No longer the domain of retailers or businesses that have tired of delivering their products in store, customers can now order products online and pick them up on the spot anywhere in the US thanks to consumer-facing technology that allows them to do so. The National Retail Federation forecasts that $47.2 billion will be spent by U.S. shoppers this holiday season online, with about 55% of that being done from home.
At home, shoppers can use mobile devices to pay using credit cards, mobile wallets or cash, or take advantage of home-delivery services. At work, shoppers may use employee in-store kiosks or smart checkout devices that feed a shopper’s credit card information directly into the register.
Customers may choose to fulfill their online purchase at a post office, where a home delivery can be arranged or picked up, or may simply opt to place the order on the retailer’s mobile app. Home delivery has been increasingly popular in retail as convenience retailers offer free shipping, responsive web pages and interactive ordering portals that provide customers with push notifications and customer service representatives.
In addition to home and office retailing, self-service ordering and delivery services are also available at hospitals, colleges and universities, supermarkets, convenience stores, hardware stores, restaurants, gas stations, and hotels. Fast-casual and off-brand restaurants are often sites for the best customer service.
“The approach being taken by many companies is to include self-service methods in their customer experience from start to finish,” explained Steve Thimmesch, U.S. Retail Director for Claissons Group of Companies, a financial advisory firm.
Customer self-service demands
Some retailers have instituted customer self-service with impressive customer service features, but Thimmesch advises that success comes with a holistic approach that encompasses customer shopping, shipping and receipt. The question for retailers: Does self-service meet customer expectations?
Do customers expect to receive their orders right away or have their items delivered? If ordering online, do customers expect to ship their orders within the same day, several days or longer? Customers often do not appreciate retail errors, if items are lost, damaged or incorrectly delivered.
Do customers give any notice before they plan to pick up an order? Most people expect to be notified 30-45 minutes before their last shift or other work day to pick up their items at an office supply store, for example.
Do customers expect the most efficient shipping and after-sales service? As stores move online and increases the use of alternative modes of delivery, high-volume orders may impact the delivery of other orders.
Now that almost everyone orders online, make sure that your business is ready to accommodate reasonable requests from your customers. Make the online ordering and delivery process as seamless as possible to avoid future complaints and unsatisfied customers.
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