Meeting Consumer Expectations of E-Commerce: Three Key Questions to Answer
Online shoppers’ expectations are now sky high. So how can retailers in Europe deliver an exceptional customer experience that is both fast and cost-effective?
In today’s fiercely competitive e-commerce landscape, consumer experience has become much more than just a ‘nice to have’; failing to focus on this aspect of the service creates an existential threat for e-commerce retailers. So why exactly is the e-commerce consumer experience quite so important?
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One of the reasons is because the biggest players in online retail have had years – decades, in some cases – to set a high bar for customer experience, and it’s this level that consumers expect as the “new norm”.
Companies that wish to up their e-commerce game need to have a closer look at three elements of consumer experience to compete with established e-commerce giants in Europe.
Can you offer next day delivery?
Perhaps the biggest element of customer experience is in the speed of delivery. It can be a costly failing – research has found that 65% of online baskets are abandoned if the potential customer finds the delivery timescale too slow or too expensive.
The e-commerce giants have set the standard when it comes to delivery speed, and the main reason for that is simply the scale of their networks. The largest and best-known e-commerce business has 230 fulfillment centers spread across Europe, which is why it can promise fast deliveries. As a result, consumers have come to expect as a given that if they order an item one day, they can generally have it delivered the next.
However, for other businesses that serve customers in more than one European country, next day delivery is almost impossible if they only operate from a single distribution center.
Can you provide end-to-end visibility?
End-to-end supply chain visibility is another benefit of technology that is driving an enhanced customer experience for many retailers.
If a business can have visibility of where a delivery is at any time, it can provide the consumer with tracking details, monitor how quickly deliveries take place, and intervene pro-actively if there are any unforeseen issues with the process.
Can you cope quickly and efficiently with returns?
Inevitably, with the e-commerce boom comes a boom in returns.
Our research has found that 26% of all retailers – and 37% of fashion retailers – say that the number of returns they receive has risen over the last two years. In the UK alone, the cost of returns has been estimated at a massive 7.75 billion Euros annually, with 2.66 billion Euros of that resulting from the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend.
Fast, efficient handling of returns is therefore essential, not just for retailers but for their customers who expect an easy and fast returns process. Upon receipt, those returned items need to be screened – something that requires inspection and grading capabilities – and, if possible put back into stock in the warehouse.
Flexibility and scalability are key
Even before the pandemic, the steady upward trajectory of e-commerce had been putting a strain on companies’ existing resources and forcing them to consider significant new investments in the face of an uncertain future. At the same time, demand on a week-to-week basis can be volatile, stretching scarce human resources to breaking point and impacting the consumer experience. E-commerce fulfillment must be able to both flex with short-term fluctuations and scale with sustained growth. Few supply chains can meet both those requirements.
At the end of the day, the target must be delivering a datadriven, impactful consumer experience that delights current – and in turn, future – customers so that they continue to support your business through their purchases.