Thanks to fierce competition in the retail world, consumers have more and more options when it comes to shopping. And whether it’s online, mobile or in-store, both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers have diligently stepped up their games to keep up with new demands.
One option still gaining popularity is buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). According to a report by Adobe Analytics, BOPIS increased 50 percent over the 2018 holiday season. But effective BOPIS retail strategies have proved somewhat challenging for retailers. What makes click-and-collect so tricky to execute?
There are several components that can trip up a BOPIS strategy, including inventory inaccuracies, communication, and execution.
However, there are best practices you can use to better your BOPIS retail strategy and improve the consistency of your service offering.
TRACK YOUR INVENTORY (ACCURATELY)
Today’s fulfillment options mean many moving parts for omnichannel retailers. Things can get especially tricky when online customers shop for products specifically marked as available for BOPIS. Imagine, for example, two customers add the same item to their online cart, but your store only has one of those items in stock. Come checkout, one of those shoppers won’t be happy – you’ll likely lose a sale, and possibly a customer.
This is why as a retailer, you need to implement real-time cross-channel inventory tracking and order fulfillment to keep your inventory as up to date as possible.
Inventory that isn't carefully tracked and managed can create big problems down the road. Make sure to incorporate best practices into your day-to-day inventory management. It is crucial to the success of your BOPIS retail strategy.
SWEAT THE DETAILS
If not everything you sell online is available for BOPIS, be clear about it from the get-go.
Enable your online customers to set their store location and add a filter that gives them the ability to shop for products that are only available for in-store pickup. Be sure to promote your filter at the top of your product pages; you want shoppers to know if they can pick up their orders in-store before they begin shopping.
Once your customer places a BOPIS order, communication is key. Send an immediate confirmation and include order details, clear directions on where to pick up in-store, and what forms of identification are needed.
NAIL YOUR PICK-UP PROCESS
Are you placing your BOPIS pickup points at the back of your store to seduce customers into buying more stuff? Don’t. Instead, make it easy for your customers to retrieve their orders by placing your pickup location at the front of your store. Use clear signage or even consider curbside service to designated parking spaces. Remember, your customers don’t want to feel manipulated; they chose your BOPIS service because they want a quick and convenient online shopping experience.
Another important factor in the pick-up process is to make sure your staff has the information they need to make your customers' BOPIS experience a good one. They should be able to retrieve orders quickly and know how to handle potential problems such as returns. Or consider having dedicated staff specifically for your BOPIS orders. Either way, proper staff training will help ensure a successful BOPIS strategy.
Do you even need a BOPIS strategy? What if it’s just a fad?
According to a Signifyd survey, millennials' shopping preferences are what’s driving the need for BOPIS. And despite its implementation challenges, BOPIS is here to stay. If you’re a retailer wanting to make the most of this shopping experience, make sure you understand and follow BOPIS best practices.
The experience that shoppers have with your ecommerce brand isn't limited to interactions with your website. It continues offline through the product fulfillment process – including how an order is packaged, the condition of the items in an order, and efficiency of the returns process. While your direct control over shipping and handling is limited during the last mile, there are a few things you can do before packages leave your warehouse that will go a long way toward giving customers a delivery experience that makes a good impression.
In a Harris Poll survey (funded by packaging manufacturer, Sealed Air) of more than 2,000 U.S. adult consumers, 66% believed that an item’s packaging tells them something about how much the brand cares about them. From excessive or messy dunnage (like Styrofoam peanuts) to small products in oversized containers – when customers are left to do the dirty work of cleaning up all that wasteful material, their experience with your brand suffers. Customizing your packaging to an optimal size can not only help create a better brand image in the eyes of your customers, it can reduce shipping and materials costs over the long-term.
In the previously mentioned survey, 59% of consumers believed that retailers and carriers are equally responsible for damage to a product that was ordered online. By right-sizing your containers and using the latest in dunnage technology, you can better protect your shipments and spare your customers the disappointing experience of waiting for an order, only for it to arrive in less than mint condition. Additionally, since customers are more likely to place the blame on you if your products arrived damaged, strive to work more closely with your carriers and/or 3PL provider to find solutions for reducing damaged inventory.
By mastering reverse logistics, you can minimize the cost of the returns processing and recoup lost profit from the returned product. But more importantly, customers love a smooth returns process, so your customer satisfaction can increase as well. Remember: Every return is another point of engagement with your customer. It should reflect the same focus and attention to detail as every other part of the customer experience. Once you assure a customer that your returns process is easy, then you eliminate hesitation from the next purchase and convince them to shop with you again and again.
A good customer experience (CX) comes from consistently meeting shoppers' expectations during ALL touchpoints with your ecommerce business. Things like the UX design of your website, the tone and content of social media posts & marketing emails, your returns policy, customer service interactions, and the unboxing experience are just a few examples of customer experience factors that e-tailers tend to prioritize. However, despite improved understanding and measurement of how supply chains impact customers, little progress has been made in recent years towards using this information to make CX better.
In a joint study from logistics companies, Convey and eft, designed to assess the importance of customer experience in last mile delivery, 96% of survey respondents said CX is a critical measure of last-mile success. Despite this, just 5% of respondents said their current supply chain management systems fully support efforts to improve CX, while 61% said their systems do nothing to improve CX.
