background

Zenkraft Blog

Run your Logistics and Post-Purchase Experience on the Salesforce Platform.

Managing Returns during a global lockdown (label expiry, pickups & more)

Published on 08 April 2020 by in ecommerce returns 

 

We’ve been asked frequently by our customers, how do we manage returns and pickups during the global lockdown? With consumers increasingly not being able to leave their homes due to government policy, scheduling pickups has become increasingly popular.

Some retailers have chosen to extend their return periods and have asked us to extend the validity of return labels. Here is a guide to some of the popular carrier’s expiration policy:

 

  • FedEx - return labels expire after 2 years
  • UPS - return labels do not have a specified expiry date
  • USPS - return labels expire after 1 year
  • DHL - return labels last a minimum of 3 months
  • Royal Mail - there is no expiry on return labels from Royal Mail
  • Australia Post - return labels expire after 60 days
  • Singapore Post - return labels expire after 180 days

 

We thought it would be useful to write a step-by-step guide showing how to set up auto-scheduling of pickups for FedEx and UPS. If you have requests for other carriers please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information. 

There are two options when it comes to pickups:

1. Bundled service offering

Such as UPS Return Service 1-Attempt and UPS Return Service 3-Attempts. These allow you to generate labels and schedule the pickup in a single transaction. You can enable these via the wizard:

 

 

 

..but also using our process builder method to set the CAS values such as below:

Service DescriptionCAS Value
Return Service 1 Attempt3
Return Service 3 Attempts5

 

2. Schedule pickups from residential addresses

You might have a different flow that requires you to book shipments separately from the shipment booking. We’ve had several requests from consignment retailers that like to trigger the schedule of a pickup when a case updates. 

Below are the step-by-step instructions on how to schedule an automated pickup of an existing shipment related to a case:

https://zenkraft.com/docs/multi/automated-pickups

Continue reading »

Salesforce Order Management

Published on 09 March 2020 by in salesforce commerce-cloud returns 

Zenkraft's Salesforce Order Management integration adds 100% native shipping, tracking and returns functionality to Salesforce Order Management

Keep reading to see how Zenkraft integrates with Salesforce's newest Commerce product! 

Automating Shipping Carrier Selection

When an order is received, Zenkraft automatically selects the most appropriate carrier for fulfillment. This can be based on any number of factors such as:

  • Warehouse - Map shipments to the most cost-effective warehouse or the warehouse that can fulfill the order quickest (depending on your business rules).
  • Product - Does the package contain elements that are temperature sensitive? Map these shipments to a carrier equipped to track the temperature of deliveries.
  • Weight - Does the package weigh over 80 lbs? Map these shipments to your freight carrier.
  • Destination - Are you shipping to a specific country? Map these shipments to a carrier based in the region.

Shipments are booked directly with the shipping carrier and international paperwork (such as Commercial Invoice, ProForma Invoice, or NAFTA Certificate of Origin) is filed electronically. Cutting down the time it takes to book a shipment and preventing delays when shipping across borders. 

As you can see Zenkraft built “book shipment" &  "Create Fullfilment Order") into the flow builder. 

Branded Tracking Notifications & Upselling with Einstein 

Once the shipment is in transit, Zenkraft sends shipping notifications using email, SMS, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Tracking emails contain a “Track Shipment” button that once clicked drives consumers back to your ecommerce store.

Here you can see a customer clicking "Track Shipment" from their email and being sent back to a branded tracking page with recommended products on the right-hand side. 

Once shoppers return to your ecommerce store, Zenkraft’s Commerce Cloud app will present upsell promotions using Einstein Recommendations.  

Additionally, if your company uses Salesforce Marketing Cloud, our journey builder integration enables you to collect open, click and conversion data for these shipping notifications. 

Our Journey Builder integration allows marketers to see how shoppers interact with shipment notifications and adjust the content for better performance. 

