Today's smartphones have everything in them—voice recognition, translators, high-definition cameras, sound recorders. And your store. Ready or not, mobile devices are the new store windows, and if supply chain strategy fails to adapt to that new reality, it risks being left behind. Adding additional layers of complexity is the fact that the "mobile window" into a given store isn't bound by the normal constraints of its brick-and-mortar predecessors. Store hours are now a mere side consideration or may fail to enter the shopping equation entirely. Microsites have bridged the fairly large gap between the effort required to revamp a traditional website and the conversion payoff of new content that promotes sales or particular products. Is your company ready to take the leap?
The 24/7 Advantage
Consumers don’t simply want to access information, shopping ability and browsing opportunities on their mobile devices, they want their entire online experience with a brand to feel both seamless and customized to their browsing habits. Streamlining has assumed too important of a role in the modern shopping experience to permit lengthy menus to thrive. Customers don’t want to have to navigate your entire website—even if it has been scaled to fit a tablet or mobile device—to get to what they need. Online shoppers seek out what they need in a series of "micro-moments" throughout the day. Your supply chain strategy needs to reflect this erratic exposure and engagement with an equally agile procurement and fulfillment chain, adaptable to "viral" popularity and mirroring lows in the midst of bad press, scandals or even buyer apathy.
Thankfully, the discrete nature of microsites make it easy to stockpile a handful of promoted products rather than an entire warehouse full of skus, effectively steering a customer’s path to purchase.
Microsites Make It Easy to Single out Customers
Preferred customers, geo-targeted customers, first time buyers—the potential list of discrete demographic sets is nearly endless. Microsites not only allow marketing teams to speak to a specific audience directly, they make an excellent tool for signaling special packaging treatment. If, for example, an order comes in from a "preferred customer" microsite, your fulfillment center would know to include a special gift with the purchase. If the sale was routed through a first-time buyer ad, an automatic order note could be programmed in, reminding packers to enclose a welcome letter. This strategy works well for limited edition products as well, allowing warehouse teams and management to continually monitor how many pieces should be left versus how many the website displays as remaining.
A Convenient Funnel of Options
Are you offering a particular product that needs special handling or considerations this holiday? Microsites enable you to add or remove special shipping options, such as crating, freighting or country-specific shipping to ensure that workflow doesn't get tangled up with more conventional orders from your company's "main" website. Customers are kept within a relative sandbox of options that only allow them to reach certain outcomes, preventing the need for backtracking, customer communications and costly exceptions. When you build the experience your customer desires through a microsite, it also means building in convenient boundaries to keep your fulfillment team from overextending their capabilities.
Supply chain strategy doesn't end at the loading dock doors; it requires an in-depth look at the ways orders find their way into a fulfillment system. Microsites and mobile-optimized websites are only a few of the options available, but they're extremely powerful in terms of routing customer expectations without introducing frustration along the way. This holiday season, ask your marketing team to consider adding microsites to their toolbox, and make sure they incorporate warehouse needs into that design, should it make its way out onto the web.