The global supply chain shortage is not a new issue, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. Customers have become just as aware of the issues the supply chain is facing as the retailers who are having to deal with the fallout in their inventory. There has been a shift in demand on almost everything – from household items and food to personal care and electronics – and items that were once taken for granted are now a hot commodity (remember the toilet paper and disinfectant shortage of 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic?).
From when they make that first click to the delivery of that item on their doorstep, consumers want insight into every step of the journey. Online shopping, along with other types of purchase fulfilment strategies such as curbside pick-up, have become the norm and retailers need to adapt to make improvements to the buyer’s journey.
Even though customers are making changes to how, when and where they shop, they are still demanding a superior customer experience. For retailers, this presents both opportunities and challenges when creating the right formula for success. SOTI’s latest report, From Clicks to Ships: Navigating the Global Supply Chain Crisis, dives into the expectations of the retail consumer in 2022 – not only how to keep customers happy, but the importance of their overall experience.
Want to know what consumers are saying about supply chain shortages?Download our free report, From Clicks to Ships: Navigating the Global Supply Chain Crisis
A Great Experience from the First Click
As the saying goes, the customer is king (or queen). Good customer service is the quality and timely assistance provided by a business to the people who use or buy its products and services. A positive or negative customer experience can have a big impact on any businesses’ bottom line. It’s been estimated that acquiring a new customer can cost an organization over five times more than simply keeping an existing customer happy.
In SOTI’s latest report, 68% of respondents said they expect to know, at all times, where their order is within the delivery process. Have their new shoes been packaged yet? Are the dog’s new toys out of the warehouse and on a truck? Is their new book out for delivery today? If there’s a hold up, what is it and how will it be resolved? Customers want to know. And if a retailer can’t tell them, they’ll shop somewhere that can.
With shopping habits changing, no one can afford to take their customers, new or long standing, for granted. Consumer expectations have not only changed, but if their preferred retailer is unable to provide information for any step along their shopping journey, they are happy to look for a retailer who can deliver.
The relationship between a business and its customers doesn’t look the same today as it did even 10 years ago. That means customer service shouldn’t look the same today as it did in the past either. It doesn’t have to be only larger companies revolutionizing the retail world – any company can build processes or products to improve the buyer’s experience.
If a shipment will be delayed, customers want to know, in detail, when it will arrive at their doorstep. If an item is out of stock, customers demand to know when it will be available. Just 13% of consumers surveyed say retailers are providing accurate information of which items are currently in stock. One could surmise that this means consumers feel that 87% of retailers aren’t doing something right or know what is happening with their own inventory. Being among those who provide accurate information on merchandise availability will surely stand out from their competition.
Shoppers Know About Supply Chain Shortages. But It’s Not Their Problem
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. With the current state of the supply chain, there seem to be a few links contributing to shortages felt around the globe. To name a few:
- There are not enough drivers for transport trucks
- Factories temporarily halting production due to COVID
- Increase in demand from consumers
- Shipping costs are now higher for companies to get their goods to where they need to be
The shortages in the supply chain have greatly impacted businesses and consumers in nearly every industry in every corner of the globe. From delays of food deliveries, backorders for new appliances and the bottleneck in the Suez Canal, the supply chain has made headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers know what’s going on, but they still want their goods when they want them.
It’s more than just boats or shipping containers stuck at a port. Supply chain issues have been felt every step of the way, with 57% of consumers saying they haven’t been able to buy items they want or have had to opt for alternatives.
The math is simple, more tech + more information = happy customers. With this new awareness, shortages and supply chain constraints are changing consumers’ shopping habits such as buying locally (within their own country) as opposed to relying on overseas shipments. Now more than ever, retailers need the right mobile technology in place to respond to constantly shifting demands to give the consumer the information they require to receive their goods.
WhAT DO consumers WANT FROM RETAILERS IN 2022?Download our latest report to find out
How Tech Can Help Retailers with Customer Experiences
When customers feel appreciated, companies gain measurable benefits, including the chance to win more of their customers’ spending dollars. The payoffs for great experiences and being made to feel valued are tangible: up to a 16% price premium on products and services, plus increased loyalty. And a premium customer experience can help increase revenue by between 4% and 8%.
With customer service comes convenience – another high priority for customers when selecting a retailer. There are tech trends expected to impact and influence the retail industry for the upcoming year, but what conveniences are consumers expecting?
- The ability to start shopping on one device and pick-up where they left off on another device
- Items placed in a shopping cart are still in the cart when they come back later to complete the transaction
- A personalized shopping experience
- A simple way to search for desired items
- A quick checkout experience with few forms to fill out
- An easy, convenient return policy
- Seamless, fast delivery
Technology from different systems, devices and locations must talk to each other and experience the highest possible levels of uptime. When they don’t is when retailers are unaware of what’s happening in their supply chain and that is when customers get frustrated. Whether it’s developing and deploying apps, securing sensitive data, remotely resolving device issues or managing Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices, retailers have an obligation to provide the highest level of customer service to thrive through the supply chain crisis. Wherever retailers can make investments that alleviate shopping pain points, they will keep their customers happy and reap the benefits of having happy customers.