Delivery as a Differentiator

Posted 3 days, 6 hours ago @ Newgistics

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (commonly referred to as ACSI) recently released its Retail Report for 2014 and the findings may surprise you. The report found that consumers are more satisfied with online retailers than they are with brick and mortar stores. Think about that for a minute: stores – where customers get one-on-one attention from knowledgeable sales reps, where they can touch and feel products before purchasing them – scored lower than online retail in customer satisfaction. In fact, satisfaction scores for stores decreased 1.4 percent from the previous year to an average score of 78.6 (on a scale of 0 to 100), while e-retailers’ scores increased 5.1 percent to 82.

According to ACSI, some of this can be attributed to the fact that online retailers were better prepared for winter storms, which wreaked havoc on the 2013 holiday shopping season. From the report: “As online sales reached record levels this holiday season, retailers and shippers were better prepared and there were far fewer incidents with delivery.”

Holidays aside, it’s customer-obsessed e-tailers that consistently score high in satisfaction surveys – not only because of their e-commerce sites, but because of their easy returns processes. Here are five tips for making delivery a customer satisfaction differentiator:

  1. Select a reliable shipping and returns partner: No matter how much a shopper loves your products, if delivery and returns are a weak point, they won’t bother shopping with you again. It’s imperative to select a reputable shipping partner that can help improve the customer experience by providing additional value. This may come in the form of data, visibility, brand care, etc. A true partner will also help lower your operational costs and other departmental costs, including customer service.
  2. Use returns as a way to drive sales: If you’re a pure-play e-tailer, shoppers don’t have the luxury of trying something on in your store. By offering easy returns, you are encouraging shoppers to buy an item in more than one size to determine which one to keep and which to ship back. According to a 2014 comScore study, 82% of respondents said they would complete an online purchase if they could return the item to a store or have free return shipping. Free shipping could be offered to premium customers, during seasonal spikes or as a limited-time offer to incent purchases. The alternative might be for the shopper to decide to buy at one of your competitor’s stores, where they can try the product on before purchasing. And in today’s competitive landscape, can any retailer afford that risk?
  3. Clearly articulate your returns policy: We can’t stress enough how important this is, as 66% of shoppers will research your returns policy before making a purchase (source: comScore). If they know a shipping label will be provided to them should they need to return an item, they are much more likely to buy from you.
  4. Consider offering instant refunds: When a shopper sends something back to a retailer, they are often pleasantly surprised when a retailer offers instant refunds or store credit. Rather than wait until the return reaches the warehouse, and another 5-7 days for the credit to appear on a shopper’s credit card statement, the shopper is instantly refunded or credited for their return while the package is still in transit.
  5. Remarket to shoppers who return items: By partnering with your marketing and promotions team, you can quickly and easily target shoppers that made recent returns with a special offer or incentive to get them to shop with you again. This shows you understand their shopping behavior, which goes a long way in engendering loyalty.

Of course there are other factors that affect e-tailers’ customer satisfaction scores, such as having sites that are easy to navigate, pages that load quickly, useful product images and efficient checkout processes, but returns also play a critical role in customer satisfaction. To learn more about what customers are looking for in their e-commerce engagements, visit the ACSI website and download the full Retail Report.

  • Share/Bookmark

eTail West 2015: Another Great Show

February 23rd, 2015 @ Newgistics

eTail West just wrapped up and, as always, it was an exciting event. Taking place in Palm Springs, February 17-20, eTail West is the event where over 1,800 ecommerce and multi-channel retail innovators come together to discuss the most pressing issues in retail today. Here’s a recap of some of the highlights of this year’s show.

Embrace the Merging Online and Offline

In his keynote presentation, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Peter Sheldon discussed a topic that’s at the top of priority lists this year – omni-channnel. According to Sheldon, “What’s going to happen over the next five years is a merging of online and offline into a single retail organization.” To achieve omni-channel success retailers will have to stop thinking about their digital and in-store customers as different people, and their online and physical store sales as separate. According to Forrester, half of all sales that take place in physical stores were influenced by online research. All parts of your business are focused on how to create the most pleasant customer experience both online and offline.

Don’t Just Collect Data – Utilize It

Ice.com CEO Brandon Proctor took a look at how to utilize customer analytics to personalize the onsite buying experience. Proctor began by saying that the problem with the “big data” buzzword is that it alludes to data collection and not utilization. Constructing the “complete view of the customer” is only step one. Step two is personalizing the experience for different customer segments. The customer is expecting it of you anyway – and they have short attention spans if they’re not getting what they expect.

