Customer-Centric Retailing – The Double Impact of Omnichannel & E-Commerce

Customer-Centric Retailing - The Double Impact of Omnichannel & E-Commerce

To Deliver on Promises

Customers these days expect to order their chosen products from any device and receive them at a convenient time and place, and that’s what made retailing an even more complex business. In order to keep up with customers’ expectations, retailers require technologically-robust systems for handling packages, picking the right carrier, ensuring compliance and keeping track of orders.

There have been numerous stories of frustrating failures of online order deliveries. With the increasing instances of failures, the number of dissatisfied consumers also goes up. This issue became even more evident in the recent past during holiday seasons in India when large volumes of online orders overwhelmed several delivery services. Delivery failures resulted in thousands of irate customers, cancelled orders, and dented reputation of the retailers.

Considering the fast-changing digital retailing industry, delivery has become even more essential to the bottom line of a business. This rising importance is now affecting customers’ pre-purchase decisions just as much as repeat sales.

A recent research by Accenture shows that 66 percent consumers have chosen eTailers based on the available and convenient delivery options. In fact, dissatisfaction with delivery options causes 68 percent of instances where customers abandon their shopping carts before submitting orders. Alarming enough for retailers!

The Accenture research comprising more than 1,000 eTailers across 10 countries reveals how the digital platform is blurring the boundaries between marketplaces, online retailing, and delivery providers. This changing landscape brings up both new opportunities to widen the horizon and threats to reluctant marketers in the form of digital disruptions. Now adapting and evolving with the changing time is the only way to future growth.

An Insight into Omnichannel Fulfilment

Omnichannel fulfilment is much more than just getting orders to consumers. It enables retailers to fulfil orders through their manufacturing sites, distribution centres, warehouses or stores. On top of it, omnichannel also enables consumers to make online purchases and pick them up in a store. The whole fulfilment process provides a seamless consumer experience by using the best sources for inventory, regardless of its location, to meet a customer’s needs. In this context, data plays a crucial role in the fulfilment process along with the software that helps managing the data.

Advanced shipping software solutions that can connect with multiple carriers enable vendors to meet customer expectations across various geographic locations. In addition, tracking solutions, electronic proof of delivery, and parcel lockers can equip retailers to optimize their supply chain operations. Here choosing the right provider is pivotal and the incorporated systems should be in line with a retail company’s long-term business strategy. It’s still too early to predict the future of omnichannel, however, it will surely be the key to higher operational efficiency and a better customer experience.

Currently, retailers are focusing on enabling fulfilment from any part of the supply chain. They, however, need to have systems for better management. Simply put, in addition to enabling customers to buy from anywhere, retailers should be able to supply from any retail channel. As stated earlier, it is both an opportunity and a challenge. Seeing the opportunity, various retail players are getting involved in the omnichannel business. Brick-and-mortar stores, for example, are gradually switching over to an e-commerce platform, and offering this facility to customers besides walking into a store and making purchases. Omnichannel fulfilment gives buyers what they seek, how they want it and where.

How E-commerce can play a crucial role in Omnichannel Fulfilment

The phenomenal growth of the e-commerce industry has brought about drastic change in the fulfilment business and made the overall retail industry reach the inflection point. Retailers are now trying hard to make fulfilment directly to customers, and getting parcels to them as fast as possible. Fulfilment in quick turnaround time will provide impetus to retail businesses, get past breakeven, and generate more revenues. Traditionally, fulfilment focuses on bulk movement, in a retail environment. E-commerce has changed it all. Now, instead of a store, bulk merchandise is broken down in smaller quantities in the supply chain itself. This means that products can be delivered from a retailer or distributor as well as directly from the manufacturer.

Integration with e-commerce makes omnichannel fulfilment easier in all the following aspects:
Pre-purchase – Before making buying decisions, customers can access retailers through digital channels including smartphones, desktops, laptops, and tablets.
Purchase & Delivery – Consumers get to know the purchase and delivery options upfront including the shipping cost. Higher shipping cost leads to increase in cart abandonment.
Returning Products – Convenient return policies are a key in creating a positive online shopping experience regardless of the fact that consumer behaviour varies from one country to another. In one of recent studies, more than 50 percent respondents said they are likely to shop more with a brand if it has a hassle-free return policy.

Consumers all over the world have different retailer access preferences. Online shoppers in the following countries prefer accessing retailers using a digital channel:
Europe – 79 percent, Asia – 79 percent , Mexico – 77 percent
On the other hand, countries like Belgium (61 percent) and The Netherlands (71 percent) are less likely to access retailers using these channels than other European nations.

Parcel Lockers: The Way to Streamline Shopping and Shipping

Omnichannel retailing is constantly changing, where customers are seeking the flexibility to get fulfilment from anywhere. Click & Collect or parcel lockers can be a good example of these changing preferences. These lockers enable online shoppers save a lot of time and hassle by getting their parcels delivered to the automated parcel terminals placed in convenient locations such as metro stations, office premises, community buildings or shopping malls. Consumers can easily access their designated lockers by using a one-time-password sent to their mobile or email. The whole process is simple, and it also allows shoppers to return purchases made online. By incorporating such delivery strategies omnichannel retailers can reach out to their customers even better as they they’ll get their parcels faster and without having to pay anything extra.

A retail survey data by PwC reveals that Indian consumers buy online mainly because of convenience (65 percent) and price (31 percent). Various categories of products such as furniture, jewellery, and grocery are getting increasingly popular among e-shoppers. In addition, customers are also seeking service-focussed in-store experience by interacting with knowledgeable store employees. The traditional parcel delivery system finds it challenging as recipients are scattered from small towns to metros. Many customers aren’t home during the day and their parcels are taken back by the courier service before making re-attempts. It adds up significant costs and wastes time.

Parcel lockers are a safe and effective solution to weed out the mentioned delivery challenges. These automated lockers securely store packages for easy collection by consumers. They can surely take the customer experience to the next level and at the same time reduce the potential risk for lost packages, re-delivery attempts, and theft.

To learn more about incorporating parcel lockers as part of your retail supply chain, you can browse our website – Smartbox has launched India’s first network of Automated Parcel Delivery Terminals. We are helping out major retail players and e-commerce sites to streamline their delivery process by installing parcel lockers. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at 8882-760-760 and we will be glad to assist you.


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