By Vishal Desai, Country Head, Anchanto Malaysia
E-commerce is the current retail rage and Malaysia is right in the thick of it, as this thriving market is paving the way for a massive competition amongst brands, retailers and sellers.
To cut through the competition to reach digital savvy shoppers and scoop the biggest profit share for themselves, e-commerce businesses in Malaysia are improvising newer methodologies and processes.
However, much of these efforts are focused on the early stages of the buyer’s decision process. What is often underemphasised is the post-purchase stage, whereby a customer assesses their satisfaction over a purchase.
The post-purchase experience ensures that the relation between the retailer and the buyer does not end at checkout, and the retailer continues to impart delight for a long time after that.
The post-purchase stage is extremely vital as it is the primary driver behind for garnering repeat customers, in addition to generating more positive testimonials and referrals.
Yet, many retailers still largely focus on getting the all-so important clicks to make a purchase, and still don’t do enough for acquiring customer loyalty after that. This is especially when it comes to the items reaching their doorstep and afterwards.
The challenge to deliver the best post-purchase experience
A fundamental pain point faced by Malaysian e-commerce shoppers involves the status of deliveries; be it in delivery times and being regularly updated of them. Although this has been a general problem across Southeast Asia, Malaysia has faced the brunt of the problem, with the average waiting time being nearly six days.
Often, this has led to late deliveries, which are then compounded with a lack of communication from the retailer. Hence, digitisation is the key to overcome all these shortcomings.
This may come as a bit of a surprise with the host of digital tools now available that help e-commerce operators keep track of their deliveries. Indeed, Malaysia’s digital maturity is amongst the highest in Asia, yet many businesses are still ‘digital followers’; they make very few digital investments and are only tentatively starting to make digitisation plans.
Also, businesses that wish to digitise their processes often fall behind due to the high costs associated with developing the technology in-house.
This highlights that many businesses are fully yet to leverage technologies for their operations, making it harder for them to fulfil customer demands with more agility.
For e-commerce players, this would mean the lack of a digital mindset needed to improve post-purchase engagement areas such as deliveries, fulfilment and even the return/refund experience.
Yet, Malaysian consumers have raised their savviness when shopping online and are thus more discerning of where they would spend their money.
It is therefore no longer enough for merchants to provide lower prices as an acceptable trade-off, as consumers would be less price-sensitive if it helps them avoid headaches.
Distinguishing your post-purchase experience
- Make your engagements more proactive
In most cases, people like go-getters. This is more important for retailers as customers are now more able to track their deliveries via a variety of devices – which they are likely to spend a lot of time on throughout the day.
It is thus important to always communicate with customers to determine expected delivery times and whether there will be any potential bumps along the road (i.e. factors relating to logistics and inventory which sometimes may be out of the merchant’s control).
This helps the brands to meet the buyer’s expectation and increase the likelihood of customer experience.
- Use tech that optimises logistics, inventory and fulfilment
E-commerce management in Asia is a complex affair due to the distinct shopping behaviour of ‘browse-and-buy’ rather than ‘search-and-buy’. This particular trend in Asia has encouraged brands and retailers to be present on as many online channels as possible.
While the benefit is cornering multiple market corners to catch the shoppers’ eyeballs, the difficulty would then be the retailers managing the operations on multiple platforms. Improper management could then lead to an overlap in inventory, which could then affect delivery times.
Instead, if the retailers invest in intuitive digitisation tools, it will enable them for active and informed role of business along with transparent operations.
With an option of managing and maintaining multiple processes in an automated platform that integrates the e-commerce system will minimise fragmented selling experience for the customers as well.
Of course, some retailers can go the route of providing a ‘click-and-collect’ option, which allows the buyer to pick it up at a physical store or at distribution partners like convenience stores.
However, this can only really be done if the merchant actually has a physical retail option. Also, if they were to work with a partner, they would still need to settle the logistics of getting the items there.
Another way to keep the customer happy during delivery waiting times is to provide them with regular updates through mobile notifications instead of emails – especially since phones are becoming today’s dominant internet and communication touchpoint, which can easily be possible if the merchant has some automated system.
Today, even enterprises businesses are leveraging chat apps such as WhatsApp to keep their customers in the loop as they present quicker and more direct impact to ensure the fulfilment of an order.
- Leverage the right combination of technology, integrations and partnerships
E-commerce technology solutions may come in a variety of forms, however it is always best to know where to invest your resources and not go crazy about getting tech to manage everything.
Indeed, it is attractive to use software – such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions – that help streamline the entirety of your backend operations. Yet, if all you need is something to help you keep track of your inventory and delivery on different platforms, begin with solutions that give you just that.
However, using the right tech is just a single part of winning the e-commerce landscape – be it in Malaysia or in greater Southeast Asia. To secure quick wins and expand your foothold effectively, you will need to have crucial integrations and key partnerships in place to achieve the desired outcome.
Therefore, apart from just being hasty about choosing a digitised tool, understanding the business needs and likewise matching the right system is also a significant decision that the seller needs to make.
Being available everywhere
There is no illusion between who wears the trousers in today’s supplier-customer relationship. If you do not provide what the customer wants, the customer goes elsewhere. This is already being realised by businesses across the region as there’s intense talk of adopting Direct to Consumer (D2C) amongst brands, that wish to own their customer experience themselves, instead of leaving it in the hands of eDistributors.
This allows brands to build a relationship with their customers, so that they can make better products and become more customer centric.
The takeaway is simple; once you have managed to impart a stellar post-purchase experience by delivering the right product to the right person at the right time, the likelihood of repeat customers and them making referrals to your store will rise. This then entails the greater challenge of handling larger numbers of orders.
If so, this is when you can start thinking of investing into more sophisticated SaaS products to manage your operations as per your business needs; so that you can take a backseat on more tedious and complex backend operations. You’ll then have more time to focus on adding value, such as ensuring the delivery of higher quality post-purchase experiences.