Automating Returns

If a customer decides they would like to return their recent purchase, service reps can quickly generate return shipments with a single click using Zenkraft's Salesforce Order Management integration. Zenkraft makes one-click returns possible by bringing the functionality of 60+  shipping carrier sites onto the Salesforce platform.  Bringing shipping & returns functionality into Salesforce eliminates the need to copy & paste customer data between systems and saves our customers thousands of man-hours per year. 

As you can see Zenkraft's invocable method (“create return shipment”) is built into the flow to enable automated returns. 

Once a customer decides to return an item, retailers are able to view real-time tracking updates for inbound returns completing the 360 degree view of the customer. Our integration also enables service teams to build workflow in Salesforce based on reverse logistics checkpoints (dispatch refunds/replacements based on arrival scans, departure scans, etc.)

The tracking status of return shipments will update hourly. 

Reducing Need for Service Rep Interaction

Zenkraft allows brands to take a hands-off approach to returns in 2 ways: Chatbots and Self-Service Returns.

Einstein Chatbots 

Our Einstein Chatbot integration can help automate WISMO inquiries and returns. Einstein Chatbots with WISMO & return label functionality is simple to set up since it's on the Salesforce platform. Your Salesforce admin will be able to quickly plug in Zenkraft actions to any existing Einstein bot implementations. 

The communication between the bot and our app is a simple bit of apex code that can be added and modified to suit your business needs.
 

Self-Service Returns

Zenkraft's solution enables ecommerce shoppers to generate and receive a return label without interacting with a service rep. All customers need to do is log into their account, answer a few quick questions pertaining to their return and submit their return request. 

Provide your customers with a seamless return experience that requires 0 interaction with customer service. 

Pick & Pack Orders in Salesforce

Additionally, our app supports In-store fulfillment and pick and package capabilities by integrating with printers, scales and scanners. Supported peripherals include: Zebra LP2443 (EPL2), Zebra LP2844 (EPL2), Zebra LP2348 Plus (EPL2), Zebra Z4M Plus (ZPL or EPL), Zebra ZP500 (ZPL or EPL), Zebra ZP500 Plus (ZPL or EPL), Eltron 2442, Eltron 2543
Eltron 2844, OKI Data LD620, Zebra S4M, Zebra ZP450, Zebra ZT230, UPS Thermal LP2844, Zebra GK420d Thermal Printer, Zebra GX420d Thermal Printer, ZT230 Zebra Printer
and ZT410 Industrial Zebra Printer (These are the printers we have tested. Many other thermal printers that print in a resolution of 203dpi should also work.)

Automatically assign a container type and shipping carrier with the swipe of a scanner. 

Shipping & Returns Dashboards

When you handle shipping & returns natively you can view real-time dashboards of all your shipping and returns data in one place. 

 Combining Salesforce's powerful reporting capabilities with shipping & returns data from carriers is a hidden benefit of our native solution. 

 

Zenkraft is used by nearly 1,000 Salesforce customers across every cloud. We support 60+ carriers and can be configured using clicks not code, so the level of effort to implement is low. If you have any questions about our solution you can visit our Salesforce Order Management page or you can schedule a personalized demo here.

 

Continue reading »

Managing Ecommerce Returns in Salesforce

Published on 21 January 2020 by in salesforce ecommerce returns 

Ecommerce Returns are on the Rise 📈

UPS estimated that almost 2 million packages entered its network on January 2nd, the day it has coined “National Returns Day”.

That’s one shipping carrier, in one market, in one day...

Is your technology stack equipped to provide a top-notch customer experience in the age of excessive ecommerce returns?

In most companies, there’s a disconnect between the return request (Case) and the physical location of the item. Zenkraft helps eliminate this disconnect by connecting 60+ shipping carriers to Cases in Salesforce, enabling CSRs to create return shipping labels directly from return requests (cases). 

4 ways Zenkraft can help your team process ecommerce returns:

Create Labels with a Single-Click 🦸‍♀️

Superman can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Your CSRs can create ecommerce return labels in a single click with the Multi-Carrier app! 

Once the Multi-Carrier app is installed Service Cloud users can click a button and generate the return label, email it and follow up when/if the item is not returned. 

