Procurement 11 September 2015

Why home businesses have to think big when it comes to customer fulfilment

Founder of shipping app Weengs Greg Zontanos,  with business partner Alex Christodoulou
Founder of shipping app Weengs Greg Zontanos, with business partner Alex Christodoulou
The CEO of shipping app Weengs shares how to make sure you can keep customers happy from an early stage.

Whether it’s John Lewis charging for its click-and-collect service or Amazon calling for delivery drones, there’s not a week that goes by without some large brand’s fulfilment solutions comingunder public scrutiny, or conversely going the extra mile and then some for their consumers. With an incredible half of UK adults reporting problems with online orders the vast majority of these being poor delivery experiences, according to research from retail software company, JDA it’s easy to see why this might be the case.

However, repeat custom with a retailer is often dependent on the efficiency and reliability of their final mile or how they get a good into the hands of their customer. And if you think consumers will be more forgiving towards home or micro business just starting up from their kitchen tables, think again. A survey by consumer group Which? revealed that Amazon and eBay were the most frequently mentioned online retailers that shoppers had problems with platforms where many small businesses first spread their wings.

it’s therefore vital that businesses, no matter how small, who are looking to scale up their operations and grow their customer base integrate fulfilment into the very fabric of their model from the outset it cannot be a second thought bolted on further down the line.

This does of course mean, first and foremost, providing customers with choice be that next-day, nominated day, weekend or even same-day delivery to prove that you’re dedicated to making the experience as seamless and convenient for them as possible, as opposed to bending to the will and schedules of your delivery partners (or post office opening times).

Subsidised or free delivery options are also one of the key ways to stop shoppers from abandoning their shopping carts and to nurture loyalty. That doesnt necessarily mean absorbing the costs every time you can manage your spend by encouraging larger orders with minimum thresholds, sticking to certain products with higher margins or only offering reductions on specific delivery methods.

Something that is often overlooked by smaller retailers is also the value of offering free returns. Incorporating reverse logistics into your business operations and processing returned goods can prove sometimes challenging, but it also presents a huge opportunity to increase margins. In fact, our own research at Weengs recently revealed that 76 per cent of online shoppers are more likely to spend, if not exclusively, with retailers that offer free returns. What’s more, our study also found that the average spend with an online retailer that offers free returns is on par with the high street where consumers would be able to test their purchases first and almost double that of digital businesses that don’t.