“...that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.”Team YS
There was no online shopping in the 18th century, else one might assume that Jane Austen was referring to the eager anticipation that most online shoppers are familiar with, after we hit the ‘buy’ button.
In fact, ordering is only a small part; today, the whole online shopping experience, covers the entire gamut-- from tracking the package, to getting notifications about the status of your order, to even returns.
And here is where customer engagement companies like Narvar are playing a crucial role by streamlining and enhancing the post-purchase customer experience in today’s digital era. From effortless order tracking and timely notifications, to seamless returns and customer care, the Narvar platform powers billions of interactions across multiple touchpoints like—Web, Mobile, Email, SMS, Facebook Messenger, and more.
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Narvar was founded in 2012 by Amit Sharma, a veteran in the retail space with deep expertise in omnichannel experiences and supply chain management at Apple, Walmart, and Williams-Sonoma.
The Narvar platform consists of a suite of products that enable seamless post-purchase customer experience. “When Narvar started, we began with one key but important solution of tracking packages and providing visibility to end customers on where their shipments were and when it would arrive. Over the years, we have identified other problem areas in the post-purchase leg and have come up with multiple solutions that enhance the overall customer experience across every touchpoint in the customer journey. We are a more holistic solutions player that takes care of every aspect of a customer’s need after they have purchased a product online. With over 7 billion transactions moving through us annually, we are able to enhance our machine learning algorithms to provide a superior experience to both our E-commerce partners and end customers,” says Amit, who’s also the CEO.
Today’s customers are buying an experience (not just a product) and features like effortless, on-demand access to product information, one-click seamless returns process, best-in-class customer engagement, and a self-serve platform will convert a one-time shopper to lifelong brand advocates. One component which builds this kind of loyalty is a seamless post-purchase experience.
“This post-purchase phase of the buying journey is a new moment of truth: an opportunity for retailers to continue to build the customer relationship at a time of high anticipation, and leave a lasting positive impression. Through proactive, transparent, branded communication in the channels that customers prefer, seamless returns and exchanges, and effortless customer care, Narvar empowers retailers to inspire loyalty. Seamless post-purchase experience drives loyalty. We believe great service can turn one-time buyers into repeat customers—and repeat customers into die-hard fans. Narvar is committed to this goal by building loyalty through personalised and seamless experiences,” says Amit.
Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) play a key role in their ability to deliver this kind of seamless experience. Citing an example, he mentions how predicting the delivery date of a product requires a significant amount of data crunching and constant self-learning, allowing for real-time estimates – which is exactly what end customers wish to know – and how Narvar has used ML to enable this.
They are integrated with over 600 carriers globally. “Our experience of working with different order management system (OMS) providers has made it extremely easy for us to on-board clients, with reduced implementation time,” says Amit.
What’s worked extremely well for them is their omni-channel approach. For instance, the ‘buy online and pick up in store’ facility that enables customers to make a purchase online who are then directed to the nearest store to pick up the product. Providing the ability to track these shipments end-to-end is one of their key solutions. Another, is the ability to return a product in a physical store even if they have bought it online.
Their latest offering, Narvar Concierge, eases the return experience for etailers and customers. The solution allows consumers to pick up or return packages at more than 8,000 Walgreens locations in the US, as well as at select Nordstrom stores. “Given that 80 percent of Americans live within 10 minutes of a Walgreens, Narvar Concierge aims to provide additional convenience and control for consumers, while decreasing operating costs for retailers,” says Amit.
Narvar’s client base is now 600 and growing. They have served over 400 million consumers worldwide in 38 countries. They have expanded their presence from the US to UK, across Europe, India and are adding more countries to this list every year.
Their India journey is less than two years old, in which duration they have added a large client base spread across several vertical players in the online space including horizontal marketplaces, vertical focused etailers, and online pharma. Commenting on this, Amit says, “The shipping and delivery solutions space in India has seen tremendous growth with the boom in e-commerce. Over the last few years, there have been quite a few delivery companies that have emerged that cater to the unique needs of the e-commerce business. Some have emerged to become dominant players in this space. However, most solutions are all focused on improving operational efficiency and less on enhancing customer experience. This where we see an opportunity to elevate the overall experience for both retailers and consumers.”
He touches upon the accompanying challenges. According to Amit, while India is projected to have over 200 million digital shoppers by the end of 2019, retailers still tend to focus on acquiring customers, building logistics and site enhancements, and only recently have they begun to focus on the importance of customer retention. “Players who realise the importance of retention and superior customer experience have embraced our solutions readily. Our effort is to educate the market and share how more successful online platforms in other regions have benefitted significantly by focusing on the post-purchase journey of customers. This is something we have actively been doing in the Indian market.”
According to him, their USP is having products that are global in nature but localised to the market needs and challenges and factoring in cultural nuances. He cites an example of a product they introduced specially for high COD markets like India – to manage non-delivery issue for etailers. The product enables customers to reschedule or redirect their order delivery based on their preference through an entirely self-serve mechanism. “The market response has been highly favourable as with the implementation of this product we have positively impacted delivery rates of orders, and NPS scores; and as a result of all of this, reduced returns to an extent as well,” he says.
Talking about the overall impact Narvar has made in the shipping and delivery space in India, he says, “Our solutions have closed the loop between the retailer, delivery partners and customers, increasing efficiency, transparency and ensuring three-way communication.”
Narvar’s 250-strong team is based out of offices in San Francisco, London, Bangalore, Munich and Paris. The company has received funding from the likes of Accel Partners, Salesforce, Battery Ventures and Scale Ventures. “Funding helps us with our ambition for global expansion. It also helps us take strategic bets like our most recent acquisition in France (Kronos Care). We now have a full-fledged innovation team based out of India and experimenting with new cutting-edge solutions is something that is possible with the funding we raise,” says the Founder-CEO.
“A disproportionate share of retail globally and even in India is offline. It’s only in the recent past that brands and retailers have started to unlock the potential of omnichannel, and further enhancements in this space will bring the best of both worlds together. We will be at the forefront of developing technology and solutions to lead that charge,” Amit signs off.