Consumers Don’t Differentiate Between the Brand and the Retailer

Mobile technologies have had a wide-spread impact on the retail industry, but one of those impacts that gets little attention is the blurring of the lines between retailers and brands. In his keynote, Anthony Long of Kimberly-Clark discussed how consumers increasingly don’t differentiate between the brand and the retailer – there’s no use in brands and retailers trying to stay distinct from each other. Brands and retailers today share the same goal anyway – to get the consumer what they want when they want it. To compete successfully in this age of mobile driven-driven commerce, new types of partnerships must be forged. As a result of these partnerships, we’ll begin to see products that swim across the lanes of those who sell products.

Thanks for another great show – we look forward to attending again next year!

  • Share/Bookmark

We’re off to Munich!

February 9th, 2015 @ Newgistics

This week, we’re off to Munich for the 2015 hybris Global Partner Summit, which will cover topics ranging from responsive storefronts and SAP integration to updates on the hybris core platform, merchandizing and a new mobile SDK for B2B commerce. We’re excited that Tacit Knowledge, a Newgistics company, has been nominated for the hybris EMEA Partner of the Year Award, which will be announced at the show.

As a hybris gold level partner, we have produced hybris-powered e-commerce sites for retailers such as of Mulberry, Beaverbrooks and ghd, with additional hybris-powered sites to be unveiled throughout the year. Partnering with hybris has enabled us to build best-in-class commerce experiences and, year after year, the company has ensured its technology stays ahead of what consumers demand. So it was no surprise to see hybris named as a leading B2C commerce suite vendor in Forrester Research’s latest B2C commerce report entitled: “The Forrester Wave™: B2C Commerce Suites, Q1 2015.”

In the report, Forrester highlights hybris’ “significant growth” since its acquisition by SAP, pointing to the following areas as contributing factors:

1.)   The core value proposition of the hybris platform (combined PIM, eCommerce, experience management, and OMS on a single, modern architecture platform) remains intact following the acquisition

2.)   Existing SAP ERP clients are gaining confidence in the integration approach of hybris and the SAP ERP

3.)   SAP’s global footprint is propelling significant sales momentum in APAC and other emerging markets

4.)   The network of commerce service providers working with hybris is stronger than ever

5.)   SAP account reps are educating their existing account portfolios on the hybris solution

As Forrester points out in its report, much of the anticipated growth in ecommerce over the next five years will be driven by re-platforming as established retailers look to scale their technology and branded manufacturers explore direct-to-consumer options. It’s an exciting time in the commerce world and we’re honored to be a trusted hybris partner. We’re looking forward to the exciting developments the company will share this week (the beer gardens and Bavarian cuisine are just an added bonus)!

  • Share/Bookmark

2014 Holiday Shopping Trends

January 30th, 2015 @ Newgistics

Now that we’ve recovered from the holiday rush, it’s time to take a look back at the 2014 holiday shopping season. What can we learn from 2014 that can be applied to our 2015 strategies?

The “Flattening” of the Holiday E-Commerce Shopping Season

One notable trend in 2014 was the “flattening” of the holiday e-commerce shopping season. Rather than seeing spikes in sales on a few particular days, spending was spread out more evenly throughout the season.

November’s Billion Dollar Days

During the week of Thanksgiving, Thursday, Friday and Saturday all saw more than $1 billion in online sales (Sunday fell just short). This was the first time that Thanksgiving and the following Saturday surpassed the $1 billion mark. Even more impressive, Cyber Monday topped $2 billion in online sales in the U.S. – the first single day to reach that milestone.

Mobile’s Making Moves

More than half of all web traffic on Thanksgiving, and just about half on Black Friday, came from mobile devices. And it appears that smartphones are for browsing, while tablets are for buying. On Black Friday, phones drove 35 percent of all traffic, but only 12 percent of sales; tablets, on the other hand, drove 15 percent of traffic and 16 percent of sales.

Green Monday Continues to Grow

Green Monday is defined by comScore as the Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas. This year’s Green Monday fell on December 8, a day that racked up $1.6 billion in sales – a steep climb from $854 million spent in 2009. What’s even more impressive is that all five work days during the Green Monday Week reached more than $1 billion in sales this year.

The Shopping Continues on Christmas Day

Online sales were up 8.3 percent on Christmas day as compared to 2013. And the majority of that shopping was done on mobile devices. Mobile traffic accounted for 57.1 percent of all online traffic on Christmas Day – an increase of 18.6 percent. While 42.6 percent of online traffic came from desktop PCs.

