Satisfied customers are the key to success for retail businesses. Happy customers become repeat customers and will also recommend your brand to their friends. A Forbes article demonstrates a clear correlation between high customer satisfaction and substantial profits.
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Dissatisfied customers, however, can damage your business. The old business axiom that an unhappy customer will tell nine to 10 people about their experience is still alive.
Some customers are more demanding than others. You can’t do much to change that. But, you can try to cater to their individual needs and wants. One pain point for many customers is delivery. Customers have come to expect next-day delivery. At the very least, customers need to be able to trust that they’ll receive their package when you tell them they will.
Here are some ways to satisfy customers who have high expectations about delivery times.
Consider Outsourcing Fulfillment
Managing fulfillment on your own can be a complex task, particularly for small- to medium-sized businesses. Accurate, quick shipping requires hiring and training employees in the various shipping methods, taxes, customs regulations, and international trade rules. Having a warehouse close to the customers can often improve delivery times. Adding warehouses can become quite expensive as your business expands into other regions. Finally, demand in most retail businesses is seasonal, and scaling can be challenging.
One way to scale your business and add new warehouses quickly is to partner with a third party logistics firm. A 3PL partner can store the product inexpensively and ship it using the most effective method. The partner also has the responsibility of hiring and training workers. When a 3PL takes care of the hiring and training, you have more time to spend on producing and marketing your product. A quality 3PL partner will also have invested in the best automation and software, which will make for an efficient operation.
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Expand Delivery Options
Customers are individuals. Some customers prefer the convenience of having the package delivered to their front door. For others, speed of delivery means everything, and they are willing to pick it up at a nearby drop-off location or from a locker so they’ll have it faster. Still, others may be more price-sensitive and are willing to wait up to five days for delivery if shipping is free.
The Interactive Media in Retail Group (an e-commerce membership group in the United Kingdom) has studied consumer delivery preferences. Globally, 88 percent of customers opt for home delivery. However, collecting in-store is also popular, with about 62 percent of UK consumers and 56 percent of US consumers choosing it. Delivery to a pickup point is also appealing, particularly for European shoppers.
One way to meet customer expectations on delivery is to offer various delivery options. The most popular options can vary based on product, season, and region. Research can help you determine which options are most important to your customers.
Organize the Warehouse
Few things are more challenging than trying to fulfill an order quickly while having trouble finding the product in the warehouse. The first organizational step is to optimize the warehouse layout. Choose a clean design that allows for ease of movement, and be sure to leave enough room for the receiving department to do their work.
Consider how to store products so that picking is easiest. For example, use racks that stack items vertically and use forklifts or automation to retrieve items from higher shelves. Also, label shelves with product names and photographs for easy recognition. Consider which products are pulled together and locate them near each other. Also, place high-selling items near the front to save walking.
Another way to improve efficiency is to reduce the number of different-sized shipping containers you use. Instead of storing multiple sizes, concentrate on three or four. Whatever you do, be sure to communicate with employees about any changes.
Implement Cutting-Edge Technology
Technology can streamline the fulfillment process and provide customers with up-to-date tracking information. Streamlined processes mean faster delivery. And, often, you can appease demanding customers by providing tools, so they’ll know exactly where their package is at all times.
Warehouse management software helps streamline the process from the receipt of raw materials to the fulfillment of orders. Companies generally use it in conjunction with other systems, such as order, inventory, product information, and transportation management systems. Warehouse management software can help you optimize your warehouse space and help employees find products. It can also track inventory and send advance shipping notifications to carriers.
Order management software can track orders as they come in from different marketplaces and split them across warehouses based on efficiency. It also manages returns efficiently. A product information system manages shipping information such as weight and dimensions and adds new products as they arrive at the warehouse.
Physical automation tools, such as collaborative robots and autonomous vehicles, can reduce human error, minimize labor, and improve customer service.
The Bottom Line
Demanding customers will always be with you. Some customers will have high expectations around delivery. You can make your fulfillment more efficient by implementing technology, organizing the warehouse, expanding delivery options, and outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics company.