Omnichannel is no longer a free choice, but an obligation for every company that wants to assert itself in the competition. Attempts to train customers to be brand or company loyalty are doomed to failure, as are one-dimensional concepts that focus solely on the cheapest price as a decision criterion, for example. The basis of customer satisfaction are smooth processes, which, thanks to their flexibility, do justice to the individuality of the customer. In a guest post, Dr. Angela Bischoff, Vice President Arvato Systems, explains how retail companies establish efficient omnichannel processes.
Meanwhile: convenience beats brands. One of the biggest challenges for retailers is to provide customers with outstanding and consistent shopping experiences across all channels. According to a recent Study with over 1,500 end customers more than half of consumers would switch providers after one or two negative experiences.
In return, however, 84% are willing to spend more money if the brand gives them unique experiences. This undoubtedly includes omnichannel communication and the possibility of being able to combine order and delivery locations as desired.
© IMAGO / agefotostock
Many roads lead to the customer: Cross-channel services such as Click & Collect are required by many consumers today.
Tip 1: Systematize order management
In order to be able to treat each individual customer as king, a structural and technological setup is required that is geared towards transparency and centrality. This is achieved through a modular and at the same time omnipotent order management system (OMS), which acts as a control center from where the individual features and services can be implemented and activated. The OMS is a “single source of truth” with consistent databases that all employees can access.
Tip 2: keep an eye on the order status
Since an OMS provides all process-relevant data in a central place, a proactive instead of a reactive service offer is possible. For example, a central dashboard shows how long orders are on their way and which process steps take how long. In this way, problematic orders can be identified at an early stage and weak points remedied – before a customer reports angrily.
The entire order flow – from the system to completion, including delivery, payment, returns and customer communication – is continuously monitored and optimized. A central overview of all orders and the respective processing status also includes the division of a customer order into different delivery orders, the handover to logisticians, the packaging and handover to carriers, the status of the transport and the handover to the customer, the current payment status, the return status and any customer communication on the order.
Tip 3: improve customer service
With an omnichannel OMS, companies not only receive a central and up-to-date overview of all stocks in the branches, in their own warehouses and in those of the suppliers. Articles that are in transit and so-called service articles (e.g. assembly service) that have no physical inventory but are still not always and everywhere available are also included here.
In this way, all employees can provide convincing customer service – across all touchpoints: in the branch, in customer care or through business partners such as suppliers. This enables them to react to customer requests and adapt orders flexibly. For example, they have to be able to easily cancel an order in whole or in part, change the delivery location or adjust the payment method.
© IMAGO / Lem
At the fashion retailer Orsay, delivery times were significantly reduced thanks to current inventory information about the various warehouses and branches and the sourcing of products through the OMS.
A customer wants to buy a home appliance online. The OMS now determines that the desired device cannot be delivered at short notice, but there is a successor model in stock, and automatically offers it to the customer. In another case, the online retailer does not have its own warehouse. Only when an order is received does he order the goods from the wholesaler or manufacturer and have them delivered directly to the end customer from there.
With this business model – known as dropshipping – it is particularly important that the exchange of information between shop operators and suppliers works smoothly, because the retailer himself no longer has any physical contact with the product being sold. This includes that the OMS automatically generates the relevant documents such as delivery notes and invoices and makes them available to the sender.
Tip 4: Offer different order and delivery options
Various order and delivery options such as Click & Collect, Click & Reserve, Pick-in-Store, Ship-from-Store and Endless Aisle (shelf extension) are required by many consumers today.
Ship-from-store is quite easy to do. At first sight, nothing changes for the customer. He is usually not interested in whether the goods ordered online are sent to him from e-commerce warehouse A, supplier B or from a stationary branch C. In all three cases the delivery address is the same. But a lot is changing for the trading company, because the place where an order is placed
It is decoupled from the location that takes on the logistical tasks.
These places used to be inextricably linked: those who ordered online received their goods from the e-commerce warehouse or from the supplier. And those who bought in the branch received their goods in the branch. With an OMS, companies can use various criteria to decide from which warehouse they want to deliver orders. The criteria for which branch processes the order, i.e. packs and sends the goods, can be set as desired.
Only with an order management system does a retailer have the opportunity to offer cross-channel services such as Click & Collect or Ship-from-Store without having to adapt the existing solutions such as the ERP, branch or cash register system. Instead, retailers are reducing their costs and improving customer service. This results in stronger customer loyalty and greater customer satisfaction.
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