It's common for businesses to obsess over customer satisfaction levels – after all, it's true that happy customers are key to long lasting success in retail and ecommerce. However, it's only part of a larger picture: the customer experience.
A good customer experience comes from consistently meeting the individual's expectations during ALL touchpoints with your business. Things like the user experience of your website, the content you post in your social media channels, your returns policy, customer service interactions, the unboxing experience, and many other factors are all cumulative to the customer experience.
Someone who was able to find and purchase products they wanted from your site, and received them on time, is a satisfied customer. However, that's not a difficult bar for your competition to clear. That's why focusing on the customer experience your company offers is critical for standing out from competitors and earning customer loyalty.
If you want to implement a backordering system on your ecommerce site, communication is key – not just with your inventory managers but with your customers as well.
Before allowing customer to place backorders on your site, you should have a detailed understanding of your inventory management. Keep the lines of communication open and active with your fulfillment team to help determine the volume of backorders you’d be able to manage. Without this foundation, your backorder system could quickly start causing problems.
Once you’ve established that basis for working with backordered inventory, you’ll need to focus on the customer experience. From the shopper’s experience, ordering products that won’t be delivered right away can be risky or inconvenient. You can improve the backorder experience for your customers through informative communication. Be honest with estimated delivery dates and keep customers in the loop regarding delays as they happen. Let them know when you have the product back in stock, when their order is being processed, and when their order has shipped. If you predict another stockout, advise customers to order refills sooner, rather than later.
Using intel supplied by your inventory management team, you’ll be able to manage expectations and be forthcoming on order status to provide your shoppers with a smooth backordering experience.
In ecommerce, abandonment rate refers to the difference between the number of initiated transactions and completed transactions. For example, if you had 100 users reach your site's checkout page, but only 30 finalized their orders, you'd have an abandonment rate of 70%. The majority of lost sales in ecommerce can be traced back to cart abandonment. The abandonment rate for individual e-tailers varies, but averages to about 69%.
There are several reasons why a shopper abandons a cart. Aside from all the users who are just window shopping or researching products (which you can't really control), most carts are abandoned due things like:
- Complicated checkout process
- Multiple steps and loading screens
- Info collection forms that are too lengthy or numerous
- No option for guest checkout
- New information
- Prices that aren't revealed until checkout, like taxes or shipping costs
- Inflexible return policy
- Inconvenient delivery timing
- Limited payment options
- Privacy or security concerns
As you can see, most causes of cart abandonment boil down to simplicity and convenience. Fortunately, there are many features and preventative measures you can implement to reduce abandonment rates and improve your customers' experience.
A smooth returns process is an important factor in the long-term retention of customers. By easily accepting returns, you’re showing shoppers that you stand behind your products, that you’re willing to fix any issues that cause returns, and that you value customer satisfaction. Turn your return policy into a selling point by using these tips to optimize your product return process.
Take some burden off the customer
Look for opportunities to reduce the onus on your customers for returning products. For example, you could include a return packing slip with instructions in all orders and/or ship products in re-sealable packaging.
Use automated emails to keep customers up to date about the status of their return. This not only keeps customers informed, but it’s a marketing opportunity too; you can use these emails to include alternate product suggestions.
Adopt more lenient policies
Streamline your product return requirements to give customers a hassle-free experience. If possible, eliminate hurdles like strict cutoff dates or requiring that returns are unopened.
Recover associated costs
While implementing the above suggestions may cost you more, returns don’t always have to translate into losses for ecommerce businesses. "Store credit" is a classic example – it encourages repeat business and the value of future orders often exceeds the amount of store credit. If you're worried that your shoppers will be dissatisfied with getting credit instead of a refund, consider offering 110% of the original purchase price back as store credit for returns. Another great way to recoup costs is to hold periodic “opened box sales.” Mark down items and/or refurbish them, and you’ll be able to sell off what would otherwise be unwanted merchandise.
Free shipping is the most effective promotion you can offer ecommerce customers, hands down. However, not every ecommerce site has the ability to shoulder the shipping costs for 100% of their orders. Fortunately, there are many different ways you can have free shipping, and some cost less than others. Below, we go over some ideas you can use to offer free shipping at a reasonable cost.
Set a minimum order condition
Look at your product margins and calculate how much a customer would have to spend on an order to make free shipping easier for you to offer. You can help customers reach that minimum requirement by showing them either products based on their browsing history, or low-margin "add-on" products that cost just enough to make the order qualify for free shipping.
Reserve free shipping as a reward for repeat customers
In ecommerce, returning customers are your bread and butter. In fact, returning customers generate about three times more revenue than new customers. Invest in these customers by offering free shipping as a reward for actions like:
• Placing an order for the first time
• Signing up for your email list
• Participating in a survey or submitting other useful data
• Placing a certain number of orders over time
• Referring new customers
Try free returns instead
It may not be free shipping, but it can relieve customer anxiety about paying for shipping. As the next best thing to free shipping, a free and easy to understand returns process can be a great selling point that increases trust in your brand.
Negotiate with your shipping provider
Review your current shipping expenses to find the major cost factors, and research the prices from competitors to get a better understanding of average shipping costs. If your carrier can give you a better deal, free shipping may become a more viable option for you. At Fulfillment Works, we are always negotiating with carriers for the lowest price so we can pass those discounts on to our clients, which allows them to give better shipping rates to their customers.