To create an ideal customer experience, retailers need to look at the entire purchasing process — from browsing and checkout through to delivery and returns. Every interaction with a brand is pivotal in developing a repeat (or better yet, lifelong) customer.
An e-commerce storefront’s main function is to increase conversions through a seamless online shopping experience while an order management system’s main function is processing and servicing orders placed on the storefront. While e-commerce storefronts and order management systems have very different purposes, when used together they can scale operations, grow revenue, and power amazing customer experiences.
How to Optimize Customer Experiences
A customer’s experience with a brand begins long before and after they click the “buy” button. There are several factors that influence whether that shopper becomes a repeat customer. Retailers must look at how they can optimize the entire buying process from pre to post purchase.
When consumers are looking to make a purchase, a retailer’s job is to ensure they have all the information they need to make their decision easier and limit any frustrations. Inventory must be accurate. With an order management system, retailers have visibility into their inventory across every channel — including marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, or other third-party retailers, as well as their own ecommerce site. They can display certain percentages of inventory to different channels and leverage safety stock, so customers see exactly what is available where.
Accepting pre-orders and back-orders can also improve the customer experience. Gain momentum and (line up revenue) for a new product launch by accepting preorders and displaying estimated delivery dates on your site. Accept back-orders for popular products that are out of stock and highlight when the product is expected to be back in stock — giving customers the information they need to make their purchasing decision.
When consumers make their way to the shopping cart, their expectations are extremely high.
Retailers can offer consumers the option to choose their most convenient delivery method or pickup location, select their delivery date, or even accept multiple ship-to addresses. It also allows retailers to accept consumers' preferred payment methods, including credit, debit, gift cards, e-gift cards, store credits, and buy-now-pay-later options.
Post-purchase is where the rubber meets the road and retailers fulfill the promises they made at checkout. During the fulfillment process, customers expect fast fulfillment and to be notified every step of the way.
A dedicated order management system enables retailers to create a buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere, return anywhere model — from BOPIS and curbside pickup to drop shipping and ship-from-store. By setting up automated workflows in their OMS, retailers can offer customers the ability to select the fulfillment option of their choice and notify them of any delivery updates.
Make Returns and Exchanges Easy
Returns and exchanges are inevitable, but they don’t have to be a liability. Making returns easy is a key driver in purchasing decisions with 67% of buyers checking the returns page before making a purchase. Giving customers the ability to self-initiate returns puts the consumer in control while giving the retailer the opportunity to incentivize consumers to make additional purchases during the process.
Fast growing retailers understand that letting their technology focus on what they do best is a win-win for everyone — especially for customers.