Customer Experience: Why the last mile makes all the difference

Today’s customer is more demanding, feels less attached to a single brand and buys where and when he wants to: classically in shopping stores, with a laptop from home or on the train with a smartphone. At the same time, he wishes to decide when and where his goods will be delivered. Times in which the price was the only decisive factor for online shoppers are over. Instead, customers are looking for unique selling points in a brand that go beyond product features and price. As the range of products grows and prices become more competitive, it is the customer experience and service that determines the choice of a brand. In order to be competitive now and in the future, retailers must further develop their processes with the focus on customer satisfaction – this begins with product selection and ends with parcel delivery to the customer.

Negative experiences undermine the customer relationship
Online retailers often neglect the shipping process and disregard customer contact after the order has been placed. The fulfillment process as the last step of a sales cycle is one of the most emotional phases of the customer journey. While the customer waits longingly for his parcel, many things can still go wrong. A late delivery, a damaged package or picking errors give the customer a bad feeling and create a negative customer experience. What remains is a disappointed customer who will overflow to the competition the next time he makes a purchase. Bad news for the customer relationship and turnover.

Additional offers are the key to customer loyalty
If you want to meet and, at best, exceed your customers’ expectations, you have to know your customers and respond to their needs. Online retailers should offer their customers an appropriate portfolio of delivery options that suit them and can change depending on demographics and regions. Depending on the range of goods and customer structure, these may include extra-fast delivery such as same-day delivery, evening delivery on a desired date or pickup at a parcel station. If customers have the choice of different carriers, they can decide from which parcel service they want to receive their shipment and with which one they would like to return it.

Depending on the fulfillment service provider, they offer a returns portal where the buyer can register his return. Depending on the purchasing behaviour of the target group, the pre-printed return label can either be included with the delivery or the customer can return the shipment himself online after receiving it. This option not only saves paper, but also offers online retailers better planning, as they can receive digital information on the product status before the return arrives, enabling them to replan with it. The inclusion of individual flyers, brochures or discount codes already incentivize customers for their next purchase, and a branded box leaves a positive impression and strengthens branding.

At the same time, customers want to be personally supported by the online retailer and take advantage of further services. This includes informing customers about the status of their delivery and notifying them in good time of any discrepancies. When online retailers send automated tracking notifications and keep the delivery status available in real time, customers are proactively kept informed about the order status during delivery. Customers want to be able to easily find a contact person in case of questions about the order or in case of a complaint. In addition to the classic mail support, support via telephone or through a personal contact person is oriented to the increasing customer needs. As soon as the right services have been found, all processes should be continuously reviewed and further developed to meet changing market requirements.

The customer experience makes the difference
The last few metres of a purchase determine whether retailers will continue to offer their customers a convincing service after successfully clicking the order button. Optimized shipping and impeccable customer service not only keep customers happy, but are also decisive for the retailer’s performance. Those who correctly analyse their customers’ needs and also take care of an all-round positive customer experience right up to the final phase of a purchase will differentiate themselves and benefit from a lasting customer relationship. Because one thing is certain: only satisfied customers will come back and buy again from the same supplier.

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