Industry giants are bringing shipping times down to seemingly milliseconds while the rising tide of customer expectations has put immense pressure on other retailers to keep up. The bottom line is that anything less than customer service perfection may not be enough to meet the new standard. But efficiently distributing thousands of orders and keeping customers apprised every step of the way is no easy task, especially given how recent events have disrupted the global supply chain.
Embracing new technology provides retailers the best shot to level the playing field. Oracle Retail Order Management System Cloud Service (OMS) offers embedded cutting-edge communications technology to help retailers stay more connected to customers throughout the entire delivery process. Below are a few ways that proactive post-order communications can make the difference between a single sale and earning a customer’s loyalty for life.
Imagine a customer who recently ordered a timely gift in preparation for a friend’s socially-distanced housewarming party. With just a day or two remaining until the party, their present still hasn’t arrived – and they haven’t heard anything from the seller. This is an unpleasant scenario for the customer and retailer alike, and one that occurs all too often. It’s also one that could result in the loss of a customer forever.
The above is no more than a hypothetical but it’s clear the modern customer has an insatiable appetite for communication related to their purchases. According to Oracle Retail's 2020 consumer research, 73% of customers expect real-time updates as their order moves from the distribution center to their front door. Customers are no longer willing to wait weeks without seeing hide nor hair of their purchases and the onus is on retailers to step up to the plate.
Once an order is placed, OMS helps retailers coordinate and manage communications across multiple stores, distribution centers, and delivery providers through the use of timely reminders and alerts. From there, retailers can customize the number of updates they want to send out and which situations are worthy of an alert, keeping customers satisfied with their order status without overburdening inventory workers.
While many people want constant reminders of their order status, there are still some who would prefer only the most basic information to reach their inbox. In our Setting the Bar research, we surveyed customers about how much they want their retailer communications to be personalized and found it really takes all kinds: 73% of consumers said they want their messages to be at least somewhat personalized, while 14% said they want as little information shared with retailers as possible.
Painting with a broad brush is a surefire way to make a mistake. Consider again the customer who is awaiting their gift just days before their friend’s party. With OMS, a retailer could receive an alert through the system that this package won’t be there on time. They could then notify the customer of the unexpected delay and provide a refund (if requested) with time to spare. This level of proactive action would also afford the customer with time to procure another gift and avoid any embarrassment. This level of personalization is has become an expectation for customers in today’s shopping environment.
Part of the value of post-order comms technology is that it can be molded to fit each customer’s individual needs – without the undue labor of manual entry. Time and again, research has shown that customers are willing to forgive retailers for delays or mistakes as long as the retailer is transparent and their service experience is satisfactory. For that reason and others, it won’t be long before proactive, personalized post-order messaging is the new standard.
Once the right tools are in place, retailers can get even more creative with their post-order communications. When a shipping emergency comes up, like with our hypothetical customer, retailers will be well positioned to take advantage. Maybe next time, the seller doesn’t just reach out to let the customer know of a delay. They could express ship a similar item, provide a gift card to be used at a nearby store, or employ any number of other creative solutions.
In a competitive retail environment, customer experience is often a deciding factor in where people shop. Highly personalized and transparent interactions not only solve problems, they help turn a one-time customer into a lifelong devotee of a brand.
If delivering an optimal post-order experience strikes a chord, be sure to check out my last post, Execution Matters: Transparency of the Order.