Is the Future of eCommerce Shifting into Reverse?
by Tony Collier
Retail companies are beginning to implement and release their 2019 strategies based on what they learned from the 2018 holiday season. The predictions and visions can be summarized as digital, innovative, mobile, and personalized with AR/VR/AI.
The future of a personalized, tailored shopping experience will be determined by the results of the online battle of store to door (digital and physical). The final frontier of the retailer battle is the race to deliver products to consumers’ doors. Walmart has drive-thrus, Whole Foods delivers, and everything in between can be done by a drone or robot. The last mile of the shopping journey is expanding in importance, which is clear as Amazon now has its own delivery. Retail requires a shift in focus and investment on the first mile experience, innovation and digital strategy with a round trip customer journey at the center of their planning.
Your most valuable customers are those who have purchased a product already.
Returns and exchange support is added to the footer of a webpage or in the back of a store, below the fold and beyond the cheerful staff welcoming you. When customers need to return items, they shouldn’t need to explain or answer what happened or what went wrong—20 questions can be answered with a seamless process. If the return is harder than the purchase or requires paying more to get the customer’s money back, you risk losing that valuable customer forever.
Weaving innovation and digital technology into the fabric of your company can boost your revenue from the bottom up. Engage shoppers through all channels and points of entry and keep service front of mind, beyond the transaction and delivery.
Empowering shoppers to return items without complex logistics hurdles and paper-trail receipts leverages the data and analytics that’s been captured before. Remove the barriers and inquiries of how their purchase failed and help them without holding their money captive. All of the delivery and purchase options available can drive sales and revenue, inspiring customers to come back to you.
From a consumer point of view, the return policy drives the purchase, and free shipping is the expectation, no longer the differentiator of ecommerce success. Tracking, speed and flexibility are factors in the race, but the mobile shopper demands those options.
In all of the predictions and questions about the future of retail and the evolution of the mobile consumer, making the connection from digital to physical a seamless experience is the answer.