This guest blog from Justine Cross, Content Marketing Manager at Brightpearl, dives deep into the importance of a complete end-to-end customer experience and how to achieve it - with real-life retail examples peppered throughout.
Everyone knows that intuitive site navigation, fast checkout, detailed product descriptions and positive customer reviews and testimonials are all vital ingredients for ecommerce success.
But the processes that exist after shoppers click “buy” are often not seen as a priority by retailers - or are forgotten about entirely.
This is at odds with the latest consumer industry insights from Brightpearl and Trustpilot, which has found that in the world of online retail, it’s the last impression that determines whether a shopper comes back to your store.
The graph below clearly shows that customer satisfaction declines as the lifecycle of the buying journey progresses. We call this: the slippery slope of customer happiness.
The same study also found that 77% of 1-3 star reviews written about ecommerce businesses are a result of typical operational failures, such as:
Slow, delayed or late delivery
Items not arriving
Items being listed as ‘out of stock’ after purchase
A lack of delivery updates
Expensive and unexpected shipping costs
Time-consuming returns and poor refund policies
Customers want a slick website experience but they also want to trust that their item will arrive when it should, not cost them the earth to do so - and that they’re able to return it easily if they need to.
But if one of these areas fail, then they all do, leaving you with nothing more than the equivalent of a deflated soufflé: a lot of hard work for a messy and disappointing outcome.
Three essential ingredients of customer experience
The following three essential ingredients of customer experience will help you to avoid mediocre service and a deflated soufflé situation, instead, powering CX worthy of a Michelin star - or five.
1. Up-to-the-minute data
Just like an outdated sat nav won’t get you safely from A to B, inaccurate and outdated data won’t put you in the best position when it comes to timely business decisions.
First, analyse the customer feedback that’s linked to your website on review sites like Trustpilot. This will show you where pain points exist within your customers’ buying journeys and thus, what you need to fix.
Next, use the data found within your retail operations platform to measure your business and its customer service against key retail KPIs like:
Perfect Order Rate - how often do incorrect items get shipped out to customers?
Processing Cost Per Order - how much does it cost your business to ship each order out?
Rate of Return - which products have a higher rate of return than others - and why?
2. Best-in-class services
Getting customers to stick around for the long haul is undoubtedly harder than it’s ever been. And costly too - an oft-quoted statistic states that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
Furthermore, big box retailers like Amazon have conditioned shoppers into expecting frequently high level levels of customer service. Fail at that and you become at risk of customers leaving harsh one-star feedback and avoiding your store in the future.
In fact, over three-quarters (79%) of shoppers told us that they are likely to leave a negative review following a bad experience.
Therefore, actively building brand loyalty through superior customer experience is the answer.
With a sprinkle and a dash of best-in-class services throughout the customer journey like buy online pickup in store, same-next day delivery and hassle-free returns, you’ll gain the power to convert and retain customers while successfully standing out from the competition.
3. Retail automation
But the ability to offer the best-in-class services mentioned above, relies on your ability to save time, reduce cost and reinvest resources back into other areas of your business.
Key to this is using automated back office systems like Brightpearl, which add speed and efficiency into the retail operation and enable world-class customer service at every touchpoint.
With technology like this in place, you’ll gain the power to:
Keep inventory levels updated throughout your website and other channels both on- and offline
Instantly route orders to specific warehouses
Automate shipping label creation and tracking reference information
Invoice orders in real time based on a set of preconfigured rules.
Here are the fundamentals you’ll need to keep in mind when automating your retail business:
Map out your current workflows using a tool like Lucidchart. This will help you to determine exactly how orders, returns, inventory and customer data should be managed and whether there are any special scenarios or easily corrected bottlenecks to consider.
Determine your criteria and actions for each channel. This step will help you to identify how to build automation rules. Retail orders will typically be straightforward, while other channels, like wholesale, can be more complex. It’s important to understand what criteria you have for each channel and what actions should be prompted.
Set up your automation rules. With your actions and criteria defined, you’re now ready to use a tool like Brightpearl to automate your business. It’s easy to setup automation rules; you don’t need a developer and you can choose from dropdown menus to help you decide what to automate if you’re unsure.
Three retail brands who have perfected the CX secret sauce recipe
The following three brands have all used powerful retail technology to perfect the complete end-to-end customer experience. Here’s how they’ve done it and the benefits they’ve seen.
Excellent five-star rating
Mad4Tools.com specialises in delivering power tools and workwear, as well as lighting and electrical equipment to DIY enthusiasts and tradespeople all over the world.
