Is it too soon in the digital transformation of ecommerce to talk about the “perfect order?”
Arthur McManus of FitForCommerce doesn’t think so. McManus, the company’s senior vice president, provider program, tells the perfect ecommerce order story. It’s a story that involves machine learning, an integrated approach to getting the job done and a broad view of the much-heralded customer experience.
I met with McManus at Shop.org, an annual coming together of retail’s digerati, where we talked about the challenges and opportunities facing online retailers today. We covered a lot of ground, but when at the beginning of our conversation he said that he wanted to talk about the perfect order, I was hooked. First, listen to the perfect order story, which McManus takes us through in the video below.
Listening to McManus talk about the perfect order, it’s pretty clear that consumers led the way on this notion. The biggest change that ecommerce has brought about is the transformation of shoppers from buyers of goods to consumers — real consumers.
Retail customers today are empowered. They consume information in the form of product descriptions, reviews and narratives describing the way products are used and the kinds of experiences they provide. They compare prices, delivery options and customer service and support.
They come to retailers knowing as much about products and options as the retailers themselves. Sometimes they come knowing more. They know how quickly a given retailer can get a product to them — and as importantly, they know how quickly a competitor can get that same product to them. In short, they know what they want and they know where, and when, they can get it.
All of which requires, yes, the perfect order.
The perfect order might start with brilliant marketing, merchandising, web design and personalization, as McManus says. But it’s more than that. It’s about what happens after an online buyer makes a purchase.
From there the order has to move and move fast, through payment processing and fraud review. The order must be directed to the right warehouse. The product ordered needs to be picked, packed, labeled, shipped and delivered.
Customer experience requires smart people and smart machines
And, of course, that’s not one order. That’s hundreds of orders or thousands or tens of thousands. Getting that job done requires smart people and smart machines. While the back end of ecommerce has lagged in adoption of artificial intelligence, that is changing.
More retailers are finding more ways to automate more aspects of more operations. The trend not only allows them to continually scale up, it also frees up humans to focus on more complex problems. All of which makes for a better experience for customers on the other side of those ecommerce orders.
This evolution is still in its early stages. Because, while it’s not too early to talk about the perfect order, we have a ways to go before every order can be described that way.
Photo by iStock
Contact Mike Cassidy at mi[email protected]; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.