Fostering customer loyalty is about so much more than just the pre-purchase experience. The customer journey doesn’t end when they part with their money—and in ecommerce, the fulfillment process is critical to their impression of your brand.
In this post, we’ll highlight three ways to boost customer loyalty through smart fulfillment strategies.
The importance of customer loyalty
It’s pretty obvious that loyal customers spend more with your business. They tend to have a higher average order value (AOV), and they’ll be receptive to upselling and cross-selling because they trust your brand to deliver value. Therefore it is important to encourage customer retention.
Since it’s easier to sell to existing customers, increased loyalty helps you reduce acquisition and marketing costs. Loyal customers also become brand advocates, who sing your praises to friends and family and leave good reviews online. They can also give you valuable feedback and ideas.
How does fulfilment affect loyalty?
Techniques like personalization and a robust customer service platform are great ways to encourage loyalty, but fulfillment is equally important. In fact, 85% of shoppers are unlikely to give retailers a second chance after a poor delivery experience.
Fulfillment covers all the processes that take place after a customer clicks “Buy Now”, including picking, packing, transportation, delivery, and returns. Although there’s plenty of scope for error, there’s also lots of potential for getting things right and delighting customers.
For example, customers want to see a wide variety of delivery options, especially free delivery. If you can ensure that they have a choice of prices and timings, and that you always deliver on time, there’s far more chance of them using your services again.
A smooth returns process also helps to improve loyalty, especially when customers are buying online. You can ensure both delivery and returns are customer-friendly with the right ecommerce inventory management software.
3 ways to boost loyalty with fulfilment
Real-time delivery updates
As well as an order confirmation immediately after purchase, customers expect regular updates on delivery. This reassures them that the package is on its way, which is especially important if they’ve ordered it for a particular occasion. It also allows them to plan their day based on the specified arrival time, rather than waiting around on the off-chance that it might turn up.
You may not be able to pinpoint the exact second when a delivery will reach the front door, but with smart planning and GPS, you can get pretty close. If you hand over last-mile communication to the delivery driver, they can advise the customer of heavy traffic in the area or ask for help in locating the address.
Find out how customers prefer to receive updates, and allow them to track the parcel themselves with a free parcel tracking tool. That way, they won’t have to contact your customer support team to find out where their order is.
As long as the information is accurate and transparent, you can develop trust in your brand and build excitement about the order. To be able to supply this, you’ll need good communication with suppliers and shipping carriers, so that you can communicate any delays as soon as possible.
With robust inventory and warehouse management, it’s less likely that customers will experience delays or damaged items. If there is a problem, apologize and offer a replacement, a free gift, or a future discount to improve their opinion of your brand.
Reward your VIPs
VIP customers are putting more money your way, so it’s only fair that you reward them! We’re talking about members of your loyalty program, subscribers, and customers with a high lifetime value, all of whom should be nurtured and given extra-special service.
As well as converting points to dollars, unlocking special offers, and gaining early access to sales, you can offer fulfillment-related rewards in your loyalty program. You could offer expedited shipping at a favorable price, an accelerated checkout process, or a free gift with a larger purchase.
Unboxing is an important part of the ecommerce experience, so consider upgraded packaging and adding custom thank-you notes for your VIPs. 83% of consumers expect personalized content and experiences from their favorite brands, and it’s definitely a factor in continued loyalty.
All of these ideas help to improve your brand reputation and encourage further loyalty. The VIPs will want to stick around, while other customers will realize the perks.
Accurate stock information
It’s important to manage customer expectations and not promise something you can’t deliver. Shoppers won’t be happy if they attempt to purchase their desired item only to find it’s sold out—or worse, pay for it, and then receive a message saying it’s no longer available.
If something’s out of stock, clearly label it as such on the website and enable customers to request an email when it’s back, or place a backorder. A cloud inventory software will ensure your stock list is always up to date, while a built-in POS system helps you give the correct information to customers.
In physical stores, a POS synced with your retail operations platform enables staff to instantly check availability, take backorders, or fulfill from another location. The best systems can also process returns and exchanges, access customer details, and get people signed up to the loyalty program. The convenience helps customers to build a positive opinion.
With a good understanding of your inventory, you’ll also be able to see which items are selling well and which could use a little push. You could then use surplus products as free gifts (for VIPs, or with a certain level of spend), or hold a flash sale.
Nurturing customer loyalty is a constant task, involving every aspect of ecommerce. But if you can nail your fulfillment process, you’ll improve customer satisfaction—and ensure that shoppers want to return to your brand.
Evaluate your fulfillment strategy for any issues or bottlenecks, and look for ways to improve the customer experience. Keep them updated with accurate information, personalize the experience where possible, and encourage feedback. Remember, 21% of consumers have left a favored brand because they didn’t feel valued.