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Just Right Inventory Management = Just Right NPS

Ask most ecommerce brands what they need to do to elevate their net promoter score (NPS), and inventory management isn't on their list. That's a mistake.

DTC companies live by their net promoter score (NPS). Fierce competition, expensive advertising, and tightening privacy rules all make it harder for smaller brands to stand out. In this digital landscape where communication happens easily and often, how your brand is rated by your customers—and whether they will recommend it to others—is everything.

Increasing NPS is challenging, and the knowledge of how to do it is often elusive. Ask most DTC brands for the top 5 things they need to concentrate on to elevate their NPS, and it’s likely inventory management doesn’t even make their list. 

That’s a mistake. Inventory management should be at the top.

Just Right Inventory

Every inventory/operations manager is trying to find the “just right” inventory balance, largely by looking at historical sales data, market conditions, seasonality, and trends. They’re thinking about customer growth to determine how much to order, so the product sells through at the desired pace. 

Say you have too little inventory: At best, your customers feel frustrated and rejected because the product isn’t available; at worst, you oversell and let your customer think they have purchased a product that will never be delivered. Either way, you have unhappy customers. On the flip side, say you have too much of something. An early adopter buys the product within a day or two of launch, only to find it deeply discounted a month later. Unhappy customer.

If a customer wants the product on day one or day 40, there should be enough to meet their demand, but there should not be so much that it is lolling in the warehouse, leading to discounts that upset early adopters and eat into your cash flow. All these considerations, which sit firmly in the realm of inventory management, have a direct impact on your NPS.

Just Right Experience

If you think inventory management stops with maintaining the right balance of product, think again. A 2018 Salesforce Research report found that 80% of customers said the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Balancing inventory to ensure your customers have a positive transaction experience is essential, but don’t forget that 50% of your customer’s experience comes after the transaction is complete. 

Inventory management goes beyond your inventory/ops team, and interdepartmental inventory alignment is a hallmark of the most successful DTC brands. Arming your CX team with complete, real-time visibility into your inventory can be the difference between happy customers and unhappy customers—and between a high and low NPS.

“I can think of times when I’ve contacted customer service and asked: “Do you have this size? Do you have this color? When can I get it?” And either it takes them a very long time to figure out all that stuff, or they can’t answer at all,” says Mike Averto, ChannelApe’s founder and CEO. “If they have ChannelApe, with one stroke of a key, they have real-time inventory visibility, so all that information and more is at their fingertips. This only adds to the customer’s positive experience.”

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If you’re not convinced, consider more statistics from the Salesforce report, which highlighted the importance of word-of-mouth marketing: 62% of consumers surveyed said they share bad experiences with others, and 72% of consumers said they share good experiences with others. Your customers will share their experiences. You can take control of whether they have something positive to share.

Just Right NPS

ChannelApe enables a seamless, positive, efficient, word-of-mouth-worthy customer experience. CX teams can confidently speak to inventory levels, delivery times, and product details. Inventory management starts by giving brands the tools, visibility, and control to order the correct amount, split a product among multiple colors or sizes in the way that best meets their customer base, then sell through it at a rate that is appropriate for their business, the season, and the product. Interested customers can successfully purchase your product. They receive it in a reasonable amount of time. It fits as described. Happy customer = higher NPS.

But it doesn’t end there. Since we already know half of your customer’s experience happens after they click “Buy Now,” ChannelApe stays with you—and them. If your customers have questions along the way about availability, products, or shipping times, your CX team can answer them confidently every time. WISMO (“Where Is My Order”) e-mails no longer clog your support teams’ inboxes, because ChannelApe enables you to proactively alert customers to the status of their order at every step. Happy customer = higher NPS.

ChannelApe also lets your customers preorder an item—maybe in conjunction with a product launch teaser that gives loyal customers the first chance to purchase. Some 74% of consumers are more likely to preorder an item to guarantee they receive it, rather than waiting for the item to be in stock and risk it selling out. With ChannelApe, allowing your customers to preorder is easy-peasy. Happy customer = higher NPS.

To increase customer satisfaction even further, ChannelApe offers YesWindow, an adjustable window of time that lets you automatically hold orders from processing to give your CX team time to respond to changes. Say an order comes in, and a few hours later your customer realizes, “Actually, I need a different size.” The order has already been processed and is on its way, meaning you’ve just shipped an item that you need to ship back, then reship the correct item. That’s three shipments instead of one, which increases the amount of CX time and money your brand spends on that single order. 

Of course, you could always just say No to your customer. Don’t risk that hit to your NPS. Responsive, flexible YesWindow reliably improves customer satisfaction and retention by letting customers make changes during an adjustable window of time that is set by you. Your delighted customers tell their friends about their great experience. Happy customer = higher NPS.

Increasing your NPS is not quite as elusive as you may have thought. Put this equation at the top of your list: Just Right Inventory Management = Just Right NPS.

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