07 Aug Customer expectations are the driving force behind increased warehouse automation
As the online shopping experience continues to grow ever more sophisticated, customer expectations are at an all-time high. What once was viewed as a revolutionary new online shopping experience is now a fundamental part of the buying experience. For online retailers operating in such a competitive market, it is vital to stay ahead of these technological developments to meet customer expectations, particularly in the warehouse.
Against a backdrop of a burgeoning online sales market, we wanted to explore the challenges faced by internet retailers and see how they’re dealing with these new demands. We surveyed over 100 mid-tier online retailers and found that 59% felt that meeting customer expectations is the biggest challenge they face, with delivery times, order errors and a lack of staff all adding to the pressure. Our research also revealed that many retailers are planning to increase automation in the warehouse in response to these rising customer expectations. So what else was causing concern?
Order tracking as a priority
While meeting delivery schedules is key to achieving customer satisfaction, timely delivery often isn’t enough to impress. In fact, our recent survey found that 55% of retailers believe customers are most concerned about the ability to track their order, even more so than next day delivery. As warehouse and delivery fulfilment technologies advance, the ability to track goods from dispatch to delivery is becoming more common, meaning customers can access frequent updates and arrival time estimations. Our research found that more than half of our surveyed retailers are planning to offer tracking services in the future to meet high customer expectations. By investing in an intelligent warehouse software such as imio, order information and real-time updates can be available at the click of a button.
Error and inaccuracy
While order-tracking technologies are considered a somewhat advanced feature, many retailers are still struggling to get the basics right. Having spent time browsing products, processing payment and waiting for delivery, it can be incredibly frustrating for customers to receive an incorrect order and can result in loss of trust in your brand.
Our research found that during peak periods when order volumes can rise by up to 50%, some 42% of internet retailers saw order errors increase as a result. Many retailers feel they don’t have enough staff to cope with peak demand, increasing the likelihood of error and late delivery. By automating picking and packing processes, retailers can improve accuracy and reduce error-prone manual processes. Meanwhile, employees can focus their time and effort on other value-adding activities.
Customer service should be a vital focus for competitive online retailers. The online shopping experience is now so sophisticated and convenient for customers that they can just as easily shop with your competitor if they’re less than satisfied.
With rapidly-evolving technology and skyrocketing consumer expectations to contend with, it’s perhaps not surprising that online retailers are feeling the pressure. However, by increasing automation in the warehouse, the order and delivery process can be made quicker and more efficient. 73% of online retailers believe automation will help improve customer service, and almost half of our respondents are planning to further automate in their warehouses in the next year. What’s more, introducing automation to your warehouse doesn’t need to be a hugely significant or costly operation for your business to reap the benefits.
About Conveyor Networks:
Daresbury-based Conveyor Networks is a systems integrator and solutions provider founded in 2009. Working from design and build through to servicing and maintenance, it offers retail and eCommerce businesses of all sizes, best-in-class warehouse software and automation solutions. It engineers imio software, its own modular warehouse management system and can run everything from conveyors and sortation to packing lines, fully automated processes and carrier integration.