This blog was contributed by Tom Tzakis, CEO, PackageBee. PackageBee is an integration platform that helps online merchants and multi-channel retailers connect their sales channels with ERPs and warehouses to automate their product order fulfillment.
With the explosive growth of ecommerce over the last several years, it has become clear how critical it is for modern merchants to have a compelling online presence to reach the widest audience. What’s less talked about is how quickly that online presence and the ecommerce experience has become the most important factor by which consumers judge brands.
Just think about all of the niceties that brands are able to deploy in their physical stores to craft a positive customer experience and set the conditions to turn customers in to repeat customers:
- Impressive stores and storefronts
- Cheerful greeters when you walk in the door
- Friendly staff
- Brightly lit showrooms
- Enjoyable music and aromas
Most online merchants think first of front-end enhancements, such as a fancier website, to boost their credibility with shoppers. However, if you want to turn customers into repeat customers online, you ought to spend more time focusing on the back-end of your business and how well you treat your customers post-sale. Surveys have shown that the post-sale experience are the most memorable for shoppers.
What makes a good post-sale experience online?
The most important factors are widely considered to be:
- Order Accuracy. Making sure customers receive exactly what they expect.
- Order Processing Speed. Getting the order to the warehouse as quickly as possible shortens delivery times and increases customer satisfaction. It also reduces the amount of cancelled orders.
- Inventory Accuracy. It’s critical to accurately display the Available To Sell quantities. Merchants lose out on sales if they underreport stock, and on the flip side customers hate purchasing an item only to be told later that it is actually out of stock.
- Ability to Track Orders. This is important for both merchants and customers. Customers love receiving an acknowledgement that their order is on the way. Keep that post-purchase happiness going by updating them about where their order is in the process. Tracking the order is also very useful for merchants, as it allows customer service teams to quickly find orders and relay information to inquiring shoppers, who typically want fast and detailed information.
How Can Merchants Improve Their Post-Sale Performance?
One way merchants can improve their back-end performance is to use automation tools to streamline the order fulfillment process. A common and effective tool that is used by merchants is an automated fulfillment integration, such as those provided by PackageBee. Automated fulfillment integrations connect sales channels to warehouse management systems, and automate the post-sale order workflow. Automated fulfillment integrations help merchants in several ways.
- Increase Processing Speed. Automated fulfillment integrations are the quickest way to get orders from your sales channel to your warehouse. Every minute saved is an improvement for your back-end operations. The faster orders get to the warehouse, the more time your warehouse has get the products picked, packed, and shipped.
- Avoid Manual Errors. As described earlier, order accuracy is critical to customer satisfaction. Manual order processing has significantly more chances for human error than when automations are implemented.
- Acknowledgements. Automated fulfillment integrations have the ability to send notifications from the warehouse back to the sales channel that the order has progressed through the fulfillment lifecycle. This gives merchants more opportunities to update their shoppers.
Many warehouse management systems like ShipStation offer a wide variety of automated fulfillment integrations. Integration providers like PackageBee, extend those integrations further, and offer even more customization and automation options for online merchants looking to scale.
The Time to Act is Before the Sales Rush
With consumer confidence in the U.S. nearing all-time highs, the 2018 holiday shopping season is expected to more robust than ever, with a whopping 15.5% increase in holiday sales versus last year.
It’s more important than ever to take the steps you can to streamline your back-end operations before the expected sales rush.