How to Reduce RTO in eCommerce Using Kaleyra and ClickPost?
While 2001 did not quite give us Stanley Kubrick’s dream of a Space Odyssey, it did give us the slugbot, a dream machine for gardeners who needed to get rid of pests fast. For the past two decades, bots and other developed technology have been revolutionising every industry from finance to gardening, and the e-commerce logistics industry is no exception.
Any online enterprise looking to streamline its delivery processes needs to incorporate a wide variety of technologies to push ahead of the competition. ClickPost works endlessly to scope out the most advanced tech that can assure easy end-to-end fulfilment. One such area where bots have been optimizing the customer experience and reducing RTOs is communication.
Thanks to Kaleyra, a globally trusted cloud-communication service provider, e-commerce enterprises can reach all-time highs of order fulfilment by ensuring every message they send to their customer is delivered instantly, and via a channel of their choice, like SMS, voice call, or WhatsApp.
Let’s look at some of the main areas where difficulties in communication can negatively impact high RTOs, and how those can be reduced with tech.
1)Regular Shipping Updates to Customers
There’s a long drawn-out process to shipping that customers are likely to be semi-familiar with. This process (as far as customers are concerned) includes pick-up, the first mile of delivery, in-transit storage (where a package may be held at a facility near the delivery location) and then finally the actual delivery. While the stages of delivery may not be the most fascinating thing in the world, they are extremely useful when it comes to building up anticipation for the delivery in customers.
Think about the first time you hear a movie you’ve been waiting for is finally coming out. The release date is in 2022, but from the moment you hear production has begun, the eagerness to see the final product is triggered. So you’ll keep up with the news, see who the cast is, and how the production progresses. You’ll even get invested in dramas and controversy that surround the film and could potentially hamper its eventual release. Next thing you know, 2 years have passed and you’ve finally got your ticket for the movie. It may not be the greatest movie you’ve ever seen but after all of that follow up, it was worth the wait.
Online shoppers go through a similar experience in the 5-10 days after they place their order. Let’s take a look at Sneha, the modern day version of a shopaholic who spends her free time and her thumbs scrolling through the internet looking for the latest online trends that she can purchase. At the time she places an order, her excitement has peaked. Every day (in between checking social media) she flips back to your website to see if the big dot on the tracking page has moved onto the next big milestone. And every day that dot remains unmoved, her excitement slowly starts turning into irritation. Every day that passes without an update or an idea of where her order could be, she begins to question her choice and her finger hovers over the “cancel order” button.
This is why it is unimaginably important to keep customers regularly updated on where their order is, and how long it will take to reach them, even if there are delays along the way. This is where ClickPost and Kaleyra come in. The former pulls updates every hour from the courier partner websites (and sometimes pushes them every hour to provide updates). The latter then enables taking those updates and sending them to customers in the form of personalised and standardised messages.
While courier partners do have the infrastructure to send updates to customers through you, each courier partner uses its own language and terms to convey a message. One courier partner may use the term “out-for-delivery” to refer to the first mile of delivery while another may use the term to describe the last mile of delivery. So imagine you read in an article that your dream movie is “now in production”. You run straight to IMDb only to discover that it has been listed as “pre-production”. You sigh, but your hope and interest remains alive until you stumble upon a Rotten Tomatoes article that says the movie is yet to be signed on for production by the studio but is still in the process of production. Thoroughly confused at this point, you decide to look for another movie to invest your hope, interest and time in. Customers are no different. With each different message they receive that does not clearly indicate where their order is, their likelihood of losing interest in that order goes up. This is why personalised and standardised tracking updates are steadily becoming the need of the hour in logistics.
2)Update Customers in Case of Delays
There’s an age-old saying that goes “Don’t ask for permission now, ask for forgiveness later.” That does not work with online shoppers. Take that out of your head right now. At the end of the day, all online shoppers are impatient and they just want to know that their order is coming to them in one piece (or how many ever pieces it’s supposed to be in).
There may be a temptation to just sit quietly on delayed or stuck shipments and hope the customer doesn’t notice the delay till the order is delivered at which point you’re thinking you will be off the hook. But experienced enterprises know that the customers always notice, both the prolonged delay and your unwarranted silence about the same.
Such radio silence results in only two possible outcomes and neither are good. The first is that the customer will accept the delayed delivery but will likely not be a returning customer. The second is that the customer will simply cancel the order or refuse to accept delivery, pushing up your RTO numbers.
Believe it or not, it’s actually beneficial to keep customers consistently in the know and proactively updated on the location of their order even if there are inordinate delays. It lets the customer know that you are on the ball and working to retrieve their order at the earliest. The regular delay updates can also add to customer excitement, much like news of controversy surrounding a new movie during production can pique your interest. Whether or not people liked Padmavati, the movie still made a whopping Rs.300 crores.
