In the competitive retail and ecommerce space today, retailers are ramping up their supply chain technology to become leaders in capability to offer the best user experience. Providing customers with the most service options, transparency, and a seamless overall experience throughout their purchasing process are drivers for brand loyalty and retention. Order and inventory visibility are certainly some of the most critical components that separate the leaders from average players in the market. They not only empower service representatives, but also provide the customer with a real-time view of their orders from creation to delivery. Additionally, providing a detailed view of inventory throughout the store and ecommerce network will empower the customer further more and promote retention.
Keeping the customer informed throughout the delivery as well as the returns process instills a sense of trust with the customer. One way to create value for the customer is through transactional emails. Providing order visibility upon order confirmation, shipment confirmation, ready for pickup, returns confirmation, e.g., are some key events that should always be communicated to the customer. The more ways you can engage with the customer throughout the fullfilment process will enhance the user experience. This can be through email, text, or even social media.
In the US market today, retailers recognize the importance of inventory visibility, as 63.3% of retailers provide at least a basic ‘in-stock’ indicator on their website. The level at which you provide visibility is a topic of contention. However, as some believe, providing too much detail can potentially work against the retailer. For example, competitors may be able to monitor their site and with intelligence tools and create strategies to their advantage. Still, retailers should keep in mind the value created when the customer is empowered to view detailed levels of inventory. For example, knowing there is a low count of product at a nearby store may encourage the customer to purchase immediately before it goes out of stock, or even to visit the physical store. Find the right balance of inventory visibility detail that works for your business. If you are multi-billion-dollar global apparel retailer with very capable competitors, you may want to tone back your level of transparency. However, providing more inventory visibility to customers just may be the right advantage for your business.
Have you thought about the best way to engage with your customers throughout the entire ordering process? Have you found the balance between your customer orders, inventory visibility, and customer satisfaction? Drop us a line and we would love to share our expert knowledge about order and inventory visibility in the supply chain world!
Contributor: David Steinfeld, Business Development Leader at Bricz