How your eCommerce website can reduce supply chain friction
When it's easy to add items to your online shopping basket, you've already set an expectation on the remaining aspects of the customer experience (CX) that persists well beyond your eCommerce website. CX doesn't end at the checkout, but includes the safe and reliable shipping of products to your buyer and of course any customer service requests that may result further down the line.
Friction-less fulfilment is a given, with plenty of shipping options presented in the checkout, clear pricing and couriers that provide a reliable service. Shipping is a key part of the decision process that can present a barrier to customer buying decisions before they start your checkout process.
While there will always be challenges with supply chains and occasionally disruption that is beyond your control as an eCommerce retailer, your customers want your goods to be delivered more often than not, sooner rather than later.
Thankfully, there are several steps retailers can take with their websites to address a variety of common supply chain issues. Here are 5 ways your website can help reduce supply chain risks that also positively impact your customer's shopping experience.
Set Clear Expectations on Product Description Pages
Indicating a stock quantity on your product description page can help customers with their buying decisions. Letting them know how many units are in stock, when the next delivery is expected, or sometimes for larger products, the lead time on new orders all helps to set an expectation among your customers.
Most people can work with expectations; they have a degree of certainty. Making it obvious to them not only improves their shopping experience, but helps to avoid placing your supply chain under unnecessary pressure because of little room for delays.
Every eCommerce website should be offering some level of tracked delivery. It can be an optional or a premium choice depending on your courier, but the convenience speaks for itself. Knowing when an item is going to be delivered and where it might have been left reassures consumers you care about their goods getting to them safely and on time.
Your website should be linking through to your chosen courier's systems, where the order and delivery details are automatically passed across to them allowing them to send SMS or email updates to your recipients.
Links to tracking references should include the full web address. Customers shouldn't be expected to have to copy and paste tracking codes into a couriers website, especially when many of these emails will be opened on a mobile device.
We've seen couriers adapt to the climate challenges with electric vehicles and more localised delivery routes. But what about retailers offering sustainable delivery options for the climate conscious consumer?
Offering a slower, reduced carbon impact for customers could prove to be a popular choice along with thoughtful packaging options that might include compostable envelopes, recyclable cardboard boxes and biodegradable labels. A few extra days to pack and ship your goods can streamline your workflows and potentially alleviate bottlenecks on popular products or among your warehouse teams.
Automation is the name of the game for scaling up eCommerce businesses. Collecting customer data to support their buying experience, following up on their purchases and sending well targeted email campaigns is standard practice every online retailer should be doing.
It's inevitable that from time to time though goods will be out of stock, so having a mechanism to register an interest in those products, or buy items that are out of stock with clear notifications of the delivery status, helps to lock customers into your brand experience. For out of stock items, it's important to only charge a customer's card when goods are ready to despatch; another important reason to keep customers up to date with the progress of their order.
Customer Service on your eCommerce site
It should go without saying that customer services sits at the heart of eCommerce. That's not to say things are only made easy in the event of a problem. Buying from you should just be easy, full stop. A site's navigation is the friendly shop assistant guiding customers to products, the copy is the tone of voice people are welcomed into your store with, and your product pages are the creative merchandising that lead people to buy from you. All of this is customer service; it's not simply an email address to send complaints to.
Review sites are another essential component to scaling up your eCommerce website. But it's not just the 5 star reviews people leave you by clicking a single button; it's the comments that praise your brand and customer service when something was put right, and that includes the stages pre-delivery, fulfilment and post-delivery. With competition high and the costs of finding new customers growing, building loyalty through customer service will allow you to maximise the life time value from every sale.
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Andrew Armitage had a similar article on the same themes published on TBTech on 30 March 2023.
Andrew is the founder of multi-award winning A Digital and believes that technology should be an enabler, making a positive impact on the way people live and work.