The basic idea is that the flow of information to customers should be regular and seamless, whether it’s good news or bad news. If the promised date of delivery in 10 days after the order has been placed, you should let the customer know as soon as you notice a shipment has been stuck in one place for too long, whether it’s day 6 of delivery or day 9. The more information you can provide about the cause of the delay, the better. ClickPost and Kaleyra’s platforms both work proactively towards ensuring this regular and seamless flow of information so customers aren’t left in the lurch.
3)Managing Failed Deliveries
NDRs are the bane of all e-commerce companies, a thorn in your side that keeps pricking you in all the worst ways. An NDR (a non-delivery report) is the update you receive after a delivery has failed. This can happen due to
- An error in the address or contact details of the customer.
- An error on the part of the delivery agent.
- The customer was unable to collect the order at the time of delivery.
- The customer refused to do so.
In any case, if an NDR is not addressed with superhuman speeds, these failed deliveries become RTOs, which is the veritable knife in your side and far more troublesome than the thorn.
So how does a human-run enterprise handle an NDR with superhuman speeds? Simple. Hire the Flash. Of course I’m kidding. Sort of. This is where tech again comes into play, more specifically, logistics intelligence platforms like ClickPost and communications platforms like Kaleyra. There is a clear 5 step process, devised by ClickPost and strengthened by Kaleyra, that an e-commerce business needs to follow to ensure that NDRs end as completed and successful deliveries.
When you receive an NDR, the clock starts ticking. And consider the customer a walking and talking live bomb. You have 36 hours to diffuse it. Literally. Our reports have shown that almost every failed delivery that is not successfully completed within 36 hours ends in cancellation and RTO. So much like the well-trained bomb squads we watch with awe on television, you need to have a perfected routine in place, the previously mentioned 5 step process that is highly dependent on quick, comprehensive and automated communications to customers and courier partners.
Receiving an immediate update from your courier partner. That means the tech used by you both needs to be able to pull and push information between you fast, on an hourly basis. Without a logistics intelligence platform, you would normally only be aware of the NDR when the customer makes a complaint or when the courier partner informs you at the end of the day. Either way, you lose a solid period of time. Using pull APIs, you are updated within an hour of the order’s status is changed to Failed.
Determine the cause of the failed delivery. That means first reaching out to the courier partner to determine what happened. Was the delivery agent unable to find the address or reach the customer? Or was the customer unable to receive the order? Kaleyra’s smart fallback mechanism allows notifying or connecting with customers via another channel if the primary mode of communication fails. For instance, if you want to notify the customer about their order coming in between 4 PM - 7 PM via SMS and book their availability, but the message doesn’t get delivered, Kaleyra immediately places a voice call to convey the information. Similarly, with Kaleyra’s robust APIs, the delivery partner can also get in touch with the customer via multiple channels in case of any queries. This massively reduces the chances of failed deliveries. Furthermore, all this information gets tracked, so you know what went wrong.
If everything else fails, communicate directly with the customer. The customer can then inform you why the delivery failed. In case it was a timing issue, you can request a new time for delivery or a correct delivery address as per the requirements. Basically get the information you need from the customer to ensure successful delivery while at the same time letting the customer know that you are working actively to get them their order.
This is an easy one. You take the information provided by the customer and hand it over to the courier partner. Prior to use of logistics and communications intelligence platforms, you would receive the NDR only hours after it occurred. You would then be able to reach out to the customer only the next day and subsequently pass on the information to the courier partner. By this point, nearly 48 hours would have passed, leaving you with yet another RTO. With the use of communication gateways and integration platforms, you can push the information to courier partners within 24 hours.
This brings us to the fifth and final step, which is keeping up with the multiple delivery re-attempts made by the courier partners. Whether it takes a second or third or fourth attempt, the goal is to successfully complete the order. You can accordingly follow the various re-attempts of the carrier and reach out to the customer each time depending on the cause of the next failed attempt. Basically, you can make use of automated communications to ensure nearly every failed delivery is converted into a successful one. And at the same time, you can assure customers that you take a proactive approach in delivering each order.
So what is all this conjecture leading up to finally and how does it help improve fulfilment? The answer is simple. By using automated and standardised logistics and communication platforms, you never have to worry about whether or not your customers are receiving regular updates or if they’ve been notified of delays. You can remain passively proactive using ClickPost to stay updated on the real-time tracking status of each order and enjoy the services of Kaleyra, which makes sure your customers are kept informed at every step in real-time.
At the end of the day, customers are excited about the products they order, and most are even willing to wait relatively long periods to receive them. But no one likes being left in the dark. Make sure your customers know that you are with them on this journey and watching every step of the way, like Gandalf the White (and not Gandalf the Grey). As your customers realise that they can rely on you for transparency and honesty, they become more inclined to accept even late orders to reward you for your proactive efforts. Because they’ve been able to share their excitements and anxieties with you. And nothing incites loyalty (even customer loyalty) like a shared experience. So every time a customer receives one of your products, they feel the same excitement they did when they first placed the order.