Delivery fluctuations in retail: 5 alternative strategies for the customer journey
Permanent product bottlenecks, rising prices and reduced demand in the stationary business: the retail trade is fighting for customers and sales on all fronts.
Because gaps in the shelves online offer the opportunity for customers to make different purchasing decisions than originally intended. With this in mind, we have put together five success factors for the customer journey when it comes to changing the range or product quickly.
Especially young groups of buyers hardly ever decide between different communication channels. They want a seamless shopping experience – anytime, anywhere. The factors of product availability, price, data security and customer service play a decisive role. If you take these criteria into account in your customer journey, you can keep customers who are willing to switch and win new ones.
Due to high fluctuations within the supply chains, the previous manufacturer-dealer relationship is becoming more and more unbalanced. If a desired branded product is no longer commercially available, the consumer wants an adequate replacement. What’s more, he’s even willing to change brands. Trade brands have to react to this, which often results in the termination of existing cooperations with manufacturers.
Product bottlenecks at large retail chains offer good opportunities, especially for small regional retailers. You have the opportunity to market good alternative products through your shop, since according to the Gesellschaft für Verbraucherforschung (GfK) the willingness of consumers to switch is currently high. Small retailers can also use this situation to test the attractiveness of new ranges or products with the end customer and thus open up new customer segments (upselling).
Consumers are generally sensitive when it comes to product availability and pricing. Already at check-in, they attach great importance to specifying the price at which the desired product is still available. Shop operators should therefore make sure to display how many products are still in stock at what price or when the product will be available in the shop again throughout the entire shopping process (category, product detail and shopping cart pages).
If a product only has low availability, it is advisable to inform the customer about new stocks via push message. But the return process must also be correct: items or products that are no longer in stock should be removed from all shopping portals used (e.g. Google Shopping).
The status of important product attributes, such as availability or price discounts, should show an hourly match both in the web shop and in exported feeds (Google Shopping, Facebook catalogue). Specifically, the “Inform me as soon as available again” function can be very helpful. However, this only applies to online shops with moderate product range changes. If alternative products are included in the shop, it is advisable to carry out an analysis of search engine marketing beforehand in order to find out how many potential customers could be interested in them.
Even during the registration process, retailers can use their chance to retain customers in the face of overwhelming competition. It starts with the login process. Anyone who makes individual authentication as easy and smooth as possible has a clear advantage. Because from the moment of login, a retailer can determine who the interested party is, what their preferred product, shipping preferences and payment methods are.
Before this happens, it is important that the shop has the login preferred by the end consumer (e.g. social login or single sign-on) ready and states how it processes 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. On the other hand, 78 percent of the consumers surveyed stated that they stopped registering for online shops/apps if the process was too tedious. 65 percent of them expect secure handling of their personal data.
Especially with increased contact restrictions in the stationary area, online trade should pay special attention to the individual balance between online ordering and delivery. Ultimately, the end customer should be tied to the shop through an order and delivery cycle that is as individual as possible. In the end, it really is the small nuances in shipping communication that make the difference. Each shipping step cannot be turned into a personal reason for communication. For example, the receipt of the order is confirmed and a virtual consultant is available.
After that, the start of shipping will also be announced via a link to track the item’s route, possibly combined with a trial offer for a new product or a voucher. As part of the “Click & Collect” service, some regional dealers are already offering “requested delivery” online. This gives the customer the opportunity to receive the goods based on their individual availability.
The ship-from-store concept offers an economical alternative. The aim here is to send the product to the customer from the nearest branch, which saves storage costs and delivery service. In any case, the following applies: the more individual and flexible ordering and delivery options are offered, the better for customer loyalty.
Returns management plays an important role, especially with strict contact restrictions in stationary shops. Since the end customer does not have the opportunity to view the product in the store, he needs digital fallback options that should not cause him any additional work or costs.
Merchants should clearly communicate their return policy to avoid the end customer encountering hidden costs or cumbersome return procedures. Should there be any costs (e.g. due to the shipment of goods from abroad), these must already be apparent to the end customer when the order is placed. Electronically generated receipts and return labels are also part of the standard that a customer expects today.