This piece was first published in Multichannel Merchant on May 20 , 2020.
With online shopping at an all-time high, providing an outstanding customer experience has never been more important for DTC brands. COVID-19 has reiterated how critical it is for brands to seamlessly embed technology into all stages of the customer journey.
From operational efficiency to full visibility for both brands and customers, data-driven technology is no longer a nice to have; it’s a must have for brands that intend to stick around.
During the post-purchase phase in particular, last-mile delivery technology can assist in transparent communication between the consumer and the delivery service, providing efficiency and accuracy. A majority of brands have no control over their last-mile operations, as they’re usually handled by giant third-party services This doesn’t give the brand a significant role in the final and most critical phase of the customer journey.
When brands are able to understand and implement technology, they put themselves in a position where they can control their customers’ experience from start to finish, ultimately having the ability to enhance it in every way possible.
Here are three ways technology can boost customer experience, specifically in the last mile:
Aside from the email that lets customers know their order has been shipped, customers are usually left completely in the dark about their order status and ETA.
The industry standard in the last mile is vague updates from couriers with no clear ownership of the critical data that consumers crave: Where is my package? No one sees the full picture, and customers pay the price. In recent years, food delivery companies have led the way in last-mile visibility, becoming fully transparent regarding where the order is in transit. And the time has come for DTC brands to do the same.
Customers deserve a fully transparent process throughout the entire last mile with real-time tracking and accurate ETAs. Brands need to consider adding things like digital proof of delivery and chat tools to ensure the experience never falls short. In uncertain times like these, they can put themselves at an advantage by going the extra mile to give customers a sense of security and trust.
COVID-19 has forced last mile delivery to become entirely contactless, further distancing brands and their customers. While brands can no longer interact with them face to face, there are endless possibilities to connect with customers digitally.
Open channels of communication – social media in particular – are not only an opportunity to maintain connections, but to enhance loyalty and the brand experience. In addition to relevant and on-point messaging, brands can tighten feedback loops and provide empathetic customer support. Brands can take comfort knowing that their customers want to hear from them; it’s simply a matter of how they deliver that experience.
COVID-19 has placed heavy strains on ecommerce companies, and on an already broken logistics supply chain. Many companies, from giants like Amazon to smaller DTC brands, are experiencing severe delays and even delivery failures. In fact, in a recent survey, approximately 80% of Amazon Prime subscribers said the expected delivery date has impacted their purchase decisions for essential items. Retailers need to be able to provide accurate and transparent communication of delivery dates that are reflective of what their current inventory is able to produce.
We are at a unique point in time where brands can either get ahead or ride the wave to see what happens. By leveraging AI-driven technology, they can optimize and augment delivery routes in real time to provide accurate and reliable experiences. For example, AI and deep learning algorithms can analyze and adapt to traffic trends and adjust ETAs accordingly for a more accurate experience.
The implementation of technology will allow brands to host a smooth and accurate last-mile delivery experience that will boost AOV, customer satisfaction and retention. Now more than ever is the time to deliver on the promises to consumers.
May Walter is CTO of Bond.