Ten vacation buying groceries ache issues for customers
Now that we’re in the throws of the holiday shopping (and shipping) season, odds are that even with all of the preparations you’ve made, your customers may be hitting barriers to a successful cyber shopping experience, aka pain points. Though it’s too late now to make changes for the this shopping season, it is the perfect time to start planning what you’ll do differently in the next year and beyond.
These are a few of the pain points consumers typically experience during the holiday shopping season.
- Item not carried. If you don’t have a product, you run the risk of your customer going somewhere else and not coming back. That’s a sourcing issue, usually related to not having enough suppliers with the product range you need. Access to a trading partner network can help you to find new and additional suppliers for next year.
- Light on details. You can never have too much information about your products, including sizes, colors, measurements, capabilities, benefits, and features. Even photos of the product are necessary. People want to know exactly what they’re buying and feel confident that they’re going to get the item they’re ordering. This also reduces returns due to ordering errors and mistakes.
- Out-of-stocks and inventory accuracy issues. Everyone has either experienced it themselves, or know someone who has: Getting an email saying the retailer is out of stock of whatever you ordered three days before Christmas. Nothing will enrage a customer quite like telling them their purchase will arrive too late. They’ll find someone who has the item, and then cancel your order. You can avoid this dissatisfaction with up-to-date inventory counts, as well as working with vendors to regularly update inventory details and integrate it with your systems.
- Lack of communication about orders. Customers have questions before they order, they want to know the delivery status and they need to learn more about how the product works. If they have questions before they buy, complete item data can be a big help. Once they place the order, customer service should be able to answer shipping status questions, find tracking numbers and help with the product specs, whether it’s via phone, chat, email or social media. Sharing item and order information with customer service will help solve this.
- Wrong item shipped. First, retailers must investigate the source of the error. Are these product description inaccuracies? Item master errors? Warehouse issues? If there’s a product description mismatch between the website and the product, it’s a problem with the coding and should be corrected. If it’s an EDI issue, maybe the documentation didn’t arrive on time. Or the warehouse had the product bin in the wrong spot, so the picker grabbed the wrong item and didn’t pay attention to the item information. With improved data sharing, documentation sharing, and even order fulfillment accuracy, you can significantly reduce or eliminate these errors.
- Lengthy delivery times. How long does it take to fulfill your orders? Are you able to scale to keep up with a large influx of holiday orders? Can you reduce the time you need for picking and packing? If you can save time in-house with faster order processing and fulfillment, even if the carrier is late, it’s less damaging. Walmart has a 4-hour order arrival time, meaning orders are ready to ship within four hours of receipt. And UPS hired 90,000 seasonal workers because they’re expecting more packages than ever. How did you prepare?
- On-time shipping. Holidays are time sensitive, so on-time order fulfillment is crucial. Have a couple different shipping options for people to try, and spell out explicitly what the shipping policy is. It should say something like “Shipping times as quoted for normal business processes, but during holidays there may be an influx of orders. Please make sure you order early enough to avoid delays.” If you spell it out in the website first, customers are more likely to forgive you if you run into unexpected shipping delays.
- Goods arriving damaged. It might be a packaging issue, it might be a carrier issue or a manufacturing defect. Look at your process, and get information from the customer about how the shipment was damaged. Was it sufficiently padded or was it packed incorrectly? Is the carrier at fault? Knowing this can help ensure your next order arrives in one piece, undamaged. Was it a carrier problem? You may likely want to replace the product for the consumer and then deal with the carrier for reimbursement. Placing the consumer need first is critical to creating loyalty and goodwill, so it may even be a good idea to address through a company-wide policy.
- Items not arriving at all. Where did the breakdown occur? Was there something wrong with the address? Was the address label printed incorrectly? Did picker forget an item? Was there a carrier issue? Examine your process closely, because you want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. If a product didn’t arrive, replace it quickly to satisfy the customer, even if the carrier lost it.
- Insufficient return/refund process. Be sure to spell everything out in-store or via your digital channels, and especially within the shipping documentation included with the delivery. If you can be clear about your return policies, customers are more likely to follow your established process and avoid a lot of frustration.
Most of these holiday shopping pain points can happen year round, but they are particularly painful at this time of year. Though now might not be the time to make technology changes, it is the time to think to the future and how next year’s holiday season could be less painful both for you and your customers.
If you are a retailer experiencing these issues, or any others, EDI Here can help you make the shopping process seamless for your customers. Please contact EDI or request a demonstration of our different supply chain solutions.