Last Mile – The Key To Winning Digital Customers

Last Mile - The Key To Winning Digital Customers

Digital retailing is fast becoming the next generation industry for diverse types of retailers, be it omnichannel or pure e-commerce. There are likely to be increasing digital interactions and customer engagement that will look vastly different compared to brick-and-mortar experiences. It is, however, true that face-to-face interactions are still a key to establishing a connection with customers beyond transactional exchanges. Despite this limitation, the digital retailing has an edge over the traditional channel because it provides convenience and flexibility to consumers. They can browse, shop, and return items from any mobile devices without having to go through the hassles of dropping by a physical store.

The current trend of using multichannel retailing will hand over the throne to consumers, the “Real Kings.” A survey carried out by Gartner consolidates this fact, which shows that by 2020, 85 percent consumers will be able to manage their relationship with a business without interacting with any human representative. This complete ‘digital transformation’ may pose some tough challenges for retailers when it comes to winning and retaining customers in the highly fragmented and competitive industry. The market variants will, however, depend on the digital maturity of companies across the sectors. Here we will discuss the keys steps and strategies to win and retain digital customers.

Four Steps to Winning Digital Customers
In order to create a niche, digital retailers should try to develop a distinctive digital offering through the following four key steps :

1. Identify
The first step is to identify what customers want, and a smart approach is to segment the customer base by values, needs, and behaviours across channels. This approach will help customize the digital experience and customer journey.

2. Strategize
Once a company identifies customers’ needs, it can formulate a holistic digital and omnichannel strategy. This will help consumers to switch between both digital and offline touch points easily and experience well-coordinated and rewarding multichannel shopping, like click & collect, or parcel lockers. This approach should be particularly effective in North America, where customers still prefer personal interactions and have not completely embraced digital-only channels compared to European nations. A survey by McKinsey & Company reveals that awareness of digital channels is higher among customers in Europe where nearly 50 percent customers are open to digital channels than their US counterparts. In order to overcome customer inhibitions to use digital-only channels, companies should make it easier for consumers to speak to someone live as and when required. This is likely to minimise the friction of switching channels, will increase customer satisfaction, and keep operating costs low.

3. Deliver Fast
Developing an effective and convenient system of fast delivery has proved to be a key to scaling up retail businesses. If companies seek to encourage customers to use digital channels, they need to adopt highly differentiated strategies for a seamless migration. The market leaders deliver personalized and consistent messages to their customers along with offerings tailored to their specific needs. An apt example can be sending a relevant link for installation or FAQs to customers, who have just purchased a new product. In addition, marketing campaigns can also alter the messages according to the buying behaviours of different customers.

4. Reduce Risk
Going through a digital transition takes significant amount of time, energy, and resources, and any failure leads to substantial financial loss as well. To minimize these risks and improve sustenance, e-commerce, and omnichannel players try to develop clear and consistent operations and communications. They are aware of the fact that a meticulously designed road map for digital transformation along with performance metrics can facilitate cross-functional cooperation and establish a culture of flexibility and innovation. Also, cutting unnecessary costs can increase cash reserves and generate more revenues. Moreover, companies can use the saved fund for better promotions and campaigns to attract customers. Some of the ways of cost-cutting are reducing shipping cost by adopting efficient methods like parcel lockers, implement cloud technology, buying own warehouse space, and others.

We have already talked about the major differences in consumers’ acceptance of digital channels in the US and EU. It’s important that retail companies in the rest of the world including India also optimize their digital and omnichannel presence. How quickly they can adopt this approach will depend on competitive intensity, and the readiness of consumers to change their buying behaviour.

Getting the Last Mile Right
Research shows that consumers have expectations when they buy online, and one of them is faster delivery. Consumers who go online looking for help want a response fast. Let’s take a look at the following statistics:

•66 percent of buyers expect a same-day response
•43 percent expect a response within an hour
•Some even want a response in five minutes or less

The data above shows what is in store in the future when it comes to customer expectations in the dynamic retail industry. More of these expectations revolve around product delivery, and this is where online retailers often falter. They may have a large inventory, great products, and even provide excellent online buying experience; still, they keep stumbling at the final step or the ‘Last Mile.’ E-commerce companies need a faster and foolproof delivery system along with a reliable courier service provider. Also, the shipping process should keep customers updated about the progress of the delivery and make it as seamless as possible.

In this context, automated parcel lockers have emerged as an effective and long-term solution to the last mile challenges. Even if customers are not at home, their products will still get delivered to a designated locker, and they can collect it anytime within 72 hours. Customers can also pay on the spot by using CSOD (Card Swipe on Delivery).

It looks like the days of failed deliveries are truly over, and it’s a reality in India too. Smartbox will play a pivotal role to make life easier for both retailers and consumers. Smartbox has launched India’s first network of Automated Parcel Delivery Terminals. The terminals are located at strategic locations for easy drop and collection. Currently, present at various locations in Delhi NCR region, this network will expand all over India by the end of 2016 to help consumers and e-commerce companies in 24/7 parcel pick-up and drop respectively. Smartbox brings the much needed security, privacy and flexibility for the delivery of online shopping. It allows customers to pick-up parcels 24/7 as per their convenience.

To learn more about incorporating parcel lockers as part of the retail supply chain, you can browse our website – https://smartbox.in/.  We are helping out major retail players and e-commerce sites to streamline their delivery process by installing parcel lockers. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at 8882-760-760, and we will be glad to assist you.

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