Our Parcel Perform team Dana, Dennis and Matt have just returned from IRCE 2019; one of the biggest and most influential e-commerce conferences in the world. It was a fruitful experience speaking to both our customers and retailers in the US, the largest e-commerce market in the world alongside China.
E-commerce in the US is a tremendous opportunity; with retail e-commerce sales slated to surpass 735 million US dollars in 2023. More than half of all retail sales in 2018 was made through e-commerce channels, signaling a huge shift towards online shopping. In this article, we, share some of our key takeaways and observations from our conversations with e-commerce retailers from IRCE.
1. Lauren Freedman: “Compete with Amazon by being different”.
No e-commerce conversation in the U.S would be complete without mentioning the Amazon advantage. At first, they seem overwhelming. How do you compete with a company that offers extremely competitive pricing and a stellar delivery game?
The answer from Lauren Freedman, senior consumer insights analyst for DigitalCommerce360/Internet Retailer: You don’t.
Even if your products are listed on Amazon or other marketplaces (which is great for product discovery and marketing), you can always find ways to compete on your own terms. Consumers will always care about pricing, product selection and fast delivery – three factors Amazon excels at. However, Amazon as a marketplace covers a wide breadth of products without a distinctive story behind each product.
If you have unique expertise, exclusive product, a sustainability focus or an interesting community behind your brand – make it your strength. Think about the indie shops that you’d rather shop at instead of a huge departmental store and create the same experience online.
List exclusive products on your website or run exclusive promotions for your direct customers. We particularly love these niche products: Inkbox who sells custom temporary tattoos, Bicyclesonline that sells bike parts and accessories for the bike enthusiast or We Are Knitters that has everything you need for your next knitting party.
2. Retailers need to own the post-purchase customer experience to grow their business in 2019
Improving the customer experience is one of the top priorities for retailers in the next five years.
In our conversations with retailers at IRCE, we observed that retailers relied on a mix of their own logistics and multiple 3PLs to carry out their logistics fulfillment processes. However, this approach subsumes control over a major factor of customer retention to an external party.
Consider these statistics:
- Up to 90% of U.S. online shoppers will take some type of action that can hurt a retailer’s brand (talking about their negative experience on social media or with friends and family).
- 36% say they would shop somewhere else after just one poor experience.
- 30% of millennials go public about their negative experience by complaining in an online review or social media post
With consumers stating clear, accurate tracking is an important consideration for their purchases, getting full control over the post-purchase experience with branded, proactive updates hence puts your business at an advantage.
Selling what your customers want and emailing them the receipt is a great first step, but making the experience standardized even as you’re using multiple 3PLs will build a more consistent and reliable customer experience. In fact, data from PwC show that when customers have a great experience, they’re willing to pay up to a 16% price premium.
3. Making delivery smarter, more intuitive, more predictive
Retailers at IRCE also spoke about how they believed managing the post-purchase experience should be more intuitive, smarter and more predictive. With logistics taking up a huge chunk of costs in e-commerce retail, retailers are looking for ways to make delivery more efficient and more customer-centric with flexible rerouting options, alternative delivery locations and pick-up options, and easy returns processes.
We already see a plethora of delivery options available from parcel lockers, deliver-to-neighbor, rerouting options, etc – all aimed at improving the delivery success rate and delighting customers. With the right logistics data, you’ll be able to understand consumer trends and preferences to build your very own customer experience that would keep your consumers coming back for more.
Contrary to popular belief, optimizing your post-purchase customer experience and e-commerce logistics is neither expensive nor time-consuming.
- Make use of the logistics data you already have to make smarter, data-driven decisions in carrier management
- Tap on technology providers like Parcel Perform to help you understand what happens in your supply chain, update your customers and team operations
- Look into your logistics data to predict future trends and customer preferences
Want more insights from the events our team attends?
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Joshua is the Marketing Manager at Parcel Perform. He loves technology and a good book. Outside of e-commerce and Parcel Perform, you can find him in the kitchen, gym or yoga studio.