This allows your customer service reps to avoid hours of monotonous copy and pasting. Giving them more time and energy to roll out the red carpet for customers, training to handle more complex customer service situations, relaying important customer feedback to your product team, and building a loyal community around your products. 

Trigger Workflow 🔫

The physical location and movement of an ecommerce return is an integral part of managing inventory and staying in contact with shipping carriers and customers. 

With Zenkraft, companies can leverage status updates to improve customer experience and protect themselves from returns fraud. 

If return requests aren’t connected to Cases in your organization, how are you processing ecommerce returns? Are you waiting for a return to travel all the way back upstream? Are you taking chances on packages that may not have been returned or checked for damages?

There’s a better way!

Configure the automatic dispatch of refunds and exchanges based on your own business rules. With the shipment location connected to the Case you can trigger refunds/exchanges when a return reaches a particular checkpoint. 

RPA & Returns 🤖

Configuring a "Return My Order" dialogue in Salesforce helps take simple return situations off the plate of customer service reps. The Salesforce platform allows you to easily plug in Zenkraft Actions to existing Bot implementations and craft your chatbot’s conversation.

You can begin the conversation with a dynamic “Return My Order” button. The chatbot can then be configured to ask “ What’s your order number or email address?”. After the customer responds, the bot will retrieve their information and send a return label in the chat window. Your message will look something like this "Here is your return shipping label {!ReturnLabelURL}.

Hands-Off Approach to Returns 🚫🤲

Would you like to remove all but the most complex returns/exchanges from your customer service reps queue?

Our application allows customers to login to their account, quickly explain why they'd like to return the package, generate a label, and mail the package all without having to talk to a customer service rep. 

Final Word

Knowing the physical location of a return is crucial to elevating your ecommerce returns experience and getting valuable inventory restocked. Having access to this information in real-time allows you to dispatch refunds or exchanges quicker.

But what’s better for you and your customer is the customer having real-time access to this information.

So connect Cases to shipment location and keep your customers happy (And out of your hair).

Continue reading »

Returns Account for $369 Billion In Lost Sales

Published on 12 October 2019 by in ecommerce returns 

In a survey by the National Retail Federation consumers ranked return policy as more important than a brand's customer service. 

To stay competitive, brands are spending tons of money to make returns hassle-free for consumers. Increasing the ease of returns is a great way to increase customer loyalty and retention. 

However, recently, brands have gotten so good at making returns hassle-free for consumers that the number of returns has skyrocketed. According to the NRF, total merchandise returns account for $369 Billion in lost sales for US Retailers. 

The effects are even more significant with omnichannel brands. The money omnichannel retailers are spending on returns grows as their online sales become a larger part of their overall sales. Steve Dennis, President & Founder of SageBerry Consulting, calls this phenomenon the "omnichannel migration dilemma."

If they aren’t already, brands should be paying close attention to the number of returns and the costs associated with them.

As Peter Drucker would say, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” 

The Returns Epidemic 

“Online shoppers want the same level of choice, control and convenience making their returns as they do making their purchases,” - Teresa Finley, CMO for UPS.

First and foremost, consumers want returns and exchanges to be free. According to a report by Walker-Sands, 54% of consumers said that free returns and exchanges made them more likely to shop online. The only factor that ranked higher was free shipping. 

Unfortunately for brands, free returns are not free for the business. Returns increase costs in a multitude of ways. From shipping costs to increased labor costs (inspection and restocking). Not to mention that some of the returned inventory will no longer be in good enough condition to sell at full price (or at all). 

Fraud & Abuse are Making Matters Worse

Unfortunately, good-intentioned policies are being taken advantage of by individuals who want the dressing room experience at home and criminal groups alike. 

No, we aren’t suggesting that Jessica who is unsure about the perfect dress for her date is as bad as groups who are deliberately committing fraud.  But both are sucking profits out of companies whose only crime is trying to take care of customers who aren’t pleased with their purchase. 

According to Appris, for every $100 in returns, $5.00 is lost to return fraud. 

Just let that sink in for a moment. 