For e-tailers who want to improve their CX through last-mile fulfillment, increasing the level of transparency into your supply chain is a great starting point. For one, you can’t make improvements to your supply chain unless you understand all of the moving parts involved – so building up your visibility into the chain should be a natural extension of your work to uncover opportunities for improvement. Secondly, sharing supply chain visibility and inventory levels with your customers can improve their shopping experience.
The result is a win-win scenario. By enhancing fulfillment visibility, you can improve CX by providing inventory levels on product pages, back-in-stock alerts, accurate order tracking, and other features that help remove friction and uncertainty from the buyer’s journey. On the fulfillment side, better visibility into your supply chain and inventory levels can help you increase process efficiency to provide faster order delivery.
If you're still undecided about adding a live chat option to your e-commerce site, it's probably time you get off the fence. Why? Because consumers are a chatty bunch.
When it comes to communicating with companies, today’s consumers want a variety of options across multiple channels, according to a recent study from customer service firm Gladly. They also expect zero repeats and one answer.
That may seem like a tall order, but today, the quality of your company’s customer service is what sets you apart from the pack. In fact, Gladly found that 54% of consumers make decisions based on customer service, with 68% saying they’d pay more for products and services from a company with a strong customer service record.
To put the popularity of live chatting into perspective, it’s also important to understand who the largest consumer demographic in the world belongs to right now: millennials. This is the first generation to have grown up around computers and smartphones. They expect their shopping experiences to be seamless and technology-driven – and that includes customer service, where they demand quick responses to their queries, preferably via chat.
Adding live chat to your e-commerce site has a host of benefits. Here are our Top 5:
1. It's Fast
A live chat immediately connects your customer with a representative. Traditional call center directories, meanwhile, can be difficult to navigate and can quickly aggravate customers, especially if they’re placed in a lengthy queue.
2. It's Easy
In a live chat, information is easier to relay. For example, confirmation numbers can be cut and pasted, and product links can be shared and clicked. Instructions tend to be easier to understand and the chat moves along at your customer’s pace.
3. It's Practical
We know consumers want a variety of customer service options available across multiple channels. Live chats can be initiated on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone at any time.
4. It's Convenient
Live chats don’t involve call transfers and your customers will never be asked to repeat information. In most cases, problems are resolved quickly and more efficiently, increasing customer satisfaction.
5. It's Effective
Live chat software can sync with other related systems and services, so information about previous orders and chats can be easily accessed and aggregated. That helps you provide a better customer experience across the board.
While live chat is a great way to appease modern consumers who prefer texting and messaging, it can be equally beneficial to your e-commerce business. With live chat, you’ll gain a better grasp of your customers’ pain points, which can help improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. Remember, your e-commerce company’s approach to customer service is critical for lasting success.
It’s been almost 10 years since subscription box services like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club hit the market and changed the way we shop. Now, you can pretty much get a box delivered to your door every month for whatever whim you have: beauty, gaming, fitness, pets, and more.
In fact, there are over 5 million subscription box shoppers in the U.S. alone, and the market is still growing. And it’s not just startups – established brands are jumping into the fray, including Sephora (with Play!) and Walmart (with Beauty Box).
With more than 600 retailers offering subscription boxes, how can you make yours stand out from the rest? Whether you’re starting a new subscription box service or trying to minimize churn rates for an existing one, here are some tips to help you succeed:
Think inside your curated box
Of course it's all about the box, but we don't just mean the random items inside of it. One thing box recipients appreciate most is the personalization, or the feeling that their box was uniquely curated just for them. Do the research and captivate your customers with your customization.
And don’t just consider demographics like age and location. In your personalization questionnaire, find out what your customers’ biggest challenges are, and what their level of expertise is with your products. This will help you deliver a more tailored experience, which is critical for any subscription box provider.
The better you can predict what your subscribers will like, the more likely they are to keep their subscription going.
Don’t get boxed-in
It’s OK to break some of the rules, some of the time – especially when it comes to subscription box services. For example, is it written in stone that you have to ship monthly? (Hint: it’s not.) Maybe your box is more of a quarterly thing. Or maybe your box could be part of a loyalty program for a legacy retailer.
Another thing to consider is letting subscribers choose their level of service by offering different subscription tiers. A customer reconsidering a $21 monthly subscription might be OK spending $10 on a smaller one.
Don’t limit your service by what everyone else is doing.
Capture that unboxing feeling
You know that rush recipients get when they open their curated box of goodies, eager to discover what’s inside? Think about ways to prolong that feeling until the next delivery. The last thing you want is your customer spending the next four weeks contemplating the service.
Make sure to engage your subscribers all month long. Here are some suggestions to keep the momentum going:
- Encourage subscribers to post unboxing videos or better yet, Facebook Live them. Engage with your subscribers on social media by liking or sharing their posts and reactions. And don’t stop there. Encourage subscribers to post reviews for the individual products inside their boxes as well.
- Create a loyalty program that allows subscribers to earn points they can redeem for more products. Points, for example, could be earned for referrals, product reviews, videos and social media shares.
- Build anticipation by adding teasers about next month’s loot to this month’s box, posting sneak peeks to your social media accounts, and emailing safe “spoilers” to your subscribers.
Bottom line: don’t let your subscribers get bored. If they do, it’s on you.
One tip that can’t go unmentioned: fulfillment is key to the success of your subscription box business. Whatever kind of unboxing experience you want to create, our custom kitting services team can make it happen. Learn more about our services.