MarTech Thoughts | Dana von der Heide
What is the best use of technology you have seen during this time of crisis?
When my co-founder Arne and I started Parcel Perform back in 2016, we realized that many merchants were limited by the slow IT implementation of logistics carriers and an intransparent market where logistics performance metrics were not easily accessible.
Gaining visibility on your logistics operations and performance becomes even more important during this time of crisis as we’re seeing a tremendous shift towards online shopping and the growth of e-commerce. E-commerce sales are at an all-time high after the pandemic accelerated years of growth in weeks, according to a recent Shopify Plus report.
With increased e-commerce activity comes more intense competition and the need to create a loyal customer base, as acquiring the first-time buyers is expensive.
More customers shopping online while staying at home also means higher expectations.
Our clients want an intuitive shopping experience and don’t appreciate it if this shopping experience stops at checkout. We encourage merchants and their marketing departments to have a holistic view of their customer experience - factoring in potential customer touchpoints throughout the entire delivery experience.
With this in mind we launched Parcel Perform’s’ Premium Branded Tracking Pages in 2020 to help retailers deliver a branded post-purchase experience in their own corporate identity embedded in their webshop environment to gain trust from their shoppers, create customer loyalty and utilize this part of the shopping value chain for upselling. Having these elements in place changes the entire delivery experience for both the retailer’s customers and internal teams.
Seamless, on-brand customer experiences are a key competitive advantage, and brands are more likely to succeed in the global e-commerce market if they create a frictionless experience for their customers after checkout. Instead of directing customers to a generic carrier website, brands leverage our tools to keep them informed on their delivery status, on their website with an intuitive tracking page in their own branding. In the end, customers are loyal to their e-commerce brands, not their logistics carriers. Here merchants have an opportunity to provide full transparency on the delivery process to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact customer lifetime value for their business.
Beyond delivering a seamless customer experience, our tracking page is optimized for all devices. Content needs to work in all formats; displaying product & marketing information, drive upselling and cross-selling opportunities and is the perfect avenue to convert engaged traffic into returning customers.
Furthermore, the need for personalised communication goes beyond the merchant’s webshop, but includes other communication channels like delivery emails sent to the customer after checkout. Customers love their order confirmation emails, but the true winner for opening rates are ‘Out for Delivery’ Notifications; consistently attaining open rates higher than 80%. With these emails, customers can get the latest updates on their delivery status at a glance; in their preferred language and branding.
Brands that are on the forefront of this innovative approach - just like our customers Decathlon Singapore and Nespresso are not only reducing their customer service cost, they can also leverage these technologies for proactive, highly effective marketing campaigns. With our Parcel Perform Premium Branded Tracking Page, a superior digital customer experience is accessible for all. It is essential for retailers who seek to revolutionize their post-purchase experience and thrive in a crowded e-commerce landscape.
Can new partnerships help shift the mindset from a product-centric model to more customer-centric? Definitely. A customer-centric model; where companies truly put the customer at the heart of the organization will be able to differentiate from competition, and create a ‘stickiness’ with their existing clients, that positively improves Customer Lifetime Value.
Companies should aim to adapt their product roadmap to make time for proper user testing to identify the needs of their customers. Once customer needs are identified, retailers can benefit through partnerships with best-of-breed solution providers to ensure they offer the best possible solution for clients and the company in the long run.
Joining forces with complementary services and new tools to better service the customer will allow companies to scale, have a fast go-to-market and A/B test solutions to come closer to the ‘perfect experience’ for both their customers and their internal stakeholders.
With the exponential rise of technology, is there still room for offline marketing?
Yes, I believe there is still room for offline marketing. 2020 saw a significant shift towards virtual events. Using social networks like LinkedIn to both connect with potential opportunities and share relevant insights to our networks also grew in importance to communicate with people virtually.
