If you operate an eCommerce storefront, it should come as no surprise that the online competition is fierce. New alternatives to your products could appear online instantly. It becomes imperative to your success that you maintain a favorable brand in the minds of your customers. One key factor to consider is how your technology choices impact your business from a brand perspective.
We are going to use a concept called the Customer Journey to understand this impact. In this blog, we will provide a brief overview of the Customer Journey concept and how Customer Journey mapping can be used to gain some insights into various customer personas that make up your target market demographic.
After the Customer Journey, we will go over an example of an eCommerce setup that is common among small-medium businesses. This should illustrate a few of the many benefits of leveraging out-of-the-box online Order Management Systems (OMS), specifically Kibo OMS along with Kibo eCommerce.
Brief Overview of the Customer Journey
The Customer Journey refers to all experiences an individual has with your brand, whether directly or indirectly. Customer Journey Mapping is an exercise that involves understanding the different personas your customers fit into and thinking through all the touchpoints they will have with your brand. As you see your business processes through the empathetic lens of different personas, it becomes easier to identify what experiences will be positive or negative for specific personas.
We can all relate to the experiences of discovering a new brand or product for the first time, thinking about how it satisfied all your related desires in ways that no other product in its category ever has, and making mental notes on how you will get it again in the future. Well, that is at the extreme end of a positive Customer Journey. On the other end of the spectrum, you can think of many more experiences that went entirely a different way.
The Customer Journey involves experiences like these:
- “I saw an ad for Brand X, it kind of turned me off because I love fish.”
- “This font is killing my eyes.”
- “My neighbor told me Brand X made her cousins girlfriends’ hair turn red.”
- “What a simple process. Everything I ordered arrived on time.”
- “My shipment arrived 2 days after they said it would arrive and nobody responded to my emails.”
- “No thanks. Brand X doesn’t offer it in purple.”
- “It took a few extra days to arrive, but I got notified the entire time and understand that these things happen.”
- “OMG! They charged how much in tax and handling?!”
- “Brand X made me jump through 89 hoops to do a simple return. Do yourself a favor and use Brand Y.”
- “Brand X makes it so hard to submit an order, just use Brand Y.”
- “I only use Brand X.”
This list could go on for days as we think about all the positive and negative experiences that an individual might have with your brand. As you can imagine, the Customer Journey will look different for each company and evolve over time as the business changes.
If you are new to the concept of the Customer Journey and want to learn more about how it is used, there are many useful links online that are focused on it specifically. Our intention is only to introduce the concept to better understand its part in the OMS.
Non-OMS Business eCommerce Setup: Brand X
To point out some of the benefits of this bundle, let’s loosely define a common scenario for businesses that do not have an OMS, have at least one physical sales channel and an eCommerce website.
Brand X has an off-the-shelf ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system that they use internally to manage their business. They also have an eCommerce system running in the cloud. These systems are typically developed by different vendors and the eCommerce system will have some level of integration services that allow the ERP system to provide and receive updates from the eCommerce platform and vice versa. Many of these integrations use batch processing at recurring time intervals. Depending on the level of integration between the two systems, information could be stale or sometimes invalid, resulting in limited information that customers see on the eCommerce website.
Benefit: Increased Inventory Manageability
One of the big selling features of Kibo Order Management is that it provides a unified view of all real-time inventory data across locations. Meaning, taking all your fulfillment processes, and moving them into the cloud where your eCommerce platform lives.
Think of all the benefits you get from bundling OMS with eCommerce. You can now operate your business from a single application. You will no longer have data-synchronization issues or concerns between your back-end system and your eCommerce website, or disconnected systems between your online sales orders and your backend shipping orders.
Benefit: Fulfillment Pipeline Visibility
One of the benefits you get from having your OMS bundled online with eCommerce is full visibility into your fulfillment pipeline. The system that ordered the inventory to sell is the same one used to sell it.
Let’s say you have a popular item that is low on inventory, however, there are 5,000 set to arrive the following day. You risk losing this sale as your customer will see that your items are out of stock.
In our common scenario, the backend system knows all about incoming shipments, but the eCommerce website has no visibility into them. The result in the common scenario is that you are missing an opportunity to save lost sales.
Kibo Order Management allows visibility into all real-time data across locations. It knows that you have a shipment that will resupply the stock of that product, can display that information to the user as they decide whether to buy or not, and will even allow you to make reservations against future inventory. As you can imagine, these are totally different Customer Journey experience outcomes.
Benefit: Manage Returns
Another big benefit that you get from having your OMS bundled online with eCommerce is a single system to manage returns. Nobody likes returns. The customer doesn’t enjoy them because they are often an inconvenient process to navigate through. Similarly, the business doesn’t like them because it’s an additional cost to receive them and process them into the system. Add to that the additional cost of having to manage them between your backend system and your eCommerce system.
The shipping clerk receives the shipment into the same system that notifies the customer service representative that they use to manage the return details. All done in the same system that the customer uses to stay informed on the return process. Everyone is looking at the same base information which allows the process to run smoothly.
When we use the Customer Journey Mapping exercise to evaluate the returns process under each scenario, it is easy to see the potential benefits that come from having the Order Management System.
In the classic setup, the customer is limited to mostly status updates on their return because it probably exists as one record in the eCommerce database, i.e. status is received.
In the Kibo Order Management setup, the customer can be presented with as many details as you’d care to display. They know the product was received at the return warehouse and has already been approved by the returns department. All that’s needed is final approval from the customer service representative and then a customer will receive their refund. The additional transparency provided would put the customer’s mind at ease, giving them a more favorable memory of your brand.
Having the OMS bundled with the eCommerce platform big is a step forward for eCommerce platforms that previously were only seen as a smaller projection of the real backend system used to run the business. This opens the door for more normalization of full-featured eCommerce platforms that don’t require an additional back-end system.
I should also note that having a bundled OMS does not guarantee a good Customer Journey experience. It is also true that you can provide a good Customer Journey experience without having a bundled OMS. However, the Kibo OMS can provide functionality and information out of the box that would be very expensive to get access to under the traditional eCommerce approach.
I hope you found this information interesting and/or thought provoking. If you have any questions around this blog or are interested in learning more about Kibo eCommerce + OMS, feel free to send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about XCentium by visiting our website.