Businesses all over the world are trying to improve customer engagement metrics through the promise of an amazing customer experience. According to Garter, more than 50% of global organizations will invest in customer experience innovations by 2018. This will help them improve customer retention rates, increase customer satisfaction, and offer cross-selling and up-selling opportunities.
The relationship between customer experience and fulfillment
Customer experience depends on the cumulative interactions between a business and a customer. Order fulfillment is the most crucial of these interactions, as it completes the sales cycle. It is at this stage that customers receive what they bought and, thereby, fulfill one of the most important aspects of the long-term buyer-seller relationship.
Fulfillment is an essential component of the customer experience and can either make it or break it. A customer builds a long-term image of a business based on the fulfillment experience. Investment in improving this process is essential for upgrading the customer experience, as:
• Customers buy online to save time
The biggest catalyst of global e-commerce growth is lack of time. Modern consumers are overwhelmed with professional and personal commitments. In a fast-paced world, a consumer wants a simplified shopping experience and prompt service or product delivery. Online shopping is preferred only because a customer wants to save time. According to independent research, 51% of Americans believe that online shopping is the best way to shop because of convenience and time savings.
Improving the turnaround time of the fulfillment cycle vastly improves customer experience. As customers seek more ways to save time on shopping, prompt service delivery because of an investment in an improved fulfillment process meets that need. Such an experience builds a strong, positive brand image in the minds of consumers. When customers receive what they need, as promised, they develop confidence in the business or brand that delivered.
• Customers buy online to get on-demand support
In the digital era, a customer expects on-demand and omni-channel support regarding their purchases. By integrating smart tools and artificial intelligence in the current fulfillment process, a business can empower a customer to get real-time support, enhancing their experience.
Customers also seek seamless Omni-channel support. This has led to an increase in companies that invest in building omni-channel customer support platforms, from 20% in 2010 to 80% in 2018.
As customers expect an e-commerce business to offer real-time support, having a fulfillment cycle that integrates Omni-channel support positively impacts the customer experience.
• Timely fulfillment ensures high-quality products/service delivery
A survey revealed that 34% of Americans found long deliver estimates and difficult return policies painful and a major turn-off, impacting their online purchase decisions. Convenience and time savings are their biggest motivators, so by promising prompt fulfillment, a business can easily align to customer expectations, enhancing their overall experience.
As modern customers expect faster order fulfillment, investing in an improved process will not only increase the efficiency of an e-commerce business but also improve customer satisfaction. And with faster service and delivery, a business can ensure that its product arrives in its best form.
Investing in the Order Fulfillment Process for the Best Customer Experience
Order fulfillment is the last step of the sales cycle, and it has the potential to impact the entire customer experience, from discovery to purchase. So it is essential to invest in strategic technologies that improve the process. As order fulfillment is so crucial to the purchase journey, improving the process will impact future purchase decisions and build customer loyalty.
Improving the fulfillment process
There are a number of ways that a business can improve its fulfillment process. This will not only streamline e-commerce operations but also improve the customer experience. Some of these tactics include:
• Simplifying the purchase process
The complexity of the purchase process is a determining factor in purchase decisions and impacts the order fulfillment cycle. If a customer spends an excessive amount of time purchasing because of the complexity of the website, order fulfillment updates will certainly be slower.
To improve this process, an e-commerce business must invest in tools and technologies that assist consumers in making their purchases. A customer must also be provided with all of the information they need, such as tentative shipping and delivery dates; shipping costs, if any; and the return policy, thereby improving their experience.
• Streamlining packaging, handling, and delivery
Fulfilling an online order per the customer’s expectations is quite a challenge these days. Due to high customer expectations, a business should work to streamline their packaging, handling, and delivery operations to provide the best possible customer experience.
Instead of outsourcing operations, a business must build innovative technologies and utilize existing ones to create in-house packaging and delivery capabilities, so that they control all aspects of order fulfillment. Investing in a centralized mechanism can also be a great tactic for improving operations.
• Investing in attractive packaging and motivating customers to share their experiences
In the age of social media sharing, a business should invest in making the customer experience highly-shareable. According to research, 61% of consumers say that they purchased, or thought of purchasing, a product after seeing an image on social media. By investing in attractive product packaging, a business can influence customers to make a purchase and then share it. This not only creates organic brand visibility but also attracts new buyers.
Improvement in the order fulfillment cycle is a great way to enhance the customer experience and build long-term credibility in a competitive business environment. Not only will such an investment attract new customers to your business, but it will also help retain the existing ones at a time when customer loyalty is at an all-time low. As one of the most crucial elements of an e-commerce business, a great fulfillment promise can build relationships by providing the best customer experience every time.