Yet, customer touchpoints at a physical event cannot be fully replaced with digital marketing. The ability to connect with your customers through in-person meetings and having physical face-to-face human presence creates a deeper, more personal connection between people and their companies. For example, a firm handshake while making eye contact may indicate that the person is confident and immediately sets a tone for any meeting. The same goes for live presentations of our tools. However, we need to adapt to these changes and here’s where digital marketing can supplement every marketing and sales strategy.
I foresee future events and engagement models will adopt a hybrid online-offline marketing model. We’ve also started to participate and organize our own webinars for our customers and audiences to adapt to these present circumstances. However, there is no substitute for the power of genuine, physical connection. Therefore, offline marketing will be a suitable tool in every marketer’s toolbox and should be used as such even with the rise of digital marketing.
How do you connect, engage and build a persistent relationship with your customers?
For us at Parcel Perform, it is very important that both new and existing customers know that their service partners stand by their side and understand their ever-changing business needs. To create a direct connection with our customers, we assign a Key Account Manager (KAM) and a Customer Success Manager to each customer. The KAM serves as a direct point of contact between their customers and Parcel Perform. They engage our customers on a weekly basis and are strong counterparts for our clients worldwide.
On top of this personalized approach, we have a customer success team working 24/7 in shifts and are always available via live chat to ensure our global customer base knows they are supported all the time, regardless of their location or time zone.
Besides building and maintaining direct customer relationships, we established our sister community site Parcel Monitor that shares up-to-date e-commerce and logistics insights with industry professionals. This platform has enabled us to showcase insights derived from logistics data in the form of infographics and visual content. Sharing these insights regularly helped us to start conversations with people in the industry and foster close partnerships with key influencers.
Which part of the customer journey is the hardest part to capture data for?
The hardest part of the customer journey to capture data is the point after checkout. Throughout the e-commerce delivery journey, retailers have a decent view of the customer journey all the way from acquisition, engagement, and ending at the point of checkout.
You’ve got digital ads and content marketing initiatives working to attract new visitors and convert them into leads while other content features like timed offers and helpful content support to engage customers and draw them further down the funnel. From an analytics perspective, monitoring the performance of these segments of the customer journey are well-documented using tools like Google Analytics, in-house ecommerce analytics platforms like Shopify and social media analytics.
However, this clarity ends at the point after checkout. E-commerce retailers usually hand off the delivery experience to their third-party logistics providers after the orders are confirmed; each with their own way of displaying delivery updates and formatting analytics. If the e-commerce retailer does not have their own analytics platforms, they are dependent on the analytics from the logistics provider, which is subjected to their own limitations.
Data points - like number of delivery issues solved, notifications sent, and the engagement rate of the notifications - are all crucial data points for retailers to intentionally craft their post-purchase experience, engage visitors with their marketing content, and keep their customers coming back even after checkout.
What challenges do you see in processing data coming from different sources?
In the e-commerce logistics industry, logistics operations remain complex with different providers, languages, and time zones involved. Orchestrating this ecosystem of data sources is making it challenging for logistics providers and retailers to gain full transparency and ultimately keep up with customer expectations. With so many disjointed data sources coming in from different logistics carriers, warehouses and tools, data needs to be standardized according to a set number of parameters for it to be useful for interpretation and analysis by logistics teams.
We realised that there is no common global standard for parcel tracking and wanted to provide a standardized set of data for the whereabouts of deliveries that's easily understandable for everyone. Next to the missing standardization of last mile data like events, locations and time zones that Parcel Perform is solving, we are also able to bridge the gap within the internal data of our clients. Order, customer and warehouse information are usually stored in different tools but can only be fully utilized if seamlessly integrated into one tool.
Here is where our expertise on integrating disparate data sources with Parcel Perform plays a significant role. We bring together data from multiple sources: e-Commerce platforms like Magento & Shopify, customer service tools (like Zendesk & Freshteam), email marketing tools, along with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and warehousing software tools.
With Parcel Perform, we focus on providing streamlined data on the movement of goods and logistics carrier performance data while combining this data with important client and order details. With these seamless data integrations in place, retailers of all sizes can utilize this standardized data feed for a truly world-class experience after checkout.