The booming e-commerce market in Southeast Asia is no secret. There are more than 250 million smartphone users in the region. Southeast Asia’s online retail penetration level is 3% , And this presents an immense opportunity.
The revenue from e-commerce businesses in 2018 alone was $3544million in Thailand . The market volume is expected to touch $5844 million by 2022.
The shoppers in South-east Asia frequent a large number of online sites. Out of the 150 million digital consumers in the region, two-thirds already shop online. In Indonesia, this figure is at 51 million. With the mounting level of competition, this is the time for e-commerce companies to go big or go home.
A lot of consumers in SEA express distrust at being unable to touch, feel and examine products before they purchase it. So, the biggest opportunity for e-commerce companies to make a mark and create loyalty and stickiness is to make the delivery experience seamless.
E-commerce’s trump card
For an e-commerce company to make a mark and create stickiness, an efficient logistics system is inevitable. The entire process – warehousing, inventory management, delivery, handling returns, COD orders, invoicing and customer communication must be made seamless and efficient.
Creating brand loyalty and stickiness
What happens once a customer places an order on the site/app is the real brand experience for the end user. The manner in which their order is handled and delivered decides if they will come back or go away with a bad taste in their mouth, never to return.
Automated customer communication
When a customer places an order on a website or an app, they are not privy to what happens behind the scenes. All that matters for them is a smooth ordering and delivery experience. With the former out of the way, it is the onus of the logistics company to take care of the latter. Despite transparent delivery timelines, customers are impatient to get their goods, and rightly so! Cloud telephony helps in bridging this communication gap.
Here are a few of the solutions we implement for some of the top e-commerce companies in Southeast Asia:
1. Reducing the first-attempt delivery failures and cash on delivery (COD) returns
Companies report losses in the range of 18-40% due to customer no-shows. This can be tackled by automated calls/SMS that can be sent to the customer before a day of the delivery. In case the customer is not available to pick up the order, they can be asked to give a missed call to a particular number in order to reschedule the delivery.
One of the biggest sources of loss for e-commerce companies is failed COD orders. Cash on delivery orders usually fail due to three reasons:
- customers refusing to pay for the order
- bogus orders
- customers not being available to pay for the order.
While we can’t do much about the first above-mentioned reason, we can bear control over the next two to a large extent.
a. Automated calls to confirm COD orders: When a customer places a cash on delivery order
on the website, an automated call is made to them verifying that they have indeed placed
the order. The order is dispatched only after the customer explicitly confirms that they have
placed the order for certain.
b. Notification before delivery: An automated call or SMS notification sent to the customer
right before the delivery with an expected time and date helps brands to reduce customers
not being available to pay for the orders.
How does this help e-commerce companies?
After implementing these solutions using Exotel, our customers have noticed:
- 32% improvement in first attempt delivery rates
- 22% improvement in on-time delivery for COD orders
- Improved delivery rates in spite of no investment in manual efforts
- The creation of a single source of truth due to integration with CRM, inventory management
2. Improving visibility on last mile deliveries
Many logistics companies keep track of their order deliveries the traditional way with a pen and paper (sign off after every delivery). At the end of the day, the delivery agents update the order status summary which is then collated and passed on to the customer.
However, some logistics companies are moving away from the “sign off” system and have a custom app devised for their business. This app runs on a handheld or a mobile phone, on which the delivery personnel updates the order status. This data is then collated by the team monitoring the deliveries at the office. This is not very different from the “sign off” system. The data is still collated only at the end of the day. Here are some of the biggest challenges that 3PL companies continue to face nevertheless:
a. Dispute resolution and proof of communication – When you use cloud telephony for the communication between your personnel and customers, all the conversations are recorded. You can lay down processes to ensure that failed deliveries or returns do not happen due to lack of communication between them.
b. Real-time order tracking during delivery – With cloud telephony, real-time order tracking can be done without depending on (possibly) patchy mobile data. This results not only in significant inventory management across the supply chain, but also with dispute resolution.
This is how it works:
The delivery personnel dials into a specially assigned number with an IVR that will assist them in updating the order status. This data is then synced with the CRM of the logistics company, thereby updating the order status in real-time using just a simple phone call.
c. Easier reimbursements – Since all the calls are routed via cloud telephony, there is no need to reimburse the delivery personnel for all their calls. Only the calls that are routed using 2-3 numbers (virtual numbers) can be compensated.
How this helps e-commerce companies:
Our customers have reported that after implementing Exotel:
- 31% decrease in the turnaround time for the resolution of tickets related to delivery issues
- 28% reduction in telephony expenses
- 96% handset delivery rate for SMS
- 12% improvement in on-time delivery rates
3. Improving the customer experience
According to a survey, 65% customers say that it makes them uncomfortable to share their mobile phone numbers with a business. These concerns are valid because often, sharing a number with a business means that it in turn gets shared with a bunch of other vendors and third party personnel they work with.
a. Number anonymisation – Number anonymisation or number masking, as it is called is a simple way to protect your customers’ identities. All customer calls via Exotel can be routed without revealing either party’s phone numbers.
b. Easy customer verification process – Authenticating customer information especially when your users are shopping using an app is important. The current verification process in most cases involves a one time password (OTP) that is sent via email. This is a long and laborious process. Our nOTP solution which is available as an SDK for android phones is a resourceful
alternative to verify users. It works on a seamless verification process without any intervention from the user’s end.
What is in this for an e-commerce business:
- 100% protection of customer privacy
- better brand image
- pay only for verified users
For an industry that is so labour intensive, spending time and effort improving operational efficiency makes complete sense. Technology assists e-commerce companies in devising standard operating procedures that save them both time and money. Cloud telephony is just the tailor-made solution that e-commerce companies are waiting for to resolve the challenges faced by their ops teams.
Exotel will be exhibiting at Seamless Thailand 2018 taking place on February 5-6 2018. Come visit us at Stand 6 and find out more about how we can help your business. For more information on Seamless Thailand, visit the web site .