Navigating Changing Consumers Habits with Order Management
Consumer habits have seen radical change over the past two years thanks to the pandemic and now they are in a state of flux again as the cost of living crisis bites. So how can you best operate in this dynamic environment? Jonathan Maurer offers some order management tips.
The past couple of years have transformed consumer behaviours. Whether they are comparing prices across different sites, managing pick-up for an item they would like to purchase or arranging delivery for a purchase, consumers have started to take advantage of online platforms more than ever before.
According to a study conducted by Google, it is evident that the online shopping habit of consumers is here to stay. In the fashion sector alone, 57% of shoppers expect to shop online in the next six months.
What’s more, a range of popular retail giants have already started to leverage these advanced systems to enhance the omnichannel experience for consumers.
Consumers are now turning to a blended approach towards purchasing – some prefer reviewing the product online and then buying in-person, or buying online and picking up in-store, whereas others are comfortable with carrying out their transactions completely digitally. As consumer demands continue to evolve with technology, retailers must utilise next-generation order management to fulfil consumer requirements and avoid any potential pain points throughout the customer journey.
The recent surge in the cost of living will only make consumers more fastidious about their purchasing decisions. In what has become a difficult time for many consumers, retailers must continue to cater towards consumer habits and preferences to personalise and provide the desired experience. Whether it’s with faster returns or a more seamless shopping experience in general – optimising order management can enhance the customer experience. In an era where consumers have become quite selective about their purchases, a high quality customer experience can serve to be a powerful tool for retailers to retain customers.
Simplifying order management
E-commerce has been growing for years, but the market has undergone further exponential growth specifically since the pandemic. Although through their own ecommerce platforms, retailers initially gained a surge in sales, it isn’t enough in today’s cut-throat competition just to have a standard website and app. Retailers need to ensure that their services on these applications are simple, swift, and systematic. A lack of efficient order management can cause delay in delivery or even stockouts – resulting in a bad consumer experience. The question remains how can retailers avoid these?
This is where the role of technology comes into play – brands can leverage order management systems (OMS) to automate the entire process. OMS can be directly connected to a retailer’s e-commerce platform for automatic shipment generation, with an allocated location. All this is made possible by the use of real-time data that not only saves time, but significantly boosts accuracy – creating a much more efficient workflow than if the task was to be undertaken manually.
To bridge any gaps and maintain accuracy within the entire selling process, it is essential to keep track of different areas such as point of sale (POS), customer relationship management (CRM), order and inventory management, and analytics. Typically, each of these processes will operate independently from each other. Without complete integration of each platform into one ecosystem, retailers run the risk creating friction along each stage of the customer journey and hindering the customer experience.
Today, retailers can take advantage of advanced platforms that allow the integration of multiple processes in one place. Through this integration, order fulfilment can be simplified and made more efficient. What’s more, the single pane view through these platforms can strengthen a retailer’s offering across the entire customer journey, provide real time insights across all areas and enable quicker and more effective decision making.
Boosting customer loyalty
In an ideal world, retailers would have a minimal number of returns to process and manage. However, returns are an inevitable part of modern consumers’ purchasing habits. According to a survey of 18,520 consumers from more than 20 countries, 55% of consumers believe that an easy shopping experience (check out and returns) plays a vital role in keeping them loyal to the brand.
Consumers expect a seamless experience during the returns process, just as they expect when purchasing items. Faster returns with a variety of options, such as quicker refunds or online exchanges, have now become table stakes. And consumers who have had a poor experience during returns with a retailer are less likely to shop with the brand again.
Implementation of the right technology to make returns as efficient as possible is key to winning consumer trust. Modern platforms allow faster returns and automatically process refunds to consumers regardless of the channel used for purchasing. Brands can also leverage next-gen software to generate pre-approved return codes that allow consumers to return or exchange with minimal efforts.
Gearing up for the peak
An essential factor for brands to keep in mind is that by utilising the right retail software that provides an all-in-one solution, retailers can simplify their entire operation and create a much more streamlined experience for both the user, and more importantly, the customer.
As we step into the second half of 2022, and begin the countdown to the festive season, retailers can stay prepared to make most of upcoming key dates later this year by implementing advanced technologies that automate and streamline their operations. Furthermore, insights gained now from these technologies can also enable retailers to make effective decisions during shopping days such as Black Friday and Boxing Day to ensure maximum returns for retail’s most opportune time of year.
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