The same study estimates that the retail industry loses just under $24 Billion per year to returns fraud and abuse.

Every brand in the world strives to provide a great customer experience. But every brand can’t afford to hemorrhage money from returns. 

Finding a Balance Between Customer Experience and Your Return Policy

Brands are in a dilemma: 

1. Should they provide a liberal return/exchange policy? 100% satisfaction guarantee, no questions asked, etc.

OR

2. Should they provide a more stringent policy? Restricts the amount of product a customer can return, the period in which they can return, etc. 

Similar to most issues, the answer is in the middle.

Lenient return policies are a great way to win the hearts, minds, and dollars of consumers. Companies like Land’s End and Zappos have built their companies on the backs of generous returns policies. This bet on building relationships with their customers has paid dividends and is inseparable from their brand's image. 

Despite all the positives of a lenient return policy, the risk of abuse can not be ignored. L.L. Bean is probably the most famous example of a brand changing its return policy. Last year, the company decided to end its 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy instituted by the company’s founder. Making this decision after they observed a significant amount of abuse from their customer base. 

The abuse was so widespread that Company Chairman, Shawn Gorman, had his own donated shirt returned for a refund. L.L. Bean reported that the policy cost them $250 million over 5 years. Even so, the decision to change the policy was met with backlash from customers like the one below:

 

Some customers felt so betrayed by the brand’s decision that they even filed lawsuits

Here are two more examples of companies who were known for having very generous policies who felt like they need to make changes:

- Costco - In 2007 the company restricted returns of electronics. 

- REI - The company’s return policy was so lenient and return abuse was so rampant it earned nicknames like Rental Equipment Inc. 

Have you considered changing your return policy?

Is return abuse a widespread issue for your company? Is it putting your company under immense financial pressure? It may be time to make sweeping changes to your return policy. 

Here are the 4 main ways that brands alter their return policies: 

- Require proof of purchase

- Require an item to be in its original packaging 

- Reduce the amount of time customers have to return the item. 

- Give customers store credit for returns

Worried about the cost of returns?

Don’t be! Ok, maybe you should just a little. Some of the biggest names in e-commerce are taking action against excessive returns. Amazon and Zappos have both suspended customers they identified as serial returners. 

There isn’t a definitive best policy for deterring serial returns. But using data to target individuals who you know are pushing the limits of your return policy is a great alternative to making sweeping changes to your return policy. Sweeping changes punish your entire customer base for the actions of a few. 

Reducing Returns with Zenkraft Dashboards

Zenkraft’s solution collects data on returns and packages them into easily digestible dashboards. These dashboards can be a valuable weapon in your efforts to crack down on return fraud and abuse.  

Zenkraft’s dashboards will empower your team to make an informed decision to protect your margins. When analyzing the data you will be able to identify product categories, specific products, the reason for the return, and which customers are making the most returns. 

After reviewing the data you can then determine what course of action to take. Whether that means, making wholesale changes to your return policy, changing your policy for a specific product category, or warning/banning customers who are testing the limits of your policy.

Conclusion

We can all agree that you’d rather your brand be on the first page of Google when you search “Generous return policies” instead of “Stingy return policies”. But just because your brand is perceived to have a less generous policy doesn’t mean it was a mistake. 

Brands, especially those whose online stores are driving a large percentage of sales, need to be wary of the rising expenses associated with returns. And keep a close eye out for serial returners. It may be necessary to tweak your return policy to preserve the financial health of your company. 

Brands span industries and sell completely different products. So why would there be a one size fits all return policy for every brand? I would look ridiculous in Shaq’s suit, but that doesn’t mean I won’t look good in a tailored suit. 

Your return policy should be tailored to fit the nature of your product. Books and video games that can be completed in a week should have shorter return policies than refrigerators.  
If 85% of L.L. Bean’s customers were ok with the controversial decision to change from lifetime returns to 1-year returns. It’s certainly possible for your brand to strike a balance that is both customer-friendly and bottom-line friendly.

