From item selections to the returns process, the entire shopping experience as we have known it has changed. 2020’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales officially broke all records for e-commerce shopping, and as more consumers adapt and embrace the ease of online shopping, these numbers are forecasted to have accelerated ahead roughly five years.
In a post-pandemic world, these shifts to accommodate ever-growing e-commerce sales, supply chain interruptions, and rising cost of doing business will continue to evolve with no end in sight. So how are retailers expected to keep up and embrace what’s now looking like the “new normal”?
Upgrading the Overall User Experience
If there’s one thing consumers know in a post-pandemic world, it’s that the user experience is key to brand loyalty. This extends throughout the entire shopping experience — from online ordering to order confirmation and tracking transparency, and from last-mile delivery through the returns process.
- The customer expects to be kept in the know post-purchase, with immediate tracking capabilities that let them know when they can expect their package to arrive.
- They expect to be offered same-day or next-day delivery options, including curbside or Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS) options.
- If a return needs to be made, it should be done at the convenience of the customer — whether that be returned in-store with minimal customer service wait times, picked up for return delivery, or dropped off at a convenient shipping point, kiosk, or locker.
Addressing Supply Chain Issues Well in Advance
The pandemic caused far too much trouble for retail supply chains that left them stunted and dropped profitability below acceptable levels. Shipping demand skyrocketed early on in 2020, particularly after national carriers like UPS and FedEx began limiting volume and increasing surcharges to accommodate for this influx in business. It’s becoming increasingly clear that brands must protect themselves from future shortages by diversifying their carrier networks. They can do this if they:
- Utilize a variety of carriers such as regional shipping companies and last mile logistics providers to ensure all volume demands can be met — even during peak season.
- Move products closer to customers by leveraging forwarding stocking locations, micro-fulfillment strategies, crowdsourced delivery, and other last-mile resources that will shape the future of retail shipping.
- Leverage carrier-agnostic technology solutions to ensure agile logistic operations at all points of the year.
Cutting Costs Associated with the Returns Cycle
Two important aspects every brand needs to address are the true cost of returns and the reverse logistics process. By using GEODIS City Delivery, brands can have a custom designed returns process that’s both cost-effective and efficient. Here are a couple other tips:
- Utilize intuitive in-house technology solutions that offer real-time inventory tracking and management, it’s easier to assess the status of a return quickly so it can be restocked, returned to inventory, or disposed of properly.
- Consider using one of GEODIS City Delivery’s alliance partners, who offers self-service returns portals for contactless, convenient returns using automated lockers or kiosks. This solution is the ultimate in customer convenience.
Being Prepared for the Future — Whatever That May Be
This global pandemic truly blind-sided so many businesses, regardless of their size or industry, and has highlighted just how crucial it is for all brands to brace themselves for whatever might come in the future. Experts predict that we’ll see brick and mortar stores become a “multi-purpose experience destination” that seamlessly integrates online offerings with rapid, local fulfillment. We also know malls are not dead. GEODIS City Delivery uses A-rated Mall Based Fulfillment solutions for 3PL services, forward staged inventory, ship from store, store replenishment and peak season contingency planning.
Despite just ending a long, exhausting year of constant uncertainty, brands need to prepare their supply chains and proactively design a unified e-commerce user experience paired with convenience and an elevated customer delivery experience.
See how GEODIS City Delivery can help your brand build a long-lasting, sustainable supply chain that offers stability, predictability and profitability, even during the most challenging of times.