As international shipping improves, the European B2C market quickly becomes a viable segment for your business. To attract European customers in a competitive market place, e-tailers need to implement best-practice customer service models. By optimizing these customer service models, you will increase website traffic, streamline fulfillment, and reduce shipping time and cost. An e-tailer’s website, supply chain, and shipping are three key areas an e-commerce site can improve its customer service to serve its growing European B2C market.
Website Optimization for European Customers
Customer service begins with an intuitive, well organized, and searchable website. But to expand to a more global B2C model, your website needs to reflect its global customers.
Build a Simple and Intuitive Design
User interface and experience is a crucial customer service model to grow website traffic and reduce bounce rates. If a customer has trouble navigating the site or can’t find desired products or services quickly, it leads to poor customer experience and lost sales. For medium to large e-commerce sites, navigation and search capability must be seamless across all device platforms.
When factoring in international B2C, particularly in Europe, you need to be mindful of Nielsen Norman Group’s (NNG) research on International User Experience. They found, “Customers struggled with language, dates, addresses, pricing, availability and delivery options when shopping on websites outside their country. Companies could stop losing overseas business by implementing some quick solutions to many of these usability issues.”
To better serve your European customers, you can localize your website and customer support.
Design to Address Language Barriers
Using localization services, e-tailers should offer a multilingual site. Many of the Top 500 e-commerce sites offer different global location points as an entryway into their website. Allowing the customer to select the region closest to their home country and language creates a welcoming environment where they will feel comfortable. Localization services provide a seamless transition of your website’s content to fit your visitor’s language and culture. By building cultural flexibility into the site, you will convert more of your international traffic into sales. This trend is growing in popularity as shipping becomes more ubiquitous and eventually will become an industry standard.
Reduce Load Time
Webpages that takes too long to load become lost sales. In a culture of on-demand, webpages that load slower than three seconds can lose 40% of their traffic for medium to large e-commerce sites. And this holds true for European B2C. Effective ways to reduce load time include:
- Reduce the number of images on a page
- Optimizing and Compressing Images and files
- Minimizing HTTP Requests
- Utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN) or a CDN Service Provider
- Take advantage of Browser Caching
By lowering load time, your bounce rate will decrease. For European B2C, a CDN reduces load time significantly because CDNs are located closer to your international customers. CDNs speed up load times for e-commerce sites with high traffic volume, which helps with conversion.
Properly Manage Inventory and Out of Stock Expectations
Properly managed inventory should be a no brainer but can prove a difficult task for medium to large e-commerce websites. Using an Inventory Synchronization tool, e-tailers can manage and inform their customers of real-time inventory numbers, which helps to manage customer expectations. Taking a proactive role in showing low inventory numbers can increase sales and improve supply chain flow.
Another successful customer service model is to offer a proactive approach to Out of Stock inventory. Setting clear and achievable back-order dates or sending an email notification for when the item is back in inventory will manage customer expectations. This can also help you with understanding product demand and growing your mailing list. For European customers, who often have longer delivery times, it will keep them informed and excited about your products.
Ensure Privacy And Security
With the tremendous growth of e-commerce comes the growth of security attacks. Ecommerce sites are hot targets for hackers. Unfortunately, breaches in security can devastate your business’ reputation and sales. To safeguard your website, implement a multi-layered security solution that includes firewalls, VPNs, and purging useless customer data regularly.
Parcll Delivery makes Cross-Border B2C Shipping simple and easy. Learn more about our International Parcel Direct Service.
Related Link: E-commerce Pain Points and Ways to Overcome Them
Supply Chain Optimization for European Customers
For e-commerce, your supply chain is critical from a customer service perspective. Order accuracy, supply, and fulfillment need to be flashpoints of efficiency and transparency to the customer. When optimized, retailers can reduce ship rates and costs, eliminate import/export taxes for customers, and hopefully reduce costs. By informing the customer throughout the fulfillment process, your customers will be satisfied with their purchase. This also helps manage the customer’s expectations when problems or issues arise during the process.
Strive for Order Accuracy
Because shipping costs are higher in Europe, making sure orders are accurate will alleviate customer service issues and reduce reshipments due to order error. For medium to large businesses, using an automated online order fulfillment application or service will increase order accuracy and eliminate human error.
Find Gaps to Maximize Efficiency
You need to find gaps in your order management process to improve supply chain efficiency for better customer service to your European market. When you can address these gaps, you can manage inventory levels, source better, and negotiate better rates with manufacturers. Also, reducing the number of wrong products shipped is critical. Botched European B2C orders can destroy margins and brand satisfaction. A Huffington Post study on e-commerce customer experience found, “66% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service.” Efficiency in order fulfillment and then timely delivery will mitigate this issue.
