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Flex, Bend and Modify on the Fly: Whatever it Takes for the Customer Experience

Blog Post
Radial’s Senior Vice President, Enterprise Commerce Solutions, Prashant Bhatia joined retailers and talked through their top customer experience priorities for 2021.
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In the new post-COVID world, customers are less likely to overlook delays and process issues. In fact, a whopping 66% of consumers say they’d consider switching to a competitor after just one or two bad experiences.     

Radial’s Senior Vice President, Enterprise Commerce Solutions, Prashant Bhatia joined retailers Manny Balani, President of Gotham Cigars and A1 Supplements, Bill Quinn, Senior Vice President of Digital Commerce for Hibbett Sports, and Andrew Blackman, President of Top Hatter in the latest live panel discussion with Digital Commerce 360, as they talked through their top customer experience priorities for 2021 and the technology they’re investing in to hopefully avoid last year’s issues.  

We’ll touch on a couple of key points below: 

Top Priority for 2021: Customer Experience 

Notoriously fickle, customer loyalty relies heavily on the customer experience. Without a great experience, your product may not be enough to have shoppers keep coming back. But the experience is not just one interaction with a brand such as completing a purchase online or making a return. It encompasses every interaction a shopper has with a brand. From navigating the website, visiting the store, speaking with customer service, receiving the product and even returning the product, every interaction needs to be well thought out.   

How can retailers ensure a smooth and enjoyable customer experience?  

By investing in the right technology, data, and systems.

Flexible Technology to Manage Complex Customer Fulfillment Options  

To meet growing customer demand and increased competitive pressure, order fulfillment options exploded last year. Consumers now have the flexibility to choose from options like ship-from-store, ship-to-store, curbside pick-up, and BOPIS, among others. As a result, fulfilling orders has become increasingly complex.   

One way retailers can master the complexity is by having a flexible and robust Order Management System (OMS). This allows their organizations to improve supply chain efficiencies and business responsiveness by easily orchestrating product fulfilment.  

Taking Order Fulfillment to the Next Level 

One thing everyone is trying to do is get the product to the customer quicker than they can now. But supply chains are still recovering from the pandemic. So, the big question is, what can retailers do to speed up the process knowing there are still limitations?  

A couple of options have emerged, chief among them is aggregating data to make better decisions. Using a combination of technology including OMS’s and predictive analytics, retailers can more accurately predict where the demand may be highest and can allocate inventory to those locations.  

While predictive analytics is not foolproof, having a flexible OMS allows retailers to see where inventory is not moving as quickly and allocate it to a location where it is moving faster. This helps stores avoid stock-outs and lost sales. 

Another option is increasing delivery methods. If a customer wants their product the same day but can’t make it into the store and the shipping costs are too high for both the customer and the retailer, one way to save the sale is by offering store associate delivery. Retailers can control costs and increase customer satisfaction while still competing with eCommerce giants like Amazon.  

Increasing Sales Through Convenience and Engagement 

During the pandemic, there weren’t many people spending on excess as the fear of an economic downturn and loss of job security prompted many to hold tight to their paychecks. Retailers had to get creative to get sales. One of those creative ideas was convenient payment options.  

The concept of “buy now, pay later” is not exactly new, but has stroke a chord among consumers. This convenient payment option allows consumers to lessen the financial burden by making smaller and more manageable installment payments while receiving the product immediately.  

Another concept some retailers are trying is gamification. Allowing customers the chance to receive “prizes” in the form of a percentage off, exclusive access to sales, and even products, all by engaging with the brand. For those trying to bolster online or mobile sales, these options provide fun ways for shoppers to keep coming back.  

Looking Forward: Factors to Consider for Scaling Operations 

With plenty of unknowns, it can be difficult to even fathom scaling operations, but the fact of the matter is, the number of customers wanting products delivered faster is not going to slow down.  

The only way to scale is by having the right inventory available in the right location. Whether an e-tailer or retailer, these considerations will need to take place:  

  • Labor costs such as transportation 
  • Channel availability such as website, in-store, mobile, etc.  
  • Continued excellence in fulfillment and operations whether in-store from the DC or from the supplier 
  • Ensuring a consistent experience all the way through 

At the end of the day, it’s all about continuing to get better, faster, and more efficient to provide the best customer experience possible. 

To learn more about how retailers are looking to keep loyal customers in a post-pandemic world, watch the discussion here