Continue reading »

5 Ways to Improve the Post-Purchase Customer Experience

Published on 24 September 2019 by in b2bcommerce commerce-cloud returns 

Are you putting enough emphasis on post-purchase experience? 

There’s a time lag for online retailers between purchase and package arrival that even Amazon Prime can’t eliminate. Unfortunately, customer experience during this time is often overlooked by brands. 

It makes sense.

According to Retail Learning, retail brands spend almost 80% of their budget on attracting new visitors to their website, leaving a much smaller percentage to dedicate to the post-purchase experience. This often results in the brand passing the baton to shipping carriers whose expertise is in delivering packages, not providing a seamless digital experience.

However, the post-purchase experience shouldn’t be an afterthought. Ultimately, these are real customers, not potential customers. They thought enough of your brand to spend their hard-earned money with you. And don’t forget what you learned in Intro to Business: it’s more cost-effective to retain a customer than to convert a new one.

Does this sound like your brand? You are not alone. According to a CMO Council study, over 55% of consumers are not pleased with their online experience. Luckily, it’s not too late to improve how you interact with customers post purchase.


Here are 5 improvements you can make using the Zenkraft Post-Purchase platform:

1) Increase ease of returns

According to a survey by Slice Intelligence, return expenses and return effort are number 2 and 3 on the list of online shopper frustrations. Although brands are aware that consumers value a great return experience, over 50% of e-commerce sites still have a returns interface with substantial usability Issues. Even more concerning for brands with poor return processes is that 20% of users would never or are very unlikely to buy again from a company who has disappointed them with their site’s return experience. 
The nature of e-commerce lends itself to a higher level of returns than traditional stores, where a customer can physically experience the product and establish a higher level of certainty that it meets their needs.

Processing returns can be costly for a business. RSR Research retail analyst, Paula Rosenblum, estimates that retailers lose a third of their revenue to returns, but losing repeat customers due to a difficult returns experience can end up costing your brand even more. According to the Adobe Digital Index, 40% of US e-commerce revenue comes from repeat customers.

To make your customer’s return experience as stress-free as possible, you can implement self-service returns using our post-purchase platform. This feature allows dissatisfied customers to generate a return label, save it, and print it off at home without having to speak with members of your customer service team.

You might have skimmed past the part about saving shipping labels. At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but 67% of users want to print off their label at a later date and 65% of sites DO NOT have an easily identifiable way to save the label. This can significantly reduce stress for those customers who are in a rush or those without a printer in the home. We also recently started supporting QR codes, which eliminates the need for a printer.

Our post purchase platform also allows you to gather data on why items are being returned. For example, a shoe retailer could add a question about shoe fit to determine if a particular shoe runs small or large.  This data can then be used to generate reports in Salesforce to identify your most returned products, serial returners, and reasons for returns that can be used to reduce returns, and, ultimately, improve customer experience. 

 

Image from Baymard.com

 

2) Make tracking experience seamless

Confusing, disorienting, clunky, difficult. These are not the words that you want to be associated with your online user experience. But the fact is: sending customers to a shipping carriers landing page can be all of those words.

Despite the clear disadvantages of trusting carriers with this aspect of the customer experience, 21% of e-commerce sites outsource this vital function.  

Zenkraft allows you to easily create a branded tracking page hosted on your domain instead of sending your customers to the shipping carrier’s site for tracking information. 

 

 

Tracking pages built using our Commerce Cloud Cartridge can be quickly customized in accordance with your brand’s style guide, leaving no doubt in the consumer’s mind whose site they are on.

Additional tracking page features will be covered in each of the next 3 sections. 


3) Tailor product offerings 

With what seems like endless options, shoppers want a little bit of help. Consumers want the same tailored experience they get on Amazon and Netflix on your site.  When it’s not tailored, consumers notice.

Customization has become such an integral part of a modern shoppers experience that “50% of consumers say they’re likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t anticipate their needs.”

