Retailers, we’re entering uncharted territory in ecommerce fulfillment. Consumers today have higher expectations for their customer experience than ever, and it’s up to you to meet them. How can you stay ahead of the curve and keep your customers happy?
From better customer service to flexible shipping and delivery options, here are the 10 biggest trends in ecommerce fulfillment to keep in mind this year.
1. Give your customers more opportunities to ask you questions
Your customers want to talk with you before, during, and after their purchases. So, make yourself available. There are many ways you can make yourself available – whether it’s a link to live chat on your website, inviting phone calls by displaying your number in prominent high-traffic places on your site, or being more active in responding to customer questions and feedback on social media. Fast and friendly customer service will help your customers feel comfortable with your business.
2. Dim weight changes come into effect
At the beginning of the year, FedEx and UPS changed their billing processes to account for dimensional (dim) weight for all domestic and international package shipments. Calculating dim weight adds another layer onto an already complicated shipping process – and if not considered ahead of time, measuring by dim weight can be more expensive.
3. Customers want to know exactly when their product will ship
When checking out online, customers like to see several shipping options – especially ones that are fast and free. Open communication with customers about when they can expect their product to arrive, a tracking number if you have one, and the ability to ship to nontraditional locations such as their local store or a delivery locker.
4. Omnichannel commerce
More retailers are striving to create a seamless customer experience between brick-and-mortar stores and their website. A few ideas include offering free delivery to your store, creative promotions connecting in-store and online, or even a mobile app with more information about the products you have in store.
5. Simplified returns process
Time to clean up your returns process. An unclear and complicated returns process leads to unhappy customers, and retailers are taking the hint and making returns as simple as possible. A few trends are including a return shipping label in the box with your products and offering free shipping on returns.
6. Clearer returns policies
Where are your return policies spelled out on your website? Are they covered with legal jargon or vague language? More retailers are digging these out and making it easier for customers to read and understand. Straightforward, friendly return policies will help your customers feel more comfortable about purchasing your products.
7. Ecommerce forecasting
Forecasting busy and slow times in ecommerce has been a growing trend for the last few years. As technology continues to improve, so will the ways to forecast your demand – and be able to more accurately plan staffing levels, inventory, and delivery schedule.
8. Subscription services
More and more companies are adopting a subscription delivery model, where customers receive several small packages over a period of time (usually a few months or a year). Subscription models are a great way to engage customers with your products and create a sense of loyalty to your brand over time.
9. Packaging personalization and customization
Do you include a note or receipt in your packages? Think about adding the customer’s name and a little message or coupon. Little things, like thanking your customers for being so awesome and inviting them to talk to you if they’re unhappy with their purchase, can lead to big things, like stellar product reviews and buzz on social media. Your customers matter to you – make sure they know that!
10. New fulfillment center and warehouse technology
Fulfillment centers equipped with new technology are seeing quicker and more efficient operations. New transportation management systems and supply chain software allows you to automatically track orders and inventory levels, easily add new SKUs, and keep data secure.
Warehouse management is constantly evolving. Keep an eye on the trends and think about how you can make the most of the advances in ecommerce fulfillment to make your customers happy.