Immediacy. It is everything in commerce today. Online shoppers click and expect to have merchandise in hand the next day – if not sooner. Consumers buy online and pickup in store – or ‘click and collect.’ Goods bought online can be delivered to lockers in train stations, supermarkets and even petrol stations. People can pick up their purchases on the way home from work. In truth, there’s any number of ways to get goods into the hands of online shoppers fast. The trick is to make it seem easy – and that can be hard.
How do you meet the needs of increasingly impatient click-and-expect buyers? Two key ingredients: Technology and data. That’s how the magic happens. The problem is that many retailers are saddled with highly fragmented, antiquated technology that is more Frankenstein than Harry Potter.
Channels are not connected. Customer-facing systems can’t talk fluently to backend technology, impeding effective order management and efficient fulfilment – the kiss of death for click and expect. And, the data – oh, the data. One customer and multiple profiles completely obscure a clear vision of the buyer and how they interact with your brand.
The fact is that many retailers are at least 10 years behind the times when it comes to commerce technology and catering to online shoppers that click and expect. They are competing with up-and-coming brands that have burst on the scene with agile, intelligent, cloud-based commerce technology that can create highly satisfying and unique customer journeys. Data offers a single view of each customer that’s meticulously managed and kept relevant. Marketing is personal and social – and spot on when it comes to understanding what the online shopper wants. Intelligent order management and fulfilment systems complete the picture – and the click-and-expect experience.
NO EXPENSE SPARED
So, if 52% of online shoppers in the UK say they expect next-day delivery*, how do you deliver? Invest in well-integrated, intelligent commerce technology that empowers business users with accurate data flowing throughout the customer journey.
Imagine a luxury brand that sells high-end leather goods. Let’s say a customer buys an expensive handbag online that they want the next day. Your commerce system finds the handbag in inventory, but it’s continents away. An intelligent system with access to accurate data reveals that the online shopper is a VIP customer that you want to keep – at all costs. Through business rules you’ve defined – and that are identified and executed by your commerce solution – the order is fulfilled and sent to the online shopper via courier overnight. No expense is spared, but you’ve retained a loyal, customer and brand ambassador.
THE SUCCESS, THE SECRET
In the UK, the PFS team designed and delivered commerce technology for one of country’s top toy retailers, leading the award-winning brand’s digital transformation. With the right technology in place, the brand perfected click and expect. Online orders can be fulfilled within store in 30 minutes or delivered same day. And, if items are out of stock, the order can be fulfilled the next day through the brand’s distribution centre. If you’re in store and the goods you want are not in stock, you can order in-store for either next day collection at a store of your choice or select home delivery.
The secret to this success – a success validated by double-digit sales growth since the brand’s online transformation — is an effective, cloud-based stock management system coupled with tightly integrated eCommerce technology. Every evening between midnight and 4 am available stock is monitored in each store. Data is collected on 17,000+ products. This ensures that the availability offered to click-and-collect customers is accurate and updated in real time. Once again, accurate data is everything and paves the way for flawless execution of click and expect.
THE BIG THREE
Does this mean a complete overhaul of technology systems is required? Not necessarily. You may simply need to review what components of that customer journey are delivered on what platform you have in your stack. But catering to click-and-expect online shoppers does demand focus on three key imperatives:
- Flexibility: Ensure that your commerce systems are flexible – that they bend with customer demand and enable flexible fulfilment options. And, remember, the faster, the better. Partnering with an experienced technology and fulfilment partner can remove obstacles and cost associated with click and expect.
- Process: Wherever you can, move process decisions from the backend of your commerce platform to the frontend. At peak trading times, you want to limit expensive calls to backend systems whilst having the ability to deliver intelligent fulfilment through a personalised customer experience. To achieve this, you must select the right commerce platform — one that scales and allows for customisation.
- Data: Most retailers have only basic customer data such as contact information and product purchases. Best-in-class sellers know their customers well enough to recommend purchases and predict preferences. Why? They collect and refine customer data, building a single view of each online shopper. Tap into accurate data and you are giving your marketers control – to sell more, to sell faster, to engage more customers.
* Source: eMarketer, Ampersand “YouGov Consumer Survey – Delivery 2017,” April 2017