technology

Top tips for unified order fulfilment

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I recently joined Triquestra as a business analyst after spending four years with a shipping automation software company.

As we’re all seeing, the ability to give shoppers a range of pick-up and delivery options is now a big part of a successful customer experience, and I wanted to share my top tips for a good fulfilment strategy. You need to start at the beginning to keep customers happy through to the very end of their sales transaction.


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1: STOCK: Inform your customers about stock levels  

How disappointed would you be if you discovered that the pair of shoes you badly needed for your race this weekend couldn’t be delivered for three weeks because the stock was unavailable?

Set your customer expectations by providing accurate stock levels on your website during the browsing process so they can see right away what’s available and what has to be ordered.


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2: SHIPPING COSTS: Be sure you’re getting the best rate

Shipping can be complicated, with costs varying according to the destination, the weight and the size of the packages you need to deliver. You want to make sure that you are using the best courier in every situation: Who’s best for international packages, is it the same company for national and bulky packages, what about deliveries in the same city?

To choose the best couriers for yourself and your customers, define simple rules within your retail system to select a carrier according to the weight or destination of the package. Or integrate a shipping platform that can determine the best carrier automatically.

Another solution is to let your customers select the best option by listing all your courier services and their prices during the checkout process. Then your customer can decide between the cheapest service or choose to pay extra for premium or express service. We know some customers value convenience over price.


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3: FULFILMENT SPEED: Don’t let an order backlog grow

Ensure you are using the best processes and tools to run your dispatch centre. Packing slips and a barcode scanner are a must, and you also need to test your operation to make sure it matches the volume of orders you need to fulfil.

Consider fulfilling orders from your stores to reduce shipping costs and allow your customers pick up their orders themselves.


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4: COMMUNICATION: Keep your customers in the loop

Make sure you inform and update your customers about their deliveries.

  • Send proactive delivery information by text or email at every stage.

  • Let customers track their orders through your website, instead of a courier company’s website. Then customers will have constant contact with your brand and can see details of their purchase as well as its delivery journey.


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5: RETURNS: Offer returns to win customer trust

Most major online retailers offer free returns. While returns are often seen as an additional expense, they can actually drive revenue, increase profit, improve customer experience and boost your brand’s reputation. Please see our recent article on why returns should be part of your customer experience strategy.


Infinity partners with fulfilment platforms such as Temando and Shippit and can help you build a fulfilment strategy that offers customers many options while reducing your inventory holdings and delivery costs. Contact us to find out more.

Here’s how unified commerce really comes to life

Here’s how unified commerce really comes to life

We’re very proud of how Infinity supports Cue Clothing’s ‘buy anywhere, fulfil anywhere’ strategy and the partnership we’ve built over the last 11 years.

Why returns should be part of your customer experience strategy

Why returns should be part of your customer experience strategy

New ‘try before you buy’ (TBYB) services are fuelling a surge in product returns that could overwhelm retailers. Here we look at what’s driving the TBYB trend, the challenges it creates and why the growth in returns is actually good for retail.

How to put a smart click-and-collect strategy in place

Click-and-collect is changing the way consumers shop and interact with retailers.

With a click-and-collect strategy, you can provide near instant gratification: customers order and pay for items online, then collect them in store, merging the in-store experience with online convenience.

The benefits for retailers

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There is growing competition from big brand and overseas competitors, such as Amazon, who are able to offer free delivery on minimum spends and relatively short delivery times. To maintain your competitive advantage, you want to respond with a mutually beneficial online sales strategy, like click-and-collect. Click-and-collect secures the sale and even increases sales. According to the International Council of Shopping Centres, over 60% of shoppers who use click-and-collect services go on to purchase additional goods when collecting their items. Click-and-collect also minimises returns, as customers are able to try on goods before they finalise their purchase.

For consumers, convenience is key

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With click-and-collect, customers are not charged delivery fees and can avoid the delivery-card-in-the-mailbox scenario. Additionally, customers are not risking a trip to the store, only to find the items they want are out of stock. And items can be collected when it’s convenient for the customer – often within hours of placing an order – providing an immediacy that delivery cannot meet. Better still, if the item is not suitable, any issues can be resolved before the customer leaves the store.

Getting your full click-and-collect strategy ready for launch

 

For click-and-collect to be effective, you want to make sure all your systems are working together to offer customers an easy, reliable and seamless experience.


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Inventory available on-the-go

Make sure that your mobile site and app are up-to-date and give consumers access to all your inventory wherever they are. Highlight items available for click-and-collect prior to checkout. Also given that a click-and-collect strategy is a shift towards customer convenience – with less emphasis on price – consider offering free click-and-collect.


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Make it quick

Consider a time commitment that you can stick to. For instance, tell customers they can pick up their order on the same day until you can be confident in your processes, and then aim for 30 minutes.


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Keep in touch

Send text message alerts to customers to let them know the status of their order and more importantly, when it is ready for collection. You’ll keep the customer up-to-date on their order and get them into the store at the right time. When customers do come to collect their goods, items should be ready. You may also want to consider dedicated pick up points in-store or alternative collection points.


