Competition in the Australian retail market is heating up, with Amazon set to hit our shores later this year. And while slashing prices or offering year-round sales might seem like the right move to keep your competitive edge, we all know it isn’t sustainable for the long haul.
This is because consumers are looking for much more than the cheapest price or the best deal. Here are five ways you can stand out from the crowd and create a memorable shopping experience with your fulfilment operations.
1. Offer a variety of shipping options
Consumers are suckers for stress and like leaving things to the very last minute. Maybe it’s finding an outfit for a wedding on the weekend or a Mother’s Day gift you needed yesterday—there is nothing worse than finding exactly what you need online and realising it won’t get to you in time.
Offer a range of shipping options such as click-and-collect, delivery that day if ordered before a certain time, or even that night for people stuck in the office. Be clear about the cost so shoppers don’t waste time trying to figure out how much an express service will set them back and highlight when free-shipping is available. If you can be there for your customers in their moment of need, they won’t forget it.
2. Make the receiving experience exciting
It could be as simple as wrapping the goods in appealing packaging or including a small gift or sample of another product you think they might like. If you are a relatively new brand starting out, take the time to write handwritten notes thanking your customer for their support.
This adds a personal touch that will make them feel part of your journey. Discount codes and small incentives for loyal customers are a nice surprise and will encourage them to make their next purchase quickly.
3. Strong guarantees
A great way to keep customers coming back for more is through the guarantees you provide them. Knowing they can safely return an item if it isn’t quite what they are looking for takes the pressure out of purchasing and will most likely result in them buying more.
Generous returns periods also go a long way, giving people space and time to make a decision. Most importantly, if you say you are going to do something—do it. Consumers are looking for reliable brands that don’t renege on promises.
4. Effective order tracking
The dark ages of telling your customers their package will be delivered somewhere between Monday and Friday from 9am to 5.30pm are gone. Technology means we are hyper-connected in all aspects of our lives and consumers expect no less when it comes to handling their goods.
Provide a clear tracking system they can access easily to check on the status of their purchase and provide updates when the order has been received or dispatched. If you can go that extra step and let them know when their delivery is close so they can duck home to receive it you will have a fan for life.
5. Be proactive if something goes wrong
At the end of the day, we are all human and mistakes are bound to happen. Don’t be afraid to admit when something goes wrong and apologise for the error. The most important thing is to be responsive with your customer service so people don’t feel like their worries are falling on deaf ears. You can also make amends by offering free shipping or upgrading their order to overnight express. Small gestures go a long way.
Don’t treat your customer like a transaction and shut the door when the deal is done. Keep in touch throughout the fulfilment journey and handle their order with care and importance. If you are stuck for ideas simply put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about the things you appreciate when you are on the other side of the counter.
Jason Titman is the director and COO at Neto.
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