How a 3PL can help you satisfy digital consumer expectations

CONDIVIDI SU

Consumers, today, are constantly online. This means that retail becomes a 24/7 business, as users can shop whenever they want and wherever they are. Embracing the constant digital presence of consumers undoubtedly unfolds a horizon of opportunities but doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges too. In particular, people have grown accustomed to obtaining information or services immediately. If this doesn’t happen, they’re likely to look at new buying sources. In this article, we will reflect on the new-age retail dynamics and uncover strategies to meet the new expectations of digital clients.

Non-linear purchases

The retail landscape has become anything but predictable. The rise of digital platforms has reconfigured the customer journey into a non-linear and constant adventure. There is no longer a set path and customers travel across different stages, shifting between channels – online and offline – fluidly. The digital remains a realm for exploring, comparing, and purchasing products, open round the clock, and accommodating the modern consumer’s expectation of flexibility and control.

This means brands need to evolve their digital presence to meet customers’ desires. In what way? Let’s see how.

Robust customer service

Meeting consumer expectations necessitates a robust customer service infrastructure, possibly through AI-powered chatbots, for after-hours enquiries, as well as social media or via app, ensuring consumer issues are addressed promptly at any time.

Easy access to information

Try and think which information is crucial for your customers and make it clear for them. Providing easy access to crucial information like shipment tracking, return policies, and transaction histories across all your digital platforms can significantly enhance their shopping experience.

Seamless multi-channel experience

Today’s consumers are not tied to a single channel but they operate in a rich digital ecosystem, researching online, buying in-store, sharing feedback through mobile apps or asking questions on social media networks.

Making sure all these interactions are tied together allows you to create a coherent digital profile every time a customer wants to engage with your brand.

With all this information gathered from different channels, the challenge is making isolated systems flow in a unified customer profile. This is why technology integration is the asset every business needs, in order to ensure data is integrated and reflected in every interaction.

 

Technology integration

Ensuring a seamless flow of data across different platforms requires a robust technological infrastructure, where data is updated in real-time and customers receive consistent service, information, and engagement regardless of the channel they decide to interact through. Let’s make everything clearer with a concrete example.

Without appropriate technology integration, the most common scenario is the following: the inventory levels between different channels are not synchronized. This leads to situations where a customer buys online and orders a product that is actually out of stock in the warehouse. The consequences are serious: delays, cancellations, and ultimately the user won’t come back to shop from the brand again. Bad word of mouth can be as damaging as a wildfire for any brand!

  • Automation: automation is the secret to speed up the fulfillment and returns process, ensuring that all items are quickly processed, delivered and restocked.
  • Real-time inventory management: real-time inventory tracking is essential to provide accurate information to customers, reducing the likelihood of issues during checkout and delivery phases.

Personalize the customer experience

Today’s buyers want brands to know their personal preferences and purchase history. In fact, 75% of customers admit being more likely to buy from a company that recognizes them by their name, knows their purchase history, sends personalized offers and recommends products based on their past purchases.

Customer convenience

Brands need to be able to accommodate all customers and their diverse needs. This means facilitating easy checkouts, offering seamless returns, as well as offering a variety of shipping options and payment methods.

Reducing steps: simplify checkout process by reducing the number of steps required to complete a purchase to the bare minimum. 

Guest Checkout Option: allow customers the option to check out as guests rather than forcing them to create an account.

Incorporate one-click checkout option

Clear Pricing: ensure that all costs, including shipping fees, are transparent and provided upfront to avoid unpleasant surprises at checkout.

Delivery options: allow customers to choose from different delivery options to suit their needs, like home delivery, expedited delivery or pickup points.

Payment methods: offer different payment methods, like credit or debit card, Paypal, digital wallets or COD.

Return policies: make your return policies clear, straightforward and easy for your customers. They will be more likely to purchase from your store if they know they can return the item they bought without paying and without hassle.

Speed and efficiency

The impetus for instant gratification drives the need to adopt digital strategies that prioritize speed and efficiency in fulfillment. Partnering with a 3PL can significantly reduce response times and enhance operational efficiency.

Environmental responsibility

More and more buyers are concerned about their environmental impact and look for brands who embed ethical and sustainable practices within their operations and product offerings. Adopting green logistics practices and transparently communicating these efforts to consumers is essential, not only to support evolving purchasing preferences but also to promote more sustainable shopping practices.

Conclusions

To engage modern buyers, and meet their expectations of a seamless shopping experience regardless of channel, brands need to realign their digital strategies to make sure they remain relevant in today’s retail landscape.