Is there a worse experience for a customer than ordering an item online only for it to arrive late, packaged poorly, or even damaged? Especially if, up until the point of delivery, the initial digital experience in ordering the product was highly satisfying, leading to high expectations about the arrival of the item.
But the question is, why does this happen? A major cause is that very often brands will dedicate time, effort, and money, to their front-end eCommerce website and marketing. But while dedication to the outward impression of the brand is extremely important – the feeling a customer has when they engage with a brand is the emotive connection that converts clicks to sales – it is vital that the post-click experience doesn’t fall short. Ultimately, a post-click experience is the execution of the pre-click promise. Brands must ask themselves, are customers going to be satisfied or feeling dejected by their post-click experience?
Common struggles brands encounter when delivering a 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.
How to ensure a post-click experience matches the pre-click 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 third-party logistics companies (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 fulfilment 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 utilising recycled and recyclable materials.
- Personalisation – 42% of consumers believe that they receive a more personalised experience online than in-store. Personalisation 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.
How can brands ensure operations are holistically aligned?
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 and brands have a view, but operations adhere to a stark reality
This rings true for globally recognised 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 fulfilment, and reverse logistics needs to follow the same formula.
How can 3PL level up the post-click experience
- 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
It is vital that brands implement a strong supply chain strategy, to uphold the perceived standard of service that a customer’s digital experience gives them. But this can be achieved by working with a high-end fulfilment operations provider. And by working with a 3PL that understands the importance of messaging thoroughly, brands can rest assured that their messages are communicated across the supply chain – meaning a customer’s experience is front of mind all throughout the product’s journey from point of receiving the order to the unboxing experience.
To thrive, it’s important that brands view operational and marketing plans as one. If the two are strongly aligned, the process from demand generation to execution is frictionless. By providing a seamless ordering process and maintaining an excellent customer experience, brands will honour promises to customers, and in turn enhance their reputations further and retain customer loyalty.