Online retailers face consumer fulfillment challenges this Christmas

BY Australian Retailers Association
24 November 2016

With Australian consumers predicted to spend more than $48.1 billion this Christmas it is crucial that all retailers ensure customer orders are fulfilled efficiently and customer loyalty is sustained.

Patrick Viney, Head of Retail Industry Strategy at JDA Australia, has identified the fulfilment challenges facing retailers in the face of heightened expectations in JDA’s latest Consumer Pulse Report.

According to Mr Viney, planning for Christmas “is vitally important to any retailer wanting to ensure a seamless experience for its customers”.
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As the volume of online shopping transactions increase during this silly season, so does the potential for problems to occur. Customers demand a flawless online shopping experience, leading them to be increasingly intolerant of poor service and delivery.

The Consumer Pulse Report highlights the top five tips for retailers to take on board during this Christmas period.

1. Solving problems with online orders

With online retailers continuing to mature, customers are demanding a flawless online shopping experience, leading to them growing increasingly tolerant of poor service.

From a supply chain perspective having accurate and timely forecasts incorporating all sales channels is critical for ensuring placement of inventory at the right locations. Knowing where that demand is coming from, whether online or bricks and mortar, is equally as important as where the demand will be fulfilled, ie. in store or home delivery.

2. Click and Collect

Australians have been embracing click and collect with more retailers now offering this service to their customers. Frustration often occurs in the lead up to Christmas when packages are not delivered on time.

Retailers need to ensure their workforce is aligned to handle click and collect customers. Inventory visibility is a critical factor in ensuring the right decisions are made with regards to inventory movements. Visibility is also important to share with customers when placing orders online.

3. Customer intolerance and growing expectations

As online shopping in Australia begins to mature, customers are seeking multiple touch points with retailers and brand owners and are seeking more than just an online shopping experience. As a result, pure play online retailers are looking for new ways to engage the customer.

SMEs in particular, need to provide a seamless shopping journey that connects their physical and digital channels. Inventory visibility and the ability to execute on the fulfilment methods offered are essential in meeting customer expectations. Having a supply chain that is flexible enough to cater to those expectations can be key to ensuring a profitable outcome for the retailer.

New store formats are also including digital inside their stores through the use of interactive mirrors, beacons and self-service kiosks for online orders. The seamless interaction between physical and digital provides customers with a brand experience that creates return visits.

4. Issue resolution

As retailers improve their online offerings and their fulfilment methods so too are customers’ expectations increasing. There is much less tolerance for issues with orders. They believe the retailer is responsible for resolving delivery problems. Successful retailers will be those that can ensure that when there is a problem they have real time visibility to where the order is and maintain a positive engagement with their customer.

Retailers must ensure that the customer can engage in any channel and receive the same brand experience across all channels. This means ensuring consistency of pricing and promotions, having visibility of inventory across the channels and ensuring that when they are in the store the right associates are in place to engage and enhance the customer experience.

5. Returns

Returning items is an area of concern for most retailers. To assist retailers overcome the heavy cost of return, retailers need to start adopting a more segmented approach to dealing with the different behaviours customers have around returns.

It might seem an obvious point, but product information is absolutely vital online and more effort needs to be put into how items are described. This could generate significant cost savings to retailers and deliver a better online shopping experience to customers.

Seamless fulfilment of customer orders is critical for retailers to keep, gain and delight shoppers this festive season. For more information, visit www.jda.com or sign up to our newsletters below.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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