By Matthew Robertson, Co-CEO of NetDespatch.
We are living in an era of e-commerce instant gratification. Not meaning to again pillage that most frequently referenced and at times derided generation, but millennials and their demand for 'right here, right now' are very much driving and shaping the future of retail.
As a point of reference, our 2016 research - The Tipping Point: Parcel Delivery – clearly demonstrates this generations' expectation for commerce without compromise and their inherent need to be able to order all kinds of goods and have these orders available to them almost immediately.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are currently aged between 20 and 35 and make up about 20% of the UK's population. While this generation has garnered a somewhat negative reputation, often labelled as demanding digital natives with increasingly high expectations, millennials now represents a large proportion of our working population.
Today, global ecommerce is growing at such a rate that the logistics and retailing industry is struggling to keep up. Online retail sales in the UK topped £133 billion in 2016 and, as the millennial generation continues to demand instant gratification, business success for both retailers and carriers will depend on how efficiently, economically and quickly they can deliver a joined-up ecommerce strategy.
At this year's Internet Retailing Expo where I was fortunate enough to rub shoulders with some of the industry's most creative and innovative minds, there were a number of keynotes around how SME organisations can grow their online business and master the 'culture of click and expect'. As an organisation that works with both blue chip ecommerce partners and challenger brand SMBs we feel well placed to help organisations address the challenges often associated with selling online.
One of the key issues in ecommerce today is the fact that it is highly fragmented. Despite an understanding that a unified, connected customer experience is central to an organisation's success, behind the finely manicured retail web pages and glossy pixelated images aimed at garnering the attention of those 20 to 30-something digital natives there is often a patchwork of legacy technology platforms, unreliable data, and a lack of a joined-up approach to clicking, picking and packing orders.
The reason for this is that many bricks-and-mortar retailers that moved online up to a decade ago have a series of legacy systems involving multiple partners and suppliers. As a result the data they have may not be clean, their stock may not be managed as intelligently as it could be, and their fulfilment probably doesn't function seamlessly due to the many gaps in the systems they operate.
In ecommerce, we're all looking to turn our buyers into repeat buyers. Our pre-eminent goal is to create a seamless and contextual shopping experiences effortlessly across all channels. The first order someone places with you is about testing you out. Customers want to see if they can trust you - so you really must do a good job with the first online order.
That means you must deliver on your promise. The goods must be delivered in one piece, on time, with all the right things in the parcel, and that's just the minimum required. If things go wrong you need to be awesome at resolving the issue, which is also a great opportunity to build trust. If you really want to get the next order you then need to do a bit more. Put a clear call to action into that parcel to ask for the next order, and wow the customer as well.
The ultimate goal is to create a well-oiled, end-to-end ecommerce offering with no gaps, one that elevates the brand, controls and monitors customer journeys, while managing data at every point in the buying process – in fact, a digital retail ecosystem that accurately mirrors the analogue retail world and also goes that step further. We're working with businesses to try and achieve this goal and make the ecommerce experience as seamless as possible to meet the ever growing consumer demands.