Improving quality of service to remain competitive

How to make life easier for consumers in order to live up to their expectations? At a time when the distance selling market leaders set the rules, it is high time for retailers, whatever their size, to get a grasp of the subject.

OVERVIEW

Rising expectations

According to a study by the Ifop (the French Institution of Public Opinion), more than half of French consumers believe that delivery within 24 hours is the ideal time frame. This means that retail customers are currently demanding to the point of changing retailer if the service does not meet their expectations. Thus, 66% of consumers1 declare their readiness to abandon a shopping cart on an e-commerce site that does not offer them the delivery option adapted to their needs. This statistic gives some idea of the challenge for retailers: improving the quality of service is now a question of revenue – if not survival in the face of fierce competition.

Indeed, the distance selling market leaders (such as Amazon) have set new rules regarding the quality of service. A wide choice of pickup points, next-day-delivery, even delivery in two hours, appointment delivery, real-time tracking information, a reactive call centre with extended opening hours... The e-commerce giants have integrated these new standards that consumers now expect from all retailers, without exception. However, the gap between these expectations and the actual offer from retailers is currently huge. For example, while 75% of consumers wish to have delivery by appointment, only 30% of e-retailers offer this option2.

TAKING UP THE CHALLENGE

Choices and partners

But how to meet these expectations without skyrocketing logistical costs and drastically reducing margins? Part of the answer lies in developing partnerships. In france, for example, this is the case of Showroom Privé, Camaïeu and Wanimo, among others. Each of these online retailers has forged an alliance with Dispeo, a former subsidiary of 3SI to outsource their logistics to professionals from the world of distance selling. Thanks to this partnership with an independent player, these brands, which do not yet have a consistent logistical infrastructure, offer consumers all the expected delivery options, to the same level as the leaders in the sector.

The other part of the answer is to look at information provided to customers. Knowing that 82% of consumers track their delivery at least twice after ordering1, it becomes essential to provide reliable and up-to-date information. For example, the call centre – whose opening hours must be extended to meet customer needs – is now obliged to provide accurate information on delivery status, payment incidents, etc.

Similarly, on payments and returns, the experience must be completely smooth and transparent for customers: when will they be refunded? Where should they leave their return package? Who can they contact in case of a problem? The information must be clear and easy to find on the retailer’s website. For example, Amazon France has set up a “trust return” service with the refund for returned items being made within two hours of the parcel being deposited at the post office. A good way to streamline the experience with the brand and to turn dissatisfaction into an asset for building customer loyalty.

Achieving this quality of information and service requires a seemingly complicated computing mechanism: it involves creating links between various applications, from logistics to customer service via the website and the payment interface. To achieve this, relatively simple solutions can be put in place: • an Order Management System (OMS) provides visibility and transparency on all orders. From stock management to dispatch, all information is centralised in this “control tower”. In addition, in the case of partnerships, the OMS makes it possible to share information among the various stakeholders. • an operational and shared customer base provides a 360-degree view of customer information. Thus, all sales channels must have the same level of information with, for example, in-store sales staff now able to know the status of a web order.

#Expert Voice

A challenge for quality of service

“If the giants of e-commerce have understood the importance of improving quality of service, the 100,000 French e-merchants still seem to  have a long way to go. These companies have not yet realised that this is a matter of survival.”
Pierre Gressier, Head of Distribution & Services Sector, Gfi Informatique.

#Gfi Solution

The Order Management System and the 360° Customer Repository

Based on IBM technology, the Gfi Informatique OMS integrates with all retailers’ information systems to manage logistics and stock. As for the client repository, it centralises the management of payments, deliveries, etc, so that the customer service in particular has all the information relating to the orders in real time.

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