When you are happy with your brand’s digital customer experience, don’t let your fulfillment operations disappoint
Is there anything worse, when you are anticipating a delivery, than it finally arriving – only to be late, poorly packaged, and maybe even damaged? This kind of customer experience is all the worse if you initially had a great digital experience, leading to high expectations about the arrival of your item.
So, why does this happen? Oftentimes brands will pour resources – time, effort, and money – into their front-end eCommerce website and marketing. This dedication to the outward impression of the brand is commendable and important. Ultimately, eCommerce involves a great deal of time and effort spent on experience, image, and customer relationships. The feeling the customer has when they engage with a brand is the emotive connection that converts clicks to sales. After all that effort to make the sale, don’t let the post-click experience fall short.
Post-click activities are the execution of the pre-click promise – are your customers going to be impressed or disappointed with what happens next?
What are some of the common struggles brands encounter when it comes to the post-click customer experience?
Consistent customer experience across channels is key to loyalty – this includes, online, in-store, value-added services, delivery, returns, and more. Without consistency, your customers won’t know what to expect from your brand, leaving the brand message unheard and the brand story unfulfilled in customers’ eyes. These are vital components to creating the ideal customer experience, driving loyalty, and advocacy long-term. So, what can go wrong?
If this is an area you are struggling with, it is time to upskill the post-click experience to be equal, if not better than the pre-click experience.
Focus on the following points to match your A-class front-end experience:
- Speed of delivery – Delivery is your customers’ most anticipated brand engagement. It’s important for delivery to run smoothly, as promised – from the initial email confirming their order has been received, to shipping confirmation, tracking, and receipt. It’s crucial that brands work with trustworthy partners, including 3PLs, carriers, payment processors, and more, that have a proven track record of supporting large-scale operations.
- The unboxing experience – On Instagram alone there are over 3.4 million posts under #unboxing. In this modern world, instantaneous feedback is just one post away, and unboxing is a big online content generator for influencers. Social media aside, your customers should have a great experience when they receive their products. This means a focus on fulfillment operations, ensuring that a certain standard is followed from beginning to end. Working with a provider who demonstrates experience representing brands in this way can be a valuable solution to ensure consistency.
- Packaging – This is a huge part of your brand representation. By packaging orders with heavily branded materials, the customer knows exactly what they have received as soon as it arrives, and you can include unique brand messaging. This is also a great way to incorporate sustainability whilst still promoting your brand, by utilizing recycled and recyclable materials.
- Personalization – 42% of consumers believe that they receive a more personalized experience online than in-store. Personalization in terms of packaging and value-added services (engraving, monogramming, relevant product samples, etc.), is a great way to create that link between the consumer and the brand.
What can brands do to ensure operations are aligned holistically?
Imperative to brands’ success in elevating the ideal customer experience and keeping it consistent is planning. By taking the time to collaborate across teams and functions, brands ensure they streamline their customer journey, tying any loose ends in the customer experience and ensuring, above all, the brand promise is being delivered to customers.
The vision must be aligned with the executional planning capabilities of the operation. There must be a discussion on inventory positioning, expectation, service level, and, most importantly, ensuring that the promise to the consumer is upheld through all phases of the shopping experience.
Ensuring alignment on the consumer promise is ultimately the key to success here. The marketing and operations teams must work closely together to implement the plan effectively. These behind-the-scenes dialogues are important. Open communication and transparency between all teams can make or break the translation to reality. From branding and marketing teams, through to business managers, and on to the supply chain teams, everyone has a part to play in creating success from the beginning to end of the process.
Consumers have a view. Brands have a view. Operations have a reality.
This rings true for globally recognized brands as well as small businesses and start-ups taking care of operations in-house. If your digital ordering experience is slick and well-designed, then that is what the consumer will expect from the physical delivery experience too. Every aspect of inventory planning, order fulfillment, and reverse logistics needs to follow the same formula.
When it comes to leveling up the post-click experience, what should brands be looking for in a 3PL?
The key things that brands should be looking for, to create the ideal customer experience are:
- High-quality experience
- Value-added services (such as engraving, monogramming, and gift messages)
- Focus on brands and unboxing experience
- High level of quality technology enablement – Distributed Order Management (DOM) capability
- Strong carrier relationships to facilitate seamless, speedy delivery
- Agility and scalability to meet growing customer demand and peak order volumes
- Partnership – growing with brands, making the brand story their own
A strong supply chain strategy is needed for brands to uphold the standard of service created by the customer’s digital experience so far. By working with a high-end fulfillment operations provider, this is exactly what you get. Working with a 3PL who understands branding will ensure your message is communicated across the chain, reaching your customers all the way to the point of receiving their item, and the subsequent unboxing experience.
A key takeaway for brands is to view the marketing and operational plans as one. By ensuring a strong alignment between the two, you have a frictionless execution all the way from demand generation through to conversion, to execution. By seeing every step as equally important, brands will be keeping their promise to the consumer, protecting their own image, and retaining that all-important customer loyalty.
Download our recent eBook here to find out more about ideal customer experience strategies, check it out today.