User Experience of Cross-Channel Fulfillment

For traditional brick and mortars, the movement toward cross-channel fulfillment between the website and the store has presented many challenges. As this offering matures, many site owners will be faced with new issues that arise from allowing consumers to buy online, and then choose their purchase(s) to be shipped or to be picked up at a store. We have discovered, through usability studies of e-commerce websites, that consumers conduct a “game playing” behavior to find the best value within the multiple fulfillment channels offered.

This user behavior ultimately translates to the online consumer trying to find the best price and the quickest receiving method for their chosen product(s). On the surface, this sounds like basic e-commerce consumer behavior. However, websites that provide cross-channel fulfillment have not always offered a checkout process user experience flow that leverages this consumer behavior. The following is an outline of a decision tree that best illustrates this “game playing” behavior.

Note: We pick-up where the site visitor is making their purchase fulfillment decision in the checkout process:

Now imagine this decision tree being conducted on an e-commerce site that offers cross-channel fulfillment. You can see where it becomes a challenge to provide a usable flow to support this online consumer behavior. As you introduce new fulfillment methods on your site (e.g. pick-up in store), the behavior of the online consumer who is “playing the game” (for the best price and quickest method of receiving) needs to be taken into account when designing the checkout process. Focus on offering consumers an easy method of comparing fulfillment methods at once, thus allowing quicker and more educated decisions.

The last thing you want to have happen in the checkout process is something that will deter consumers from completing the purchase.

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