Since the onset of COVID-19, consumers appear to have re-assessed their priorities when they’re shopping online. Today, consumers are expecting higher levels of authenticity, seeking out brands they can trust will deliver on promises and that also align with their own values. In fact, 52 percent of respondents from Euromonitor’s Lifestyle Survey in 2020 agreed that they only purchase from brands that they completely trust.
Engineering trust will be a key driver of both customer retention and acquisition in 2021. Therefore, it’s vital retailers are able to cultivate and strengthen the bond between brand and consumer, who can see them through these troubled waters. Here are five strategies online retailers can implement to build trust with their customers:
Offer a Personalized Online Experience
As retail adapts to social distancing and store closures, we can expect to see growth in the personal shopping experience, particularly at the premium end. This will be an opportunity for brands to connect with their customers on a deeper, personal level and understand customers’ needs, while the user benefits from having a great personalized experience that will see them wanting to revisit.
Luxury brands Burberry and Gucci are betting on personalized video consultations spurring sales, launching their own video services. This approach retains the exclusivity, excitement and individuality of the personalized service one receives in the brands' stores, and we expect it will become standardized in the online space.
Offer Convenient Delivery
Convenience is key to building trust. Therefore, in addition to offering home delivery, aim to offer buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) wherever possible. According to recent research, 79 percent of consumers say BOPIS options are very important to them. This strategy appears to have helped some e-commerce businesses weather the COVID storm. For example, BJ's Wholesale attributes much of its year-over-year 300 percent digital growth to allowing customers to pick up online orders in-store.
By offering customers extra layers of convenience, you’re more likely to secure their trust and win their business in the future.
Promising what you can’t deliver is a surefire way to destroy your customers’ trust in your brand. Therefore, have realistic order fulfillment goals and use them as a basis to improve your fulfillment service going forward.
Here’s a quick tip: implement automated forecasting features to help you gauge your shipping delivery capabilities. That way, you’ll avoid costly mistakes and unfulfilled orders. With an automated system, you can create fulfillment quotes in real time so they’re based on your actual inventory and warehouse capacity.
Automate Your Workflows
As consumers move online, vendors must process increased demand of online orders more quickly, more accurately, and in a manner which safeguards both their employees and end users.
If you’re running out of stock or shipping to the wrong addresses on a regular basis, these mishaps are often the result of ineffective workflows or human error. And the survey shows, these mistakes will not win you any favor with customers. In fact, they will quickly erode their trust in your brand and you can count out any repeat business. Furthermore, the resulting negative reviews and poor feedback may hurt future sales.
With that in mind, automation should top the wish lists for those wanting to build trust with customers. The best online retailers are using automated solutions to oversee the creation of estimates, sales orders, shipping orders, and invoices, thus avoiding human error, increasing the productivity of the operation, and ensuring happy customers.
Ask for Feedback
Customers want to feel that brands value their opinions, so asking for feedback will show you care. Send out surveys on a regular basis, have live chat or phone support available when shoppers run into issues, and ask customers to share whether your products and services have lived up to their expectations. Use feedback as a basis to improve your end-to-end service, and then communicate that back to customers as a way to further connect with them.
Want even more tips on building trust? Brightpearl has put together a checklist full of innovative ways to ramp up trust, even in tough times. You can find it here.
Derek O’Carroll is the CEO of Brightpearl, a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers with a clear mission to automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business.
Derek O'Carroll is CEO of Brightpearl, a cloud-based ERP for retailers and wholesalers. Recognized as a leading retail expert, his mantra is to deliver on Brightpearl’s mission to automate the back office for today’s merchants.
Brightpearl is a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers with a clear mission to automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business. Brightpearl’s complete back office solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehouse management and logistics.