The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge acceleration in the pace of digital transformation and has massively contributed towards the staggering 46.1% year-on-year increase in internet retail sales value in the UK during 2020. Other external factors – such as the global supply chain crisis and Brexit related border issues – have culminated in a logistical vortex of challenges for retailers. In such a highly competitive market, and under such difficult circumstances, ensuring you are providing your customers with proactive and clear communications is vital – while in the process building a memorable experience to match your product.
Comprehensive failures among direct-to-consumer brands:
Through ordering from the UK’s 50 leading direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, parcelLab has revealed some stark shortcomings in their offerings to their customers. Offering the customer choice and providing clear and proactive communications should be a priority – especially during times of uncertainty – but our findings show that this is not currently the case. We found that just 20% of brands included in the study offered the consumer a choice of carrier, while only 38% offered a next-day delivery option. Additionally – and with click & collect turnover forecasted to soar in the UK to an estimated £10 billion by 2023 – our DTC report found that just 10% of retailers offered this service. It is paramount to offer the customer choice and ensure that delivery does not become a barrier to sales. Through providing the customer convenience through choice along with a frictionless experience you can expect to see fewer cases of cart abandonment, ultimately driving higher sales.
Building a standout post-sales experience presents a huge opportunity for businesses and delivering personalised touch points will grab the attention of the customer and ultimately encourage loyalty towards your brand. Delivering personalised communications will keep customers excited to hear from you, providing memorable experiences with timely and proactive updates, while also managing their expectations and reducing enquiries.
How brands can improve their customer experience:
Guiding your customers through the entire sales journey allows brands to leverage and maximise every customer touchpoint. The key is creating a cycle of engagement and re-engagement with your customer, targeting customers with carefully crafted content related to their order. This can be done, for example, by providing personalised recommendations that are related to their original purchase, as well as providing the customer with guides and other necessary information that relates to their order.
The notoriously painful returns procedure is also an area that we have identified as needing some drastic improvement among the UK’s leading DTC brands. The report found that it took an average of 14 days for the retailer to process the return, with only 30% of brands notifying their customer when they received the order back at their processing location. Furthermore, there was a widespread lack of choice available to the consumer when it came to methods of return, with 80% of brands included within the study offering just one method of return. This lack of flexibility only serves to further inconvenience the consumer resulting in an unnecessarily long and infuriating returns process. The customer journey does not end at checkout, far from it – retailers must strive to improve this aspect of the consumers’ experience.
Through such a challenging environment for online retailers, it has never been so important to keep the customer at the heart of everything you do as a business, seeking to never leave them uninformed and in the dark. Proactive, clear, and timely communication with the customer will help to leave a lasting positive image and will help to differentiate your business from the competition. It is clear: 2022 is the year of prioritising the customers’ online shopping experience.