Multichannel Merchant held its first annual Excellence in Customer Experience Awards at Operations Summit 2015, held April 14-16 in Louisville, KY. The awards, established to recognize retailers at the cutting edge of delivery, packaging, returns, customer experience and innovation, were presented in a ceremony at the annual Operations Summit 2015.
“To their customers, these companies are superheroes, delivering a superior experience from the order to the return,” said Ellen Shannon, chief content director and publisher at Multichannel Merchant.
Multichannel Merchant has been closely following the rapid growth of omnichannel retail, including the challenges of increasingly complex order fulfillment and inventory management across physical and digital channels, and the ever-expanding variety of delivery options. With this comes a host of customer communications requirements – all presenting opportunities to wow buyers and keep them coming back.
The categories and results were as follows:
Best Packaging: Bath & Body Works (winner); Birchbox, Bonobos, Macy’s (finalists).
Best Shipping and Delivery Experience: BCBGMaxazria (winner); Burberry, LuluLemon, Sony (finalists)
Excellence in Brand Communication: L.L. Bean (winner); Macy’s, Pottery Barn, Target (finalists)
Best Customer Returns: Bonobos (winner); Express, Lowe’s, Nordstrom (finalists)
Customer Experience Leader: Bonobos (winner); L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Zappos (finalists)
Retail Innovator of the Year: Amazon (winner); Birchbox, Boden, Everlane, Lowe’s, Macy’s, ModCloth, Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom, Target (finalists).
“The judges found it very difficult to pick just one winner for the Retail Innovator of the Year,” said Shannon. “But Amazon is a continual innovator and disruptor as evidenced by cutting-edge developments like Amazon Prime Air, which envisions getting packages to customers in 30 minutes or less via drones, and a patent on file for creating products en route to consumers using 3D printing technology.”
Data from Innotrac’s SmartHub benchmarking study was used to identify the top performers in each of the award categories. Using SmartHub, all finalists were chosen based on data collected during Innotrac’s test ordering process.
“To better understand prospects and their competitors, we would place test orders from merchants and look at things like how packages were handled and how quickly they arrived,” said Jessica Mine, manager of ecommerce for Innotrac. “In the beginning, the test order data was used in sales conversations – in fact over time it became a larger focus in those conversations. Now it has grown into a full study of the ecommerce industry using a standardized process. We have grown from ordering from 50 leading online retailers six times a year, to ordering from more than 250.”
Mine said each order was evaluated on 95 data points, from the ordering process to returns and refunds, and more than 1,600 packages were processed in 2014. The SmartHub team looked at everything from order arrival time to package condition and who delivered it, as well as email communication received before and after its arrival as well.
“We want to offer our congratulations to all the 2015 winners and finalists for continuing to explore new ways of delivering consistent excellence across all facets of the customer experience,” Shannon said. “In the process they’re increasing loyalty and driving sales, raising the bar on retail innovation and inspiring others to do so as well.”