and more seamless returns by offering multiple regional locations to support their changing customer geographies.
Brian Weinstein is vice president of business development at Port Logistics Group, an omnichannel logistics services company.Favorite