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Returns should be hassle free

Customers should have the option to change their mind before leaving the store and be able to return click-and-collect items in-store.


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Turn your stores into disciplined distribution centres

Fulfil orders from your stores to get items to customers faster and save on delivery costs. With the right technology in place, you can be sure of great customer experiences as well. For example, you can set up your system to alert head office if an online order goes to a store and that order isn’t acknowledged by the store and ready to be picked up by the customer within a certain timeframe. Head office can then contact the store to prompt staff. These kind of alerts lead to a robust, timely process that keeps customers happy.


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Incentivise multiple teams

To help in-store staff see the benefit of online sales, create remuneration strategies that reward store staff who are picking and packing the items for online orders. A unified commerce platform can offer sales attribution reporting in addition to reporting on sales channel effectiveness.


When you give customers what they want, they are less likely to shop elsewhere

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In short, to remain competitive you need to give your customers options. Offering click-and-collect is one option and makes you different to those retailers offering online shopping only. Click-and-collect will encourage more customers into your stores, giving you shorter sale times, alternative ways to interact and further opportunities to upsell.


If you’d like help with your click-and-collect strategy and unifying your customers’ experience, contact us.

New video series discusses technical aspects of APIs

Mike Baxter, head of Infinity product, shares his thoughts on using APIs for retail so you can get new products and services to market faster and improve customer experience. In this first video, Mike discusses the advantages of microservices for APIs and why this design pattern isn’t the only one to consider when you want to innovate quickly.



Five things to look for in a retail technology partner

If the beginning of the year means it’s time to re-evaluate your retail systems, start here.

No matter the scale of what you want to accomplish – boosting POS functionality, getting a single view of inventory, or starting your unified commerce journey to connect POS, inventory, fulfilment, order and customer data – you need a partner with the right people, processes and technology. A partner who understands retail’s demands and can give you the system that will improve customer happiness, staff satisfaction and your bottom line.

Here are important indicators of a good technology partner plus questions to ask

1

Maturity and market responsiveness

Look for a partner who’s been around retail for a while, with a sound platform, business model and proposition. They’ll need to understand your fast-paced, data-intensive environment where any significant level of downtime is unacceptable.

Their people will have the capability to help you plan and implement your projects so they suit you right now and into the future. When you choose a partner with a mature platform, they can focus on delivering innovation because the core functionality you need already exists.

2

Customer experience

Make sure your partner has a recent and proven success record for planning, implementing and managing complex, large-scale deployments across multiple stores, multiple formats and multiple geographies.

Do they have stable and well-tested strategies and technology or are they just adapting existing supply chain and fulfilment models? Ask if they’ve worked with related technology, systems and service providers. And how their capability integrates with eCommerce, payments, supply chain and finance software.

Request case studies or references and ask about the consultancy, customisation, deployment, training and support services they provide.

3

An agile and innovative mindset

You want a partner who’s got the people and processes to move fast, while cultivating an environment where innovation flourishes. They should use agile methodologies and have experience working with agile retailers.

Get evidence of their history of responsiveness and their ability to assess and quickly correct any unforeseen issues. Ask how they’ve managed things for a client when faced with unexpected changes, a competitor’s action or customer demands.

4

Broad product capability

Choose a partner that can give you a broad and holistic portfolio, perspective and experience. One that gives you all your core requirements out-of-the-box plus the ability to customise and easily add new functionality.

For the best customer experience, you need to intrinsically link inventory, fulfilment, orders, supply chain and planning. You don’t want to be tied to a point player that can only provide portions.

Your partner should let third parties connect to their technology via APIs and cultivate a community with those parties so you can give customers more shopping, payment and fulfilment options.

You also need to know that your partner has a strategic roadmap and investment committed for new capabilities.

5

Best of local, best of global

Look for a partner that’s an Australasian business, focused on our region’s potential to succeed. A local partner means you can have more influence on the product roadmap and enjoy direct engagement with people on the ground who are committed to your success (and not distracted by offshore business activity). And a mid-size partner is more likely to view you as an important customer of influence. It’s far better to be a big fish in a small pond (and not have to fight for attention as a small fish in a big pond would).


If you’d like a benchmark to rate your current or potential technology partner against, contact us. For more than 23 years, Infinity has been dedicated to the development, implementation and support of retail systems. We’re renowned for being both pioneering and reliable. You can count on us for consulting, platform implementation, integration, training and support that helps you get great results.

Becoming an agile retailer: Why you need both agility and stability to innovate

Becoming an agile retailer: Why you need both agility and stability to innovate

Building your business case for agile working? According to McKinsey, the best approach is to build a stable foundation of things that don’t change, to free you up for speed in other areas. Here’s how to  create that stable core for reliability and efficiency, while introducing more dynamic elements that let you respond nimbly and quickly to new challenges and opportunities.

4 reasons retailers should adopt agile

4 reasons retailers should adopt agile

With constantly changing customer behaviours and expectations, and employee demands for more flexible and connected workplaces, it’s critical to become more agile to respond to digital challenges. This series explains how agile development helps retailers deliver products faster and better. We’re kicking it off with a look at why you need to think and act agile.