So what are the key takeaways that will help us prepare for the 2015 holiday shopping season? E-commerce only continues to grow – and much of online shopping is now being done on mobile devices. With these numbers expected to reach new heights in the future, make sure your sites are mobile optimized and that you’re catering to the mobile user. And while you should still focus on those high-traffic shopping days, there are definitely more of them to mark on your calendar. Black Friday isn’t going anywhere – but it may even be expanding to include Black Wednesday, Black Thursday and a number of other days throughout the holiday shopping season.

______

Sources: IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Reports: Black Friday Results 2014; IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Reports: Cyber Monday Results 2014; NRF’s Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey; comScore: Thanksgiving and Black Friday See Online Buying Bonanza as Both Days Surpass $1 Billion in Desktop Spending; comScore: Cyber Monday Exceeds $2 Billion in Desktop Sales for First Time Ever to Rank as Heaviest U.S. Online Spending Day in History; comScore: Second Consecutive Week Featuring Five Billion Dollar Weekdays of Online Desktop Spending Reaffirms Strong Holiday Season; comScore: Green Monday Surges 15 Percent to $1.6 Billion in Desktop Sales to Rank as 3rd Heaviest Day of the Holiday Season-to-Date; Manhattan/IDG survey

  • Share/Bookmark

Greetings from NRF’s BIG Show: Monday Recap

January 13th, 2015 @ Newgistics

Day two of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show is behind us; let’s take a look at some highlights. With this year’s EXPO Hall even bigger and better, we’ve had the chance to explore a wealth of innovative retail technologies. The energy in the hall has been buzzing. If you haven’t made it over for a visit at Newgistics’ booth (#2435) come stop by today to check out our end-to-end e-commerce solution.

Monday was an exciting one for anyone who is a fan of ABC’s Shark Tank as NRF had its own business competition on stage here in New York with its Digital Commerce Startup of the Year competition. The top five finalists were showcased. We are an industry that celebrates innovation, so it was great to learn more about other companies that are transforming the shopping experience and making a positive impact on the retail industry.

The shows keynotes have been full of compelling ideas. Former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, offered discussion of the current global economic landscape and the challenges facing the world today. Providing insights into topics ranging from the flood of disposable income in the U.S. due to low oil prices, to the cause and implications of lower consumer demand in Europe and emerging markets like Brazil and Russia, Dr. Bernanke’s examined the big-picture of retail’s future.

Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com and Kayak.com, came together with John Mesberg, general manager of smarter commerce at IBM, to discuss the new customer experience. Their presentation looked at how the consumerization of technology has transformed how individuals, retailers and suppliers engage with one another. Jones and Mesberg examined the unique opportunities presented by technologies that can help retailers offer a highly relevant experience to individual customers. It’s a transformative time for the industry as many of us figure out how to optimize technologies like big data analytics to enable better customer engagement.

The first two days of the BIG Show were whirlwind and we’re looking forward to the momentum continuing throughout the last day of the show. Visit us on Twitter @newgistics for more updates.

  • Share/Bookmark

Newgistics Showcases End-to-End E-Commerce Solution at the National Retail Federation BIG Show

January 9th, 2015 @ Newgistics

Leading Logistics and Omni-Channel Commerce Solutions Company to Sponsor and Exhibit at NRF’s Flagship Industry Event

AUSTIN, Texas – January 9, 2015Newgistics, a leading provider of end-to-end e-commerce solutions for top retailers and brands, today announced its participation as an exhibitor and sponsor of the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show. Top industry professionals gather at this four-day event for networking, presentations, educational sessions and an expo hall replete with the latest retail and e-commerce technologies.

Newgistics joins this century-long run event, taking place this year from January 11-13 in New York City, to showcase its end-to-end e-commerce solution, which addresses the entire e-commerce lifecycle from e-commerce platform implementation and integration through order fulfillment, delivery and returns.

“We’re excited to be a part of this mainstay industry event,” said Elizabeth Hunter, VP E-Commerce at Newgistics. “A surge of technological innovation has altered the retail industry, creating both opportunities and challenges. NRF offers a great forum for sharing and reflecting on the lessons learned from the past year and exploring what lies ahead for 2015. We look forward to connecting with other industry professionals to discuss the current state of e-commerce and identifying innovative ideas  for being relevant in an  increasingly consumer-centric retail environment.”

Newgistics will be located in booth #2435 in the expo hall.

For more information on the NRF BIG Show and to register for the event, visit http://bigshow15.nrf.com/.

About Newgistics, Inc.

