by Richard McQuillin,
McQuillin & Associates Inc.
Add a simple feature to your eCommerce site to create and retain loyal customers: their auto-replenishment schedule.
Most merchants provide shopping carts for their customers.
Now you can add your customers' future shopping lists -
a specific prediction of what they'll need to replenish.
If you sell to small businesses,
think in terms of viewing their future purchase orders instead of shopping lists.
A Shopping List is a Future Shopping Cart
A customer's shopping list is their future shopping cart.
It predicts what they will buy.
Since the shopping list is created from their inventory status,
you can get this prediction for tomorrow, next week, or next month, for example.
Form Tighter Bonds With Customers
- Know how to replenish your customers' inventory.
This works for consumers and very small businesses, too.
- Know what's on your customers' shopping lists.
You also know what's going to be on them -
you have a specific forecast of future buying behavior.
- Know how customers perceive their needs.
They don't use your "categories", and each customer is different.
- Know what products are substitutes in the minds of your customers.
For each need, are they brand-sensitive? Cost-sensitive? Or something else?
- Know what they've bought from other vendors,
and how you stack up in terms of price, volume, etc.
- Make them offers they won't refuse.
Since you know in advance what they'll be needing,
you can use this to plan your own supply chain,
anticipate your customers' needs, and make offers.
- Become their long-term supplier.
Form agreements with your customers - even consumers - to fulfill all their shopping lists for the next year.
- Increase customer loyalty by providing a new type and level of service
that binds them with you.
- Reduce your costs via demand forecasting and tight customer integration.
Attract New Customers And Larger Orders
- Attract new customers who don't like the current limitations of on-line shopping.
to take over the burden and hassle for them:
And don't forget that 14% of consumers actually HATE grocery shopping, for example.
Here's a comment from a recent panel discussion on e-Commerce:
Interviewer: "What things can online retailers do to make you want to shop more?"
"Provide me with an incentive (such as discounts or free shipping)
to have the store automatically ship me items that I buy at regular intervals
(vitamins, contacts, bus passes, etc.).
The benefits to me include never having to think about putting those items on my shopping list,
never running out of them and getting a good deal.
The benefits to the e-tailer are a locked-in customer that provides
a predictable revenue stream and inventory demand."
And, as another panelist said:
"I go to the store because I need something now.
I don't want to wait two days for it to be mailed to me."
- Attract new customers from other market sectors.
- Increase order size since the negative impact of delivery delays are reduced.
More items can withstand the delivery delay since they're ordered in advance of their need.
How It Works
A smart shopping list is added to your site with your branding:
- After customers complete a purchase at your site, you offer to replenish it for them.
- They go away. As time passes, their inventory depletes.
- (Optional) You email customers when items move onto their "short list" (needing replenishment).
This drives them back to your site.
- Returning customers visit your site and view their smart shopping list (replenishment schedule).
They review and update it using a novel, sophisticated user-friendly inventory management application.
- Customers shop using all your shopping features and load your shopping cart.
- You fulfill the orders.
- The purchases are added to their replenishment schedule, and the process repeats.
- Customer loyalty increases each time the smart shopping list is used.
- You can track customer inventories, integrating the data with your own supply-chain management.
- You can pro-actively send targeted offers to members (your customers and new prospects).
- You can get behavior and usage statistics from customers that use your types of products.
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