Time to shed a slightly different light on customer satisfaction and look at it through the lens of logistics. Ask the question - ‘does logistics actually affect customer satisfaction?
As they say ‘happy wife happy life’. A satisfied customer is the key goal of those who run an online store - it’s why we try to improve all aspects of our business. One major concern is that 89% of customers profess they leave the competition after un petit irritation.
A forewarning storm on Amazon’s entry into Poland has been set to narrow the competition, creating an even bigger need to invest in various areas of e-business, scoping from reliable, fast-running service to swift delivery. Some sobering news is that there's space to outpace this global giant in some elements of logistics. So fear not and let the rivalry begin..
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey..
Just when you thought maths had nothing to do with it! It’s all about the conversion rate, i.e the customer’s shopping journey. From seeing an Ad, landing page to actually making a purchase.
Some visual aid to show how many departments are actually involved in the development process of a customer's journey and how it affects customer satisfaction. Yes, you guessed right, one of the departments trusted is the logistics!
The five elements, logistically speaking..
Real time information
Modern day customers have been named ‘digital natives’ and simply put, they require the below as an absolute ‘must’:
- Immediate reaction
Expectations, as we all know, are extremely high. Customers require knowledge of their orders whereabouts at ALL times.
Studies have found that 88% of consumers mention that having the capability to track shipments in real-time is pivotal. At the same time, as it happens, not all stores have acceptable systems in order to guarantee this instant communication.
I know right..
And so a door of opportunity presents itself. Naturally the biggest courier companies felt obligated to take responsibility (that being their domain and all). Some familiar names will include DHL, DPD services. Per example below:
From the standpoint of brand strategy, it's a plus to be able to communicate with the customer alongside having the automated notifications received from the courier (which are known to not always be dependable). At this point it’s important to form that obvious alliance, integrating our system with the carrier’s system, all in efforts to keep the customer informed on the status of the shipment and to meddle when we appreciate/should a problem arise.
So Fast so Flexible
It’s all well and good having all the gadgets, communication lines and instant notifications, but should a customer wait a little too long for their delivery, patience is at stake, most likely lost at this point..
As it stands, next business day delivery is the ‘norm’. Some companies also offer:
- Same-day delivery
- Modifiable delivery options
- Evening through to weekend
- Courier Service
- Pickup at a local parcel machine
- Choose Pickup point
So, in order for a smooth sailing journey, two integral cogs are a matter of fact:
- An arrangement/contract with a courier company
- A well oiled warehouse
The latter leans solely on the number of experienced employees most importantly on automation (WMS: an exceptional well-constructed warehouse management system).
With these resolutions/systems in place, it permits employees to respond to orders at that first entry moment into the store. Selecting orders by date of fulfilment, indicating which order picking path is the quickest and nimblest, stripping errors that may perpetuate the total process. Boom, now that's what I call service..
With consideration to ‘deliveries’, it’s important to assess the markets outside your home country. Contemplate delivering products to both the EU countries and beyond. You never know, someone in central America may want/need your product. Should there not be any operational sales in the exotic markets, don’t fret, for it may be that this changes sooner than you think. Aim for the skies, don't marginalise oneself and moreover, give the people what they want.
Don't buy it if you can't return it.
If not one of the major decisive factors mentioned by consumers when shopping online, it’s all about those seamless returns. Little known fact that: over 40% of all clothing purchases on the internet are refundable. Returns are essential in the fashion industry and needs to be one of those painless processes for the consumer whilst remaining profitable for the company.
It is crucial that the return process needs to be as thought out, with the same care, as outbound operations.
Return shipments need to be detected instantaneously on return to the warehouse and indexed into the system. Additionally, some products may require a visit to the laundry on account of their labels and upkeep etc. (wash-resistant labels are necessary). What might have been a ludicrous expense beforehand, doesn't seem so daft now..
How quickly the customer's money is refunded, is a determining factor on your reputation. If there are delays in the process, naturally, there will be a considerable drop in your favour. Ah how our patience in society precedes us..
To stop that from happening, creating a smooth and efficient service on returns all boils down to good system integration between sales, warehouse, and good old tax. The teams in charge of processing refunds require clear information on the status of the return.
Turns out, first impressions actually do last..
Personalised packaging focuses entirely on the consumer-brand, and even before the customer looks inside! Carelessly packaged goods can and will make customers unfulfilled with their brand experience, instantly creating negative view on the brand for its future reign.
Good packaging is just all around good sense. Not only will it look good, but it will protect the products from being damaged or exposed during transport. But in spite of that, it’s important to find the equilibrium between profitability and brand experience.
No room for human error..
Parcels that have vanished off the face of the earth, incomplete orders, oversights in orders, even selling a product that doesn't even exist can grant all the elements mentioned above total loss of relevance. These mistakes are scarily common in online stores and mostly resulting from chaos in the warehouse, scrambling around in messy operations. Always worth looking at yours/our logistics from time to time.
Leading an inspection on warehouse operations i.e:
- The order of goods on arrival - which area are the goods going too and what are the processes in place to carry it out.
- The correct documentation – product coding system, product files, notifications.
- The warehouse framework – storage shelves properly numbered, clean, basic proficiency.
Another important question to ask: are all your warehouse models up to date i.e: safety sensors, forklifts etc?
These are just some basic parts of what one would call an inspection. In order to uncover inconsistencies that deplete the productivity of your logistics operations, it’s advised that you undergo full professional scanning. This can drive up conversation on changes with a 3PL, someone can look after all the elements mentioned above.
The choice is yours..