You’ve worked with a great web agency like Eastside Co to create a fantastic UX-focused website and now you have a flurry of customers rushing to buy your latest products. All good - but what’s next?

Beyond the buy button

On an all too frequent basis, we see ecommerce businesses focusing solely on the front end of their website but at the expense of processes beyond the buy button.

These operational processes lay neglected by the wayside, which is at odds with the latest consumer industry insights, which suggest that in the world of online retail, it is the last impression that determines whether a shopper will come back to your website.

Take the graph below for example. It clearly shows that customer satisfaction declines as the lifecycle of the buying journey progresses. We call this the slippery slope of happiness.

Customers themselves are dictating that it’s what happens beyond the buy button - especially when we reach the back office operations - that is most likely to lead to frustration and a poor shopping experience.

Furthermore, a recent research project conducted by Brightpearl and Trustpilot found that 77% of 1-3 star reviews written about ecommerce businesses are a result of typical operational failures, such as:

  • Slow, delayed or late delivery
  • Items not arriving at all
  • Items being listed as ‘out of stock’ after purchase
  • A lack of delivery updates
  • Expensive and unexpected shipping costs
  • Time-consuming returns and poor refund policies

Customers are clearly calling out for fast and frictionless website experiences. They want to be able to find the perfect product, purchase it with confidence and ease, receive it on time and find it useful. If all goes well, customers - 70% of them in fact - are happy to leave a review for your business when asked.

However, if one of these areas fails, then they all do, potentially leading to frustrated shoppers and negative feedback.

With this comes increased cost for your business as you strive to get a grip on a poor reputation. This tangled web of negativity spirals out of control before - wham! - lost sales and a serious blow to your revenue forecast.

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How to improve your operational efficiency

You could have the best ecommerce site in your industry, but without the best overall customer experience to match it - from path, to purchase, to post-purchase - you’ll find it difficult to convince shoppers to keep coming back to your store.

In our recent study, just over a quarter of online shoppers said that they would change where they buy goods from based on the shopping experience; further proving the need for you to provide innovative and exemplary shopping experiences.

We believe there are four essential ingredients to the perfect shopping experience:

  1. Thorough business analysis
  2. Accurate data
  3. Best-in-class services
  4. Retail automation

Let’s dive into each of these in more detail.

1. Thorough business analysis

To get a handle on your current situation and how your customers really feel about the buying experience, you need to conduct thorough analysis into your own reviews, ratings and feedback.

This will help you identify what is causing issues and affecting your ability to retain customers - whether it’s operational processes like the ones described above or something else in addition to them.

This process can be done manually by reading through customer feedback linked to your website across review sites such as Trustpilot, Facebook, Google, Yelp and Amazon.

Alternatively - to help speed things up - you can also integrate specialist consumer review plugins, apps and services with your website. Companies like Yotpo and Feefo use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to identify trends and key themes that often result in either good or bad feedback for your company.

This enables you to quickly identify and fix pain points in the buying journey, no matter where they exist, which is key to improving brand loyalty.

2. Accurate data

Today’s consumer, especially millennials, expect a far more personalized brand experience. Although there are lots of elements to getting this right, a crucial and often forgotten one is data.

The latest and most powerful CRM technology can be used to record, store, manage and analyze customer data, which can be used to guide the business changes that create more tailored customer experiences.

In addition, systems that record both customer and product data within one single hub in real time are powerful weapons in your arsenal.

3. Best-in-class services

Getting customers to stick around for the long haul is harder than it’s ever been.

Big-Box retailers like Amazon have conditioned shoppers into expecting the very best from you -- fail that and you become at risk of your customers leaving a less-than-glowing review and avoiding your ecommerce store in the future.

Actively building brand loyalty through superior customer experience is the answer.

Services like click and collect, same-next day delivery and hassle-free returns all have the power to both convert and retain. By focusing on best-in-class services like these, you can set your business apart from the competition - and keep shoppers coming back to you time and again.

4. Retail automation

However, the ability to offer the services mentioned above, relies on your ability to save time, reduce cost and reinvest resources back into other areas of your business.

Key to this is implementing automated back office platforms like Brightpearl, which add speed and efficiency into the retail operation and allow for enhanced customer service at every touchpoint.

This will enable you to automatically update inventory levels, instantly route orders to specific warehouses, automate shipping label creation and tracking reference information and even invoice orders in real time based on a set of preconfigured rules.

When automating your operations, you’ll want to keep three key steps in mind:

Map out your current workflows. Use a tool like Lucidchart to map out your current workflows. This will help you to determine exactly how orders, returns, inventory and customer data should be managed, alongside identifying any special scenarios to consider and places where you can correct bottlenecks.

Determine your criteria and actions for each channel. This step will help you to identify how to build automation rules. Retail orders will typically be straightforward, while other channels, like wholesale, can be more complex. It’s important to understand what criteria you have for each channel and what actions should be prompted.

Set up your automation rules. With your actions and criteria defined, you’re now ready to use a tool like Brightpearl to automate your business. Systems like this make it easy to setup automation rules; you don’t need a developer and you can even select from dropdown menus to help you decide what to automate if you’re unsure. You should always test your processes in a sandbox environment to check you’ve covered every common scenario.

Final thoughts

Ecommerce is a tough nut to crack. Get it right and you will reap any number of rewards from better conversion rates to increased brand loyalty. But get it wrong and you risk becoming trapped in a messy web of negativity and a poor online reputation.

As our research has shown, it’s the operational processes beyond the buy button that have the power to make or break the customer experience. This last impression has the power over whether your customers will seek out your store for future purchases, write glowing reviews about your business or tell friends, family and social media followers about your company.

Ultimately, every customer who leaves feedback is an influencer - and every potential buyer is ready to be influenced. It’s your job to make sure those conversations are positive across the complete customer journey. By acting on the advice above and getting a handle on your operations, a positive reputation and the success that comes with it are well within your grasp.

For more advice and insights on operational processes and how they impact the customer experience, take a look at Brightpearl’s latest industry report and additional resources here.

Brightpearl is a retail operations platform for retailers and wholesalers. Our mission is clear: automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business. Our complete back office solution includes financial management, inventory and sales order management, purchasing and supplier management, CRM, fulfillment, warehouse management and logistics. In addition, the solution has high-performing connectors to the major ecommerce platforms, including Magento, BigCommerce and Shopify. Over 1,200 businesses in 26 countries use our platform and we manage over 10m transactions and $3bn of business a year.