As an online retailer, you naturally strive for excellent consumer service throughout your customer’s buying experience. However, many online retailers forget the importance of what happens after your customer clicks buy. They are intrinsically linked with your brand, even though they have no association outside of fulfilling orders. How important are the experiences later in the buying process (such as shipping, tracking, safe delivery) and why is it important to choose these partners wisely?
We discuss the three main ‘Rs’ that can be directly affected by choosing the wrong third-party providers.
When a purchase is made by a new customer, your shop is being given the benefit of the doubt in terms of reliability. It is usually expected that your shop will provide adequate shipping details and that delivery times will be swift, even though you might not be in control of these functions.
As simple as it sounds, doing your research in the early stages to ensure your fulfilment house has a good reputation, and that the couriers they use have a good reputation, is vital. And of course, if they have an Order Management System (OMS) in place, this is a tell-tale way to know that the fulfilment house will have immediate access to couriers, rather than having a few ‘favourites’ they use. An OMS also means that a fulfilment house can let you choose preferable couriers and their system will automatically assign your orders to those couriers.
Slips in reliability are usually the biggest hurdle that prevent customers repurchasing. Once problems arise more frequently, your couriers and fulfilment houses are at direct risk of harming your reputation.
Consumers hold the store accountable for the service they receive, start to finish. You only have to look at reviews of popular stores to realise that it is usually issues with delivery, customer service, faulty goods or returns. The problem being that these are functions online retailers often outsource.
If patterns start to arise from unhappy customers, these need to be acted on quickly. Reviews online are often the first port of call for many customers before trying a new shop they have not heard of. How many times have you been discouraged to buy from somewhere because of a one-star review? Do not let that be your business. Make sure you check independent reviews of the partners you work with regularly, and clearly communicate concerns with them before it starts to seep into your business.
Ultimately, if no improvements are made, a bad reputation can hinder building new customer relationships. Repeat custom is essential in E-commerce, and it is vital that you have that audience that will buy time and time again. All the hard work put into your E-commerce channels is suddenly wasted when the customer’s delivery experience does not match their experience on your site. Be proactive in choosing partners that are as dedicated to customer service as you, and make sure you regularly review these partnerships. In a time where competition is fierce, you cannot afford to lose custom because of your provider’s mistakes.
Do not let choosing third-party partners be an afterthought, it is just as important as your online presence. Make sure your relationship is solid and keep communications simplified through software built your online shop and maintain those distribution and courier relationships, such as Access MintSoft. They are an extension of your brand – make sure you choose wisely.
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Ben Kaye is a warehousing and online fulfilment expert at The Access Group. They provide Access MintSoft, a cloud-based order management, marketplace and courier management tool designed to make online retail simple. Find out more at www.mintsoft.co.uk