Over the last 20 years, PHL has gained valuable experience working with companies of all sizes. From start-ups like Nimble Baby, through to big brands such as Peperami, Whirlpool and Ella’s Kitchen, we have managed both their marketing campaigns and online shops.
This know-how helps PHL understand how to help online businesses grow, not only through our order fulfilment expertise but also our understanding of the importance of upholding brand promises throughout the fulfilment process.
“At its core, your brand promise should define your entire business and should touch every aspect of your company.” – Nick Westergaard, Author of “Get Scrappy”
Online retailers need to maintain their brand promise through the fulfilment and delivery process to provide customers with an end-to-end experience that is consistent and meets both their practical and emotional needs.
To start with, make sure brand promise is clear and relevant.
It might sound obvious, but it’s always a good idea to review what you think you are offering to consumers vs what consumers want and need. During the COVID-19 Crisis, some retailers have come under fire for not considering the emotional needs of their consumers. It is crucial to balance the practical needs, i.e. product, price and availability with emotional needs, i.e. ethical values, and environmental sustainability.
Get the Basics Right.
For online retailers, this is the most critical brand promise. Make sure you deliver the basics. Customers expect an easy to use, prompt and people-friendly service.
The basics will include an integrated website, excellent stock availability and scalable fulfilment solutions. For more details on getting the basics right read our article: https://promotionalhandling.co.uk/top-10-fulfilment-tips-to-grow-your-online-business-in-2020/
However, there are some aspects of the fulfilment process that have a more significant impact. These are the touchpoints between the business and the consumer. It is in these spaces that an online retailer can rise above being just another product or service, transcending into a trusted and loved brand that customers will come back to time and time again.
The Power of Packaging.
Packaging is a fantastic tool for online retailers to communicate their values, engage with customers and make a memorable brand experience. It is the first tactile experience consumers will have with a brand, in the absence of a physical shop.
Good outer packaging needs to be robust enough that it performs its primary function of protection during transit. But great packaging includes branding, messaging, and visuals that communicate your promise and values—making the brand memorable and set-apart in the consumer’s mind.
Your packaging is essential to communicate brand promises like sustainability and environmental sustainability, so make sure it is compatible with these values and that you do not fall into the trap of virtue signalling.
Case Study: Ella’s Kitchen – “Our mission is to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food. What started as a promise between a dad and his daughter continues to be our driving force; it’s why we’re in business.“
When setting up an online store with Ella’s Kitchen, PHL helped create packaging that reinforced the brand mission. Keeping in mind their demographic and the brand’s ethics regarding sustainability, Ella’s wanted to place the child at the centre of the fulfilment and delivery process. We helped create three fun packaging designs which encouraged families to turn used boxes into trains, rockets, or castles. They also added an option for consumers to personalise their box for free at the checkout, by adding their child’s name on the box. This packaging created such a memorable experience for consumers that it became a focal point for conversation across digital and social media.
As with the outer packaging, the inner packaging is essential to help convey brand promise. It can tell your consumers about how much you care. Products should be clean and neatly presented upon opening the box. Items can be gift wrap and “Thank you” messages included if this is relevant or suitable to your brand. Include gifts, free samples, and discounts as a delightful surprise for customers. Rewards help reinforce a positive emotional relationship with a brand.
Delivery & Returns.
One of the most influential aspects of boosting online sales is the delivery experience.
Three-quarters of people are more likely to reuse an online retailer if they are happy with the delivery – the most critical factor – according to E-Marketer. Furthermore, research from Ecommerce Nation found that 37% of online shoppers, if dissatisfied with a delivery experience, will never use the same online retailer again.
It is essential to ensure that you choose a fulfilment and delivery solution that can meet customer expectation. Avoid damage to your brand through a mismatch between what you promise consumers and what you deliver.
Alerts and Notifications – keep consumers up to date with the progress of their order and delivery status. Make sure the notifications are fully integrated, from placing an order online through to the physical delivery. The tone and frequency of these notifications can be tailored to ensure consistency with brand messaging for streamlined communication.
Delivery Options – Normally, we advise our clients to let their customers decide how quickly they require an order and how much they are willing to pay. However, if you are offering a premium product, the delivery service needs to reflect this, or it will seem at odds with your brand promise. Similarly, sustainable brands might consider using couriers with “Green” credentials.
Location – aim to offer delivery to all locations within the UK (ideally at the same price points), to ensure your products are accessible to everyone and consumers don’t feel disadvantaged by where they live.
Returns – What you promise consumers will matter in every aspect of how you treat them, both pre- and post-sales. Find the right balance for your business, which allows ease of return vs cost the burden.
Experience tells us that this touchpoint is so important to consumers when considering a brand’s promise and values. Professional, friendly, and prompt customer service has always been key for successful online retailers. This is the point where you can both reinforce your brand promise or “fix” any disappointment with products, delivery, or service.
Keeping your word is vital if you promise something, make sure you deliver it. Build brand values into your customer service “tone-of-voice” and “Key Performance Indicators” to ensure that customer promises are being met. The customer service team should be the cheerleaders of your brand promise and rewarded for being proactive problem solvers that go the extra mile.
Make sure there are plenty of ways for customers to get in contact with you. Think of your target audience – older audiences are not keen on chatbots, but younger generations will happily use them, so make sure you use communication channels suitable for your audience. However, you should always make sure customers can get through to real people if they need to.
Many companies strive to put the customers first, but then fail to deliver first-class service in the most visible area.
Making a relevant brand promise and then delivering on that promise will create a positive, memorable online experience for customers. If the customer can remember your brand, you stand a better chance of repeat purchase and building a loyal base that in turn, will help boost business growth.
At every chance, keep your brand promise… over and over again
Laura is Head of Business Development at PHL Group. She became a member of the PHL Group team almost ten years ago and came from a customer service and retail background. Since joining PHL Group, she has worked her way up from an Account Manager to join our Executive Team as a key decision-maker and influencer at Board level. Laura has vast experience across both marketing and ecommerce, managing major client accounts such as Whirlpool UK, Del Monte and Urban Eat. Laura’s background gives her considerable insight into the ecommerce industry from both a sales and a logistics perspective, which she is excited to bring to the Modern Retail Editorial Board.