May-01

What’s the quickest way to destroy your online business?

Ignore customer and internal complaints and provide bad customer service.

That’s right. In today’s quick-everything culture, a delayed or absent response to customer and internal complaints could cost you billions of dollars in lost revenue!

It is not an exaggeration to say that the way you handle customer service issues could be the difference in whether your online retail company keeps its virtual doors open or not.

Here’s what the statistics say:

Believe it or not, technology can be the answer to helping you better manage customer service issues better. Automated processes and e-commerce software can also help create a smooth operation internally, which means you prevent the problems that cause complaints in the first place.

We have divided this article based on solutions to three common retail problem areas- inventory, shipping, and automation, or lack thereof.

How Inventory Management Systems Prevent Complaints

Inventory-management (1)

Inventory management systems take care of all the details of handling products, managing orders and keeping systems updated in real time. With digital systems taking care of inventory management, you can say goodbye to these online retail complaints:

1. Problem: Items low or out of stock

Never run out of inventory again, or at least have enough advance warning to notify customers or compensate them for the inconvenience if an out-of-stock situation is unavoidable. As inventory declines, purchase orders can be raised automatically, or alerts issues to you so you can act on them immediately.

Automated inventory management will notify you when your stock is running low, and can help teams identify and prepare for high-volume seasonal rushes. Systems offer a helping hand of sorts to help you gain more inventory transparency.

2. Problem: Difficult picking and order fulfilment

Efficiency with picking, packing, and shipping products in the warehouse environment is crucial to your business’ success. The faster and more efficiently the picking process, the closer your company comes to on time delivery (OTD).

An inventory management system can help automate repetitive inventory and order tasks. The software can also help you facilitate batch picking over single picking and help you redefine your warehouse space based on picking needs.

How Shipping Management Prevents Complaints

shipping-management

Shipping is the lifeblood of an online business. A kink in this process can be disastrous to your bottom line.

Automating shipping management, however, can make a huge difference in efficiency and effectiveness and all but eliminate these common complaints about shipping:

3. Problem: Slow shipping

Once you’ve got your internal systems in place, you’ll want to be sure that your packages hit the mailbox just as efficiently. A shipping management system will allow you to choose the best method for the best price and notify you of any possible delays in the shipping process, so you can keep the customer informed.
Shipping management also takes care of details that impact efficiency and therefore affect delivery times, such as strategically packing the truck based on destination location for maximum time efficiency.

4. Problem: Difficult returns and refunds

With at least 30 percent of online purchases being returned, customers want a no-hassle, no-cost, quick, and easy return policy. Leaving this up to manual methods makes for a subjective, multi-stepped process, which creates much room for delays and errors.

Automated shipping management systems can process returns and approvals, create and send return postage labels, and provide companies with analytics on returns. These tools reduce customer service hours devoted to returns and refunds, and can provide teams with insight into how to lower return rates in the future.

How Automation Prevents Complaints

Since the first American Industrial Revolution when machines replaced humans in factories, manufacturing efficiencies have exploded as technology has evolved.

Another step forward in technological advances, automated project management, automated marketing systems, and ecommerce software obliterate these common internal complaints:

5. Problem: Too many manual tasks

Doing tasks by hand requires a great deal of human capital, which can be costly, time-consuming, and susceptible to error. Automating every aspect of a project is a great boost to efficiency, makes everything run more smoothly and predictably, and helps reduce mistakes.

Automated project management, marketing, and e-commerce software lets teams take a set-it-and-forget-it (until you analyze-it) approach to front of house tasks.

Schedule social media and email marketing messages, automatically notify project stakeholders of their upcoming tasks, and let the ecommerce shop run itself with automatic payments and ordering 24-7. Then use reporting and analysis tools to understand where you’ll need to tweak campaigns.

6. Problem: One-off customers and lack of loyalty

Those customers who buy “one and done” are prevalent in the online retail world. It can be hard to create repeat customers, especially using a manual marketing effort. Stop emailing each individual customer and use a CRM’s power to batch your audience into targeted segments.

Automating outreach and communication through sophisticated ecommerce software, marketing automation, and customer relationship tools keeps your business in the line of sight with a consistent message, which helps groom customers for repeat business. When all other aspects of the buying process go smoothly and customer service is exceptional, customers are more likely to purchase again.

If your online business struggles under the weight of customer or internal complaints, take a look at your processes. How many of the complaints are specifically tied to a system that you’re still operating manually?

It’s time to implement technological tools for your online retail business. Apply automation to your inventory, shipping, marketing, and project management and watch customer satisfaction grow, sales increase, and complaints disappear.

 

Mary Bernard is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She has helped all types of companies — from small brands to multi-million dollar franchise corporations — grow their businesses through blogging and content marketing. She is a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, TN, where she resides with her husband and three teenagers. Find out more about Mary and her business, A Way With Words, at www.maryparkerbernard.com.