Retail Experiences: How to Avoid a Bad One

It’s Saturday afternoon. Your second cousin’s wedding is fast approaching, and you still don’t have a dress. Mall or couch?  It’s raining; pick the couch. Twenty minutes of surfing and an ad for a dream dress pops up on your feed. It’s sexy and cheap. You order and lean back.

Three days later the package arrives. Fingers fumble as you rip it open, just dying to feel the silky fabric in your hands. But then that vision of your slinky self crumbles as you pull out the ugliest dress you’ve seen since your third cousin’s hen party. “This is not what I ordered!” you scream. But no one hears you.


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You go back online and try to get in touch with the company — no contacts anywhere on the website. You look for instructions on returning the dress and getting your money back but all you see is a notification in fine print that return shipping fee is $65 — more than you paid for the dress! And that’s when you notice some more fine print: Allow three to four months for standard delivery; rush orders available — but not for the dress you want!

So it’s down to the mall after all! So much for that experience! Never again!

Trust is Essential

Experiences like these not only give online retail a bad rep, they’re the best way to lose customers forever,” says Rui Botelho, senior vice president of Strategic Industries at SAP Brazil. “The right solutions can give every company what they need to win customers for life.”

Botelho goes on to explain that companies should start by rethinking their business model: “Every online experience should leave the customer with the feeling they can trust the retailer, so they won’t hesitate to come back.”

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with charging a return shipping fee, but it’s not right to hide the information. There’s nothing wrong with charging extra for faster delivery, just make sure the customer understands that they may not receive the product they are ordering in time. And it’s crucial to provide an opportunity to communicate with the retailer, especially in this age of chat bots and other online interactive options.

Do the Basics

Botelho outlines the essentials for a good customer experience. It starts with a core — SAP C/4HANA — that enables the retailer to manage processes and collect data, and includes the SAP Commerce solution to transform the way the company engages with customers. “This combination enables a retailer to transform the front office into a customer-centric, data-driven business,” he says.

SAP Commerce provides omnichannel services to give the customer those key communication channels and gives the retailer a complete, robust view of the customer interactions. The data provides better insight into the customer’s needs and is integrated with back-office functions to make sure sales, marketing, and supply chain are fully aligned to deliver personalized digital commerce experiences and avoid catastrophes like sending the wrong dress.

“Being upfront goes a long way to win customer confidence. And that’s how you create lasting connections,” Botelho concludes.

The Bottom Line

Experts like Maria Morais, global industry principal in the SAP Customer Experience organization, believe that if a fashion retailer is not ready to respond to the high standards customers demand, and the business supply networks are not prepared with clear, data-driven allocation and replenishment plans at a reasonable price, it may be best to refrain from trading at a global scale, or even from advertising in multiple channels.

“Advertising can help to sell more, but if the product is not good, the retailer should invest that money in improving the product instead,” says Morais. “One disappointed customer is one that will never trust the brand again — and will sure that all their friends know about it!”

To learn more about Experiences You Can Trust, visit SAP at NRF: Retail’s Big Show.

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