Shipping & Delivery Optimization
According to MIT Sloan Management Review, “The results demonstrated that customers’ perceptions of quality and satisfaction with online purchases depend upon three things: interaction with the website, delivery of the product, and how prepared retailers are to address problems when they occur. Of the three, product delivery has the strongest influence on customers’ satisfaction and future purchase intentions.”
Shipping internationally and specifically to Europe means longer ship times and higher costs. In an environment where customers expect free 2-day shipping, e-tailers must manage expectations upfront with their European customers. When informed, most customers will still purchase even when there is a shipping fee or longer delivery time.
Offer Clear Rates
By stating clear shipping costs to international customers, they can prepare for the added cost when they go to their shopping cart. There are a couple of ways e-tailers can do this. You can use a shipping calculator that customizes to the cost depending on the customer’s location. Or you can set standard rates for different international zones. These rates can vary depending on the international carrier you use. Unfortunately, these rates can change significantly between neighboring countries.
To eliminate surprise cross-border shipping costs, medium to large e-commerce businesses should look beyond big-name carriers. Parcll Delivery offers excellent industry-leading processing, transit, and delivery from its US Hubs to your European customers. Parcll also guarantees zero tax collection hassles for their customers by clearing their parcels upfront through their B2C Clearance Hubs.
Meet Delivery Time Expectations
After negotiating the best ship rates for international customers, e-tailers need to manage delivery time expectations by padding delivery time. By padding an extra day or two, you have fudge room for unexpected shipping delays and can deliver early to exceed customer expectations when the shipping goes smoothly. Parcll Delivery operates a dedicated DDP shipping solution for eCommerce which allows Online Sellers to reach their international consumers within 3-10 business days for major destinations such as the UK, Germany, France, etc. Keep in mind, more remote locations may take longer.
Ensure Good Condition of Shipment
Proper packaging and reducing shipping costs can be a trick for European B2C shipping. Many shipping carriers offer different options to maintain shipping quality. Parcll Delivery is structured to service high volume orders that can be consolidated into bulk packaging if needs be to maintain quality and reduce damage to packages.
Want no surprise fees on low shipping rates to European B2C customers? Contact Parcll Delivery for a customized quote.
Related Link: Hacks for Saving on Shipping Costs
Addressing Returns and Customer Dissatisfaction from European B2C
For an American retailer, dealing with returns and/or customer dissatisfaction from European customers can be a costly pain. In some cases, it is even cheaper to send the customer a new product then deal with the cost and hassle of the returned product. But that comes at a big expense to you and can wipe out margins. Here are some best practices for managing customer problems and returns.
Manage Expectations with Clearly-Stated Shipping Policies & Procedures
To preempt unrealistic expectations for international customers, clearly stated shipping policies and procedures should be easy to find, are highlighted, and should be a part of the order process. A clearly defined shipping policy should include when and how products can and can’t be group shipped internationally. Clear policies reap brand reliability and increased conversion rates.
Offer 24-hour & Live Person Support
Offering 24-hour and live person support can be costly when setting up follow-the-sun models to support international markets. But investing in quality customer support will increase customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. The live-person support whether it is through email, chat, or phone service communicates to the customer that you care about them and their overall satisfaction. Setting a support center in Europe or outsourcing to a European support center can provide the optimal support you need.
Offering 24-hour support can be difficult, but you can offer a hybrid customer support system to address international customers. Automation and bots can help with off-hour support. Bots are a great solution for multilingual customers because they can be built with localization. Automation can also be set up as a tiered approach for urgent problems that get immediate help versus problems that can be solved during business hours the next day—thus reducing the number of live people you need to have on staff during off-hours.
Use an E-commerce CRM
Whether you’re a medium to large e-tailer, using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool becomes increasingly valuable, especially with international customers. A CRM allows you to manage the expectations of the customer based on their previous experiences in a localized way that addresses concerns and proactively communicates with the customer.
Implement these Customer Service Models to Grow Your B2C E-commerce
By optimizing the website, supply chain, and shipping to meet quality customer service models, you will be able to expand their European B2C market into a thriving segment of your business. Focused on best practice customer care and efficient order fulfillment, medium to large e-commerce sites will be able to reduce costs and improve shipping rates to retain and grow their customer base. Parcll is the largest multi-carrier B2C Delivery Network in Europe offering a turnkey solution for fast, economical cross-border B2C shipping.
Need a flexible, cost-effective, cross-border shipping solution that can be customized to meet the needs of your growing B2C European market? Contact Parcll Delivery to improve delivery time while reducing costs.
Related Link: 11 E-tailer Customer Service Strategies that Really Work