Newgistics, a leading provider of e-commerce technology for top retailers and brands, combines leading omni-channel commerce platforms and logistics services into a complete end-end to e-commerce solution. Integrating every step in the order life cycle, our end-to-end e-commerce offering includes: web design, implementation, integration, web hosting and support, order fulfillment, parcel delivery and returns. Since 1999, Newgistics has provided top merchants with innovative technology-driven solutions that deliver an exceptional customer experience and accelerate growth—from customer acquisition through fulfillment, delivery and returns. To find out more, visit http://www.newgistics.com.

  • Share/Bookmark

The Holiday Season’s Over, But Returns Season is Just Beginning

January 5th, 2015 @ Newgistics

2014 was another record breaking year for e-commerce that was capped-off by a particularly strong holiday season, according to comScore’s most recent data. From November 1 to December 21, shoppers in the U.S. spent $48.3 billion online, an increase of 15 percent from a year earlier.

While e-commerce return rates vary widely among retailers and product segments, they can be as high as 30 or 40 percent for apparel and other soft goods – the types of products that are especially popular holiday gifts. Like death and taxes, this much is certain: the growth that retailers saw in holiday sales this year will be mirrored in the number of returns they’ll have to manage. Now that the holidays are officially over and people are back to their daily routines, the returns season will pick up in earnest.

Returns can be a drag on the bottom line when retailers are left holding last season’s fashions or other merchandise that’s no longer on consumers’ shopping list. Plus, adding additional customer touchpoints to the e-commerce lifecycle naturally increases the potential for mishaps, mistakes and customer discontent. However, when returns are done efficiently, they’re a win-win for both the merchant and the customer.

With nearly 15 years of experience improving the e-commerce returns process – beginning with the introduction of the Newgistics SmartLabel in 2001– Newgistics knows how to make returns seamless, convenient and efficient for everyone involved. Here are some of the benefits we’ve brought to leading brands and their customers.

Merchant Benefits

  • Visibility for Better Planning. Knowing what is coming back helps the merchant better plan for the labor that will be required to disposition the merchandise, refurbish it if required, and get it back in stock faster during peak selling season.
  • Cost Savings. Being able to better plan for what is returning and when it will arrive can reduce labor expenses and ensure that facilities are not over- (or under-) staffed. In addition, proactive communication with customers about their returns will reduce inbound inquiries to save on call center expenses.
  • Brand Experience. Newgistics integrates closely with merchants so they maintain the entire consumer experience from order to return. While Newgistics technology powers everything, details such as branded tracking pages enable a consistent experience for the customer.
  • Profit Opportunity. Additional communication with customers gives retailers another chance to market and upsell or cross-sell. They can also opt to charge a fee for prepaid return labels.

Customer Benefits

  • Convenient and Easy. Newgistics SmartLabels can be included in a shipment or printed through a retailer’s website to offer consumers a hassle free prepaid return option. Once a label is affixed, getting packages on their way back to a retailer couldn’t be easier. Packages can be dropped in a home mail box, scheduled for a USPS Free Carrier Pickup, dropped at any post office or at one of the nearly 170,000 USPS collection boxes nationwide.
  • Peace of Mind. Transit triggers provided by tracking and proactive email communication inform customers of the status of their return so they know when it will be back in the retailer’s hands and when they’ll be credited for the merchandise.

You can learn more about Newgistics Returns Management at the links below which will bring you to our Website or to a Newgistics YouTube video:

http://www.newgistics.com/corp_returns/returns-management.aspx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQt4AKZA4sI

  • Share/Bookmark

NRF BIG Show: What’s on the Agenda?

December 23rd, 2014 @ Newgistics

We’re less than three weeks away from one of the most anticipated events in retail. There’s no better way to combat the post-holiday blues than to attend the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) BIG Show. Taking place January 11-13, 2015 in New York City, at some point during its century-long run the convention and expo earned the nickname “Retail’s BIG Show” – and with good reason. As Newgistics joins the show in 2015 as both an exhibitor and a sponsor, here are some of the sessions and events we’re most excited about:

Commerce in the Age of Flux

In this keynote presentation, Fast Company editor in chief Robert Safian welcomes us to “the Age of Flux.” Safian will explain how disruption and innovation are altering the landscape of commerce in all industries. With this future of fluidity and uncertainty how can we forecast roadmaps and business models? It may be time to embrace instability and we’re excited to see the advice Safian has for modern businesses.

Lessons Learned From 2014 Holiday Shopping

While we’re still in the midst of this holiday shopping season, it seems we as an industry have come a long way from the 2013 shopping season with all its e-commerce and delivery blunders. In this breakout session led by StellaService it will be interesting to take a look back at this year’s peak season and all the challenges and triumphs.

