Customer Journey: Delivery Bottlenecks: Alternative Strategies for Online Business

No more PCs, no bicycles, no assembly kit for the shelf anymore: The problems in the global supply chains have noticeable consequences. Especially for dealers who get their products from Far Eastern China. Ivana Nikic from the Norisk Group has put together how it can still succeed in boosting online sales despite persistent product bottlenecks, and what alternative strategies there are.

Against the background of delayed or completely discontinued product deliveries, the traditional manufacturer-dealer relationship is becoming increasingly unbalanced. Demand is high and certain products are in short supply.

In order not to have to forego their own margins, some manufacturers are dissolving their dealer relationships, only offering the limited goods in their own shop and increasing the price. This development is particularly evident in the cooperation between well-known retail brands and small regional providers.

© IMAGO / Westend61

Before Christmas in particular, customers react sensitively when it comes to the availability of goods.

Use changed dealer relationships as an opportunity

However, delivery bottlenecks for certain items in the shop (e.g. sneakers) also give smaller retailers the opportunity to up-trade. You can use the situation, for example, to include alternative products (e.g. from regional production) in your range. This would enable them to test their attractiveness with end customers and possibly open up completely new customer segments.

According to current findings from “Global Shopper Study” from Zebra Technologies, young buyers in particular hardly differentiate between different trading channels. You want a seamless shopping experience – anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Success criteria for customer journey and customer service

In particular, the criteria of product availability, transparent pricing, data security and simple returns management are extremely important to them. Above all, retailers “from the second row”, who have less budget and resources available to run an online shop, should take this into account when developing their customer journey.

1. Journey check: How available are the goods?

Against the background of ever new delivery bottlenecks for various products, the consumer reacts particularly sensitively when it comes to the availability and pricing of products. As soon as they enter the shop, they pay greater attention to the price at which the desired product is still available.

Shop operators should therefore ensure that they show how many products are still in stock at what price, or when the product will be available in the shop again throughout the entire purchasing process (category, product detail, and shopping cart pages). For this it is important to establish push notifications as reminders for products that are in the shopping cart and have low availability.

Remove sold-out items from the range on all channels

In addition, it is important to ensure that sold out products are removed from the range across all channels and platforms (e.g. with Google Shopping).

The status of important attributes of the products, such as availability or price discounts, should correspond to the hour in both the web shop and in exported feeds (Google Shopping, Facebook catalog). Specifically, the “inform me as soon as available again” function can be very helpful if shops do not have major product range changes.

If alternative products are to be offered via the shop, it is advisable to use search engine marketing to analyze how many potential customers are looking for the product that is no longer available in order to then suggest the alternative to them.

Containers are scarce, cargo ships are jammed in front of ports: world trade has lost its rhythm.

© IMAGO / Panthermedia

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2. Journey check: How fast does the onboarding work?

Even during the registration process, retailers can use their opportunity to retain customers in the face of overwhelming competition. It starts with the log-in procedure. Anyone who makes the individual authentication as simple and smooth as possible here has a clear advantage. From the moment they log in, a retailer can determine who the prospect is, what their preferred product preferences and payment methods are.

Before this happens, it is first of all important that the shop has the log-in preferred by the end user (e.g. social log-in or single sign-on) ready and specifies how it will process the personal data.

Just recently, the identity provider Auth0 found out in a study that retail brands that take this to heart are rewarded with follow-up purchases by customers. On the other hand, 78% of the consumers surveyed stated that they canceled the registration for online shops / apps if the process was too laborious. 65% of them assume that their personal data will be handled securely.

3. Journey check: How well are the order and delivery status communicated?

Especially with increased contact restrictions, it is important for online retailers to find the right balance between online ordering and delivery. Ultimately, the customer should be tied to the trademark through an order and delivery cycle that is as individually tailored as possible to him.

Niche retailers can score points here, for example, with particularly simple and personal communication from ordering to delivery. It’s the nuances in shipping communication that make the difference. For example, the retailer can address each shipping step individually, drawing attention to the reliability of the delivery, but also to complementary products.

In addition to Click & Collect, he could also communicate a “desired delivery”. This gives the customer the opportunity to receive the goods according to their individual availability. The more individual and flexible ordering and delivery options are offered, the better for customer loyalty.

4. Journey check: How transparently are shipping and returns processed?

Particularly in the case of products that are in high demand, the consumer attaches great importance to close information management on the part of the shop operator. This applies to temporarily sold out or limited products. For example, he expects an active notification when the desired item is available again, or a recommendation for a product alternative.

When shipping returns, retailers should make sure that they communicate the return conditions very clearly and that there are no hidden costs. If costs are incurred (e.g. for shipping goods from abroad), these must be apparent to the customer when the order is placed. The return period and the fee can also be specified via the Google Merchant Center.


The federal government has agreed on a draft supply chain law that is due to come into force in 2023.

© IMAGO / Joerg Boethling

Supply Chain Act

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© IMAGO / Ikon Images

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Morning Briefing

Bundesnetzagentur, Wefox, Ippen Digital, supply chains, Amazon, Alibaba, JD-Logistics, AmaZen, women in e-commerce

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