Serving customers in the post-purchase stage
Many retailers like to think of the purchase as the final step of the sales process, but for many, it is but one single phase. Most retailers will at least need to be able to provide service to customers after they’ve bought items, which generally comes in the form of exchanging purchases or issuing refunds. For other merchants, the post-purchase process gets even more complex – their line of business may require extensive interactions with customers over the lifetime of the product. Perhaps they need to do maintenance, make upgrades or otherwise service these goods.
However, given the sheer number of channels customers use to make purchases, serving customers post-purchase has never been more difficult. If merchants do not have all the order information and customer data consolidated in a single location, it can quickly become almost impossible to find the necessary intel to answer customer inquiries or do other service work.
Antiquated solutions only make things worse
For merchants hoping to improve their ability to serve customers after purchase, the first step is to ensure the right solutions are in place to assist with order management and customer service. Many problems start with the fact that merchants are trying to execute complex omnichannel retail initiatives, but they simply do not have the right tools to do so effectively. It is like trying to put the metaphorical square peg into a round hole.
Lovesac, an American furniture retailer, was one of the many merchants that struggled to serve customers post-purchase. Lovesac sells unique modular furniture, with customers able to purchase additions after the fact. This meant the merchant needed to be able to see what customers purchased to make relevant recommendations. However, the solutions in place did not allow the company to serve customers effectively, especially as more shoppers came from Lovesac’s online store – currently, the website drives about 20 percent of the retailer’s sales.
“We were using email to manage shipments, which limited access and was extremely manual,” Kimberly Dietz, operations engineer at Lovesac, told Retail Solutions Online. “Our one-way transaction process worked in straightforward cases when customers took inventory directly from the stores, but did not include the capabilities necessary to support Lovesac’s omnichannel customer delivery and service experience or repeat purchase tracking. In addition, whenever we had to go back and review an order history, we were hindered by the fact that our processes were scattered and not at all scalable.”
This is a challenge many retailers are encountering as well. The needs of the retail industry are constantly changing, particularly when considering the push for omnichannel shopping experiences that give customers the ability to shop where they want, when they want. Retailers need to seriously reconsider their technology solutions if they want to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the industry.
The real benefits of utilizing the right technology
If post-purchase service is vital to the success of merchants, they must implement the right technology stack that will help them do the job. This could involve solutions that cover everything from customer relationship management to order management. However, once retailers make these investments, they will be able to see meaningful results if the appropriate solutions are implemented.
Lovesac’s Dietz was quick to note that, after purchasing the right solutions and making the appropriate customizations, Lovesac was much better prepared to handle holiday rushes and peak periods for 2015 and beyond.
“We definitely enjoyed an improved ability to keep pace with order volume and the ability to enter and fulfill orders more quickly thanks to enterprise-wide inventory visibility enabled by cloud inventory and order management systems,” she explained. “But we’re equally excited that we were able to capture a trove of information from the massive increase of customers in our stores during the holidays.”
If merchants feel hamstrung by their technology, whether they want to better serve customers after the purchase or want to sell products across multiple marketplaces, retailers may want to reconsider their software investments and look at more comprehensive eCommerce solutions that better fits their needs.