Omnichannel Commerce: Successfully Navigating the New Purchase Path

The always-on, omnichannel digital age we’re living and working in has increased customer expectations when it comes to meeting their needs. We’re looking forward to this breakout session of panelists including retail innovators from Uber, Cole Haan and American Express. Panelists will discuss strategies that bring the purchase path to life and also include mobile innovation case studies and best practices.

First Look: 2015 Outlook for Digital Retail

Led by Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, panelists in this breakout session will discuss the significant retail developments of 2014 and predict what lies ahead for 2015. This panel should offer us perspective about where retailers should (and shouldn’t) focus, which benchmarks to factor into plans and which initiatives are on  the drawing board for the next twelve months.

We’ll also be showcasing our custom solutions including our end-to-end e-commerce solution – which address the entire e-commerce lifecycle, from site design through order fulfillment, delivery and returns – in booth #2435 in the expo hall. Hope to see you there!

  • Share/Bookmark

The Age of the Customer: Redefining “Customer Engagement”

December 18th, 2014 @ Newgistics

Forrester Research recently published a report authored by Kyle McNabb and Josh Bernoff and entitled, “The eBusiness Professional’s Blueprint for Strategy in the Age of the Customer” (September 2014). The premise of the report is how companies are redefining customer engagement and are putting customer obsession at the center of their corporate strategies. Forrester defines a customer-obsessed enterprise as one that “focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of and engagement with customers and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.”

One of the main drivers of this shift to customer-centricity is technology. Having once favored companies, technology now empowers customers who can learn all about your products, services, pricing and reputation with just a few clicks. Customers are now in the driver’s seat – they can buy anything instantly and have it delivered anywhere. And as Forrester points out, technology will be the important factor that enables organizations to create the company-wide transformation needed to meet the needs of today’s customer.

While there are many ways to approach customer centricity, we do know one thing for certain: brands across all industries are obsessed with understanding and catering to their customers. From Chico’s to the Bank of Montreal to restaurants such In-N-Out and T.G.I. Friday’s, brands in every vertical are working hard to ensure customers are at the core of their corporate strategy.

For brands looking to achieve customer-centricity, Forrester offers a four-part blueprint, which advises companies to:

1) transform the customer experience with a systematic, measurable approach;

2) accelerate your digital business future for greater agility and customer value;

3) embrace the mobile mind shift to serve customers in their moments of need; and

4) turn big data into business insights to continuously improve your efforts.

Forrester recognizes this is a tall order, which is why it will take the combined efforts of an organization’s most senior leaders. The firm advises these leaders to center on technologies that support the customer lifecycle, place a premium on software skills, and embrace modern approaches to application and solution delivery. According to the report, “Modern delivery approaches will be the de facto expectation when delivering customer-obsessed solutions.”

Is your organization prepared for the “Age of the Customer”? To obtain a copy of Forrester’s recommended blueprint, download it from the Newgistics website.

  • Share/Bookmark

Black Friday & Cyber Monday: A Tale of Two Headlines

December 1st, 2014 @ Newgistics

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two most significant days of the year for retailers, are now behind us and the trend towards digital couldn’t be clearer. The Associated Press covered both of these unofficial retail holidays in articles that likely ran in newspapers across the country, but it was especially easy to see the big picture in The Boston Globe, where both headlines appeared side-by-side in Monday’s business section.

As we alluded to a few weeks back, Black Friday has lost its luster and there are a few different reasons that this is happening. Most notably, retailers are extending promotions on both ends of the shopping seasons – they’re starting earlier and pushing right up until Christmas. On top of that, they’re offering more deals online, which is where shoppers looking for bargains will almost always do their research. In turn this will translate into many online purchases.

Recent research from comScore that shows an uptick in online shopping through the first few weeks of November validates this trend. During the first 23 days of the month, the firm says that $17.5 billion was spent online, marking an 11percent increase from the same period last year. And that’s just shopping done on desktop computers; the research doesn’t even count mobile commerce, where the future of online retail is headed.

Toys ‘R’ Us is just one retailer that exemplifies the trend of extending the season and pushing shopping online. The company is offering 11 days of online deals that began the day before Thanksgiving and includes free-shipping offers. With promotions like that, it’s no wonder cramming holiday bargains into one day – on the Friday directly following a major holiday, no less – is losing its appeal among shoppers.

The steps retailers are taking to extend the season and move more business online are smart ones, as long as they know they can handle the demand they’ll place on their e-commerce infrastructure, all the way from the first click through fulfillment, delivery and returns.

  • Share/Bookmark