During a period of prolonged economic recession one sector of the global market has experienced unrivaled financial growth; e-commerce. According to Forrester Research, eCommerce revenues for the US are set to hit $262 billion this year and projected to grow to $370 billion by 2017. Additionally, eCommerce sales continue to outpace total retail sales at a significant rate. Shop.org predicts that in 2013 online sales will increase between 9.0% and 12.0% over 2012, while total retail sales are estimated to increase just 3.4%. It is imperative that e-commerce retailers are focusing their online retail strategy on increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty in order to drive profitability in an industry that is rampant with competition.
In the world of online shopping, customer satisfaction does not end with the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger. The impact of customer satisfaction on profitability cannot be understated, and the post-purchase customer experience is just as important as the purchase itself. There are several factors that can influence consumers while on your website and there needs to be a seamless transaction all the way from online research through final delivery.
Here are five keys to customer satisfaction that you need to consider if you want to improve your eCommerce retail strategy.
- Accuracy (Right Product): In accordance with Wyatt Earp’s belief that “fast is fine, but accuracy is everything”, we can understand that receiving the right product is one of the most important keys to customer satisfaction. In a recent survey by Voxware, approximately one out of every three respondents (29%) said that they would abandon shopping altogether with a retailer if they received one incorrect delivery. This equates not only to one lost customer for life, but combined with the impact of social media and word of mouth, this could seriously impact brand image and performance. Therefore, it is immeasurably important to run multiple accuracy checks, run by multiple employees to reduce the risk of errors.
- On Time Delivery: According to a survey from Comscore, 42% of shoppers have ABANDONED an online shopping cart because of the delivery date. Communication of the expected delivery date of the order is critical to your online retail strategy because it sets the correct expectation for the consumer. Conversely, 41% of shoppers RECOMMENDED a retailer when they received their product when expected which can lead to increased loyalty and new customers. Speed is crucial to eCommerce operations. The ability to turnaround orders within the same or next day is one of the keys to customer satisfaction.
- Order Tracking: has in recent years become a necessity for online retailers with 75% of customers believing it is a service that every retailer should offer. These primarily include email notifications containing a unique tracking number as well as having the ability to check directly on the retailer’s website for the tracking information whether it is pending, en route or arrived
- Speed: As an eCommerce retailer it is crucially important to “under promise and over deliver”. Consumer expectations for speed have been raised by services like Amazon Prime so it’s no surprise that (according to Voxware) 48% of respondents expect their deliveries in less than 4 days at little or no cost to them. Additionally,17% of respondents will abandon shopping with a retailer altogether after receiving just one late delivery and this number increases to 55% if it happens for a second or third time. Retailers that are doing their own order fulfillment can find it difficult to meet these expectations in a cost efficient way as they don’t have the infrastructure to support both speed and economies of scale. Operating multiple distribution centers or outsourcing fulfillment to a third party can not only increase speed of delivery but also save dramatically on shipping costs.
- Free Shipping: Many consumers today expect free shipping for orders of a specified value and this can highly influence customer loyalty. According to Comscore, 65% of respondents have recommended a retailer due to the availability of free or discounted shipping. Retailers should clearly state their free shipping policies on their website so it’s clear to the consumer before they get to checkout. If it is not feasible for you to offer free shipping to customers due to the complexity and cost of your current organization, then it may be a good time to consider how an outsourced fulfillment provider can help improve your online retail strategy.