And when brands DO customize each individual shopping experience with recommendations the results speak for themselves. According to a recent Salesforce study, “Visits where the shopper clicked a recommendation created 26% of ecommerce revenue.”
You might be thinking, “Customizing ads like Amazon sounds great. We will get to that after we build our second company headquarters.” It’s not as out of reach as you think. With Einstein recommendations, you can have this Amazon-like capability up and running in less than 10 minutes. Einstein recommendations is an AI-driven Salesforce feature that constantly studies visitor behavior to discover their likes and dislikes to learn which products individuals will be most interested in purchasing.

While most companies will talk about the value of these AI-driven recommendations on your product details page, we suggest using Einstein recommendations on your tracking page to boost revenue post-purchase. Using your tracking page as a marketing tool might seem weird at first, but Zenkraft believes tracking pages are a tool that brands can use to produce significant results. Just ask Icebreaker, which increased clicks by 40% and revenue by 28% by adding Einstein recommendations to their Commerce Cloud site.

 

4) Keep customers in the know

Consumers understand that delays can be unavoidable, but they don’t like being left in the dark. They are busy, after all. They have jobs, doctor’s appointments, and soccer games to get to. Receiving a package is just one of many items on their to-do list, and they don’t want to be stuck by their front door waiting for a delivery.

A bad experience between buying and unboxing can leave a blemish on the customer experience that has nothing to do with the quality of your product. This is especially true if your product is an inexpensive item because the hassle can quickly exceed the perceived value of the product being delivered.

To avoid a poor customer experience overshadowing your product, we suggest keeping your customers in the know early and often. According to Retail Learning, 40% of e-commerce shoppers check their shipping status one or more times per day after ordering.

It’s easy to keep your customers informed with our Commerce Cloud integration, which will automatically update the tracking page with the latest data from the carrier. Users will be able to see more significant shipping milestones such as: in transit, out for delivery, delivered, as well as a complete travel history of their delivery.

Additionally, your brand will be able to keep customers in the know by sending them notifications via their favorite messaging app or smart speaker. For more information on Zenkraft’s ecommerce shipping notifications, see our recent blog by clicking here

 

5) Increase shipping options

The Baymard Institute found that the #1 reason for abandoning an online shopping cart is extra fees related to shipping, taxes, & fees. To counter this, brands must offer as many low cost/free options to customers as possible.

We know that’s easier said than done. That’s why we recommend adding a buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) option to your tracking page! BOPIS, also known as “Click and Collect,” can be a cost-effective way to provide your customers with another free shipping option.

BOPIS has become very popular with online shoppers and they expect to see this option during checkout. According to Business Insider, the absence of in store pick up can cost you money, 50% of shoppers have determined where to shop based on the absence of BOPIS alone.
Brands like Home Depot, Walmart, and Target are doubling down on this trend, and it’s driving growth!

According to Target's COO, John Mulligan, investments in diversifying shipping options for their customers (via in-store pickup, drive up, and Shipt) accounted for nearly three-quarters of it’s 34% digital sales growth in Q2 of 2019. 

 

Image from Target.com

 

Consumers love having choices, and BOPIS is definitely a choice your brand should provide to consumers because it can help you as much as it helps them.

BOPIS can help reduce shipping costs, shipping times, and drive customers into your brick and mortar stores, where 85% of BOPIS shoppers admit to giving in to the urge to impulse buy.

Zenkraft builds upon the standard BOPIS functionality in Commerce Cloud, which creates a smooth process where:

- Our platform automatically allocates a store to fulfill the inventory.

- Store staff claim the shipping order, and it's added to the fulfillment queue.

- Zenkraft notifies the customer that the shipment is ready for pickup.

You will also be able to customize your tracking page to provide a flawless experience for your customers who choose the BOPIS option. Rather than force the standard shipping process steps to “fit” BOPIS, we provide you with standard steps for this process (Order Placed, Store Preparing Order, & Ready for Pickup). Additionally, you can add specific store contact information, map functionality, and collect pickup feedback.


Conclusion

The period between the buy button and delivery is crucial for your business. Please don't overlook the importance of the post-purchase customer experience, and always remember that your responsibility to your customer doesn’t end when they hit “Place Order.”
 

Continue reading »