The brand has successfully built a passionate and vocal community around their products by investing in excellent experiences. Their Trustpilot review profile is full of comments like:
“Fast and efficient service”
“Great quality, great price”
“Delivered faster than expected”
You get the idea.
As Paul Swain, Director of Mad4Tools.com, explains here, the business prides itself on an excellent end-to-end journey. “If a customer has a positive experience with our brand, they’re more likely to buy from us again, to tell their friends and leave positive feedback on consumer review sites, which gives other shoppers more confidence to buy.”
Clearly it’s working.
Mad4Tools.com views its sector as extremely price competitive so the delivery of excellent buying experiences has become a key differentiator for them. Paul explains: “We win business because of our positive feedback and high ratings and we retain business because of the experience we provide - from meeting fulfillment expectations to orders being delivered as expected.”
Mad4Tools.com uses technology to ensure its retail operations are slick, automated and able to deliver more competitive offerings while maintaining the excellent standards of service that are in line with its five-star mantra. Paul says: “As the entire order process is automated, from inventory updates, to automatically generated shipping labels and tracking references, to fulfillment - we’ve eliminated the opportunity for human error and improved the overall experience for our customers.”
Excellent five-star rating
Wineware specialises in glassware, wine racks, corkscrews, wine cabinets, decanting products and numerous other wine accessories and has been trading online since 2000.
Now one of the leading wine accessory suppliers in the UK, Wineware sells to thousands of individual customers and hundreds of hotel, restaurant and bar clients, as well as wine and whisky tasting clubs.
No matter who it’s selling to, Wineware offers a premium service.
Lynsey Wellman, Company Director at Wineware, explains: “People expect a very high standard these days. We want to ensure we offer the best experience and the best journey to the highest standard – to make every customer happy.”
As with all other retail brands, it’s essential that Wineware maintains a smooth order fulfillment process to ensure the business meets customer expectations. There’s a lot of pressure on the company to turn around orders in mere hours as company service commitments allow customers to place orders by 3pm to go out the same working day.
Thanks to intelligent retail technology, Wineware has gained greater insight into its sales processes and order tracking, alongside the ability to seamlessly manage both its retail and wholesale divisions, accurately forecast sales and get orders out of the door faster - helping the company to meet late cut off orders successfully.
And, because of this, Wineware has an excellent five-star rating on Trustpilot with customers referencing things like: "fast delivery", "really great service”, "reliable", “efficient", “great experience" and “good communication".
Excellent five-star rating
Selling to consumers and businesses, from public sector to FTSE 100 companies, Energybulbs.co.uk has put superior end-to-end experiences at the very core of its strategy to help the brand differentiate itself from a fairly saturated and price competitive market.
“Technology allows us to process orders twice as fast as before, giving us the confidence to introduce multiple delivery options, including late next-day delivery services,” explains Andy Lockley, Head of Ecommerce at Energybulbs.co.uk.
The tech-led improvements to the customer experience have translated into a huge increase in positive reviews. “We’re now flooded with 5* reviews on Trustpilot, most of which quote ‘fantastic, ‘great’ or ‘excellent’ customer service,” says Andy. “Now, we don’t just meet our customer delivery expectations, we’re exceeding them, with an experience that both surprises and delights our shoppers. It has become a key competitive differentiator for our brand.”
Energybulbs.co.uk has truly revolutionised its overall customer journey. Andy explains: “We wanted to take the experience we offer to the next level with new delivery options and service that would offer a real wow factor for shoppers while helping to drive customer loyalty. To do that, we needed a reliable, user-friendly system that would streamline our order and fulfillment process.”
The brand’s approach recognises that modern consumer expectations stretch beyond the website, to factors such as fulfillment, delivery, returns and post-purchase customer service. They understand that it's not enough to efficiently fulfill orders and expect to generate glowing endorsements. Instead, you need to support lightning-quick turnaround times which are more likely to delight customers with the speed at which they receive their items.
By taking their end-to-end customer experience to the next level, these brands are able to offer competitive options and convenience, which attract and drive conversion, build loyalty and encourage the five-star ratings and reviews which are essential to the success of any business.
Brightpearl is a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers. Our mission is clear: automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business.
Brightpearl’s complete back office solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehouse management and logistics. In addition, the solution has high-performing connectors to the major ecommerce platforms, including Magento, BigCommerce and Shopify. Over 1,200 businesses in 26 countries use our platform and we manage over 10m transactions and $3bn of business a year.
And for more insights about consumer reviews, take a look at the report we co-wrote with Trustpilot here.