The term “Mass individualization” was started back in the 20th century but has really come to life in the internet age; especially important within the world of eCommerce. According to Shopify Plus blog up to 78% of consumers expect personalization when they shop online.
68.8% of “Fashion” shopping carts were abandoned from April to June of 2016
In a Brick and Mortar setting, consumers connect with the store’s ambiance, the touch of a fabric, the way the color shimmers in the store’s light or more importantly the friendly communication with store staff they encounter when purchasing the item. Purchasing online often seems impersonal. Retailers spend millions of dollars each year on personalizing their websites so their customers will have a positive buying experience. They measure their success of these initiatives against their website’s shopping cart abandonment statistics.
According to a blog published by SaleCycle – 68.8% of “Fashion” shopping carts were abandoned from April to June of 2016. New initiatives are launched within the websites to meet the new goals set to reduce shopping cart abandonment. Most retailers miss the opportunity during the packaging of their customer’s order. Most people want that personal touch especially when the package arrives with the item they ordered. Alas, the opportunity in the last 100 feet of most order fulfillment lines to personalize their customers order when packaged and for retailers to view it as an extension of retailer’s websites is sadly unrealized.
Within the eComm fulfillment distribution center, “mass individualization” is performed after the product(s) ordered have been picked and arrive at the packing station. Value added service(s) or VAS is the term used to add extra items either ordered by the customer or extras that marketing wants to include inside the package. These items may include; coupons, gift cards catalogs, membership cards, cross industry marketing items, celebration cards and …more.
To offset cost, VAS can be a chargeable service but here’s the problem; each item is also a task or operator transaction that takes time, impacting order throughput especially for time sensitive orders which may cause delays for target delivery to the customer.
The questions retailers need to ask today is how can eCommerce orders be processed faster through the VAS process. How can Value be added to each order without slowing the packaging of orders significantly or increasing the cost considerably?
Cross Promotion Opportunity
An apparel brand may partner with a nutritional food company for a cross promotion opportunity. For example an active wear retailer initiates a promotion with a power bars/drinks retailer. Samples and /or coupons are packaged with each retailer’s orders.
Typically, more people are added to fulfill VAS related task or semi-automatic equipment is utilized. Until now, there has never been a fully synchronized solution that can easily be integrated into current operations to fully automate the VAS process.
If your operation includes picking in waves, the Rapid Sort-N-Pak will increase packing station processing velocity, reduce labor and increase order accuracy. Rapid Sort-N-Pak will also speed up VAS processes. The dynamic Put-to-Light wall will direct an operator to place the products of a multi-item order into a slot.
When the order is complete, the products are dropped down and placed into a floating tray on a conveyor that will take that specific order to various stations, including automatically inserting the packing slip, other print on demand documents and move forward to a bagger operator who will insert the order into a ready-made bag that once processed, a shipping label will automatically be applied and then conveyed to the shipping area sorter. Prior to the order arriving at the bagger, additional personalized collateral items can also be automatically inserted into the tray.
Gift cards and personalized coupons can even be scanned and activated automatically. The order is now complete, with the correct product(s) and the personalized VAS items.
The Sort-N-Pak light directed dynamic put wall takes a photograph of each item placed into each slot. These photos can be printed with the packing slip and/or stored for upload to the CRM and can even be shown to the customer on the web or included within the shipping notification email sent to keep the customer excited about their purchase. In here lies the opportunity to further promote accessories or other related merchandise.
The shipping notification email can include a photo of the item they ordered and is being shipped, the in transit status of their order and also a coupon or picture of an item that would complement their purchase. The marketing power of the personal touch can influence future purchases.
It must be mentioned, reasons for products returns purchased through eCommerce is often attributed to the order not being correct, wrong size or taking too long to be delivered. Impulse purchases have a higher return rate if it not delivered in a timely manner. “Apparel customers are 15X more likely to return an item (Apparel) compared to other segments”. Shopify – Blog Author, Nick Winkler.
Retailers are striving to reduce returns by connecting with their customers. Shopify suggests in their “how to reduce your return rate…” blog that retailers can “Inject fun into the buying process with quizzes, humor and gamification to emphasize sensory experiences beyond touch and improve conversions”. Extending this beyond the website to including personalized and “fun” items during the packaging of customers’ orders will further support the personal touch of your customers buying experience and contribute to the minimization of returns.
E-Tailers do not have the ability to sit down and have a coffee with their customers. The next best personal experience for their customers could be to include a small token gift, perhaps a cup of java on you. It could just be the start of a long and rewarding relationship with profitable benefits.
Contact us to learn how we can help with your eCommerce distribution strategy.