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Success Story: Farfetch Streamlines the Post-Purchase Order Tracking Experience

Success Story is a Sourcing Journal feature highlighting innovative solutions across all areas of the supply chain.

Too often, shoppers buy a product online but then have little-to-no information on its whereabouts after the transaction, typically only getting information separately from the retailer and the carrier. E-commerce luxury marketplace Farfetch sought to simplify this process in implementing post-purchase experience platform ParcelLab.

The marketplace, which offers shoppers luxury items from Gucci bags to Moncler puffer jackets to Alexander McQueen lace-up boots, first partnered with ParcelLab in 2019, launching a pilot in the software provider’s home country of Germany, as well as in the Middle East.

With the ParcelLab platform, which tracks shipping data from more than 150 carriers worldwide, including DHL, FedEx and DPD, Farfetch can consolidate multiple orders and tracking links into one communication and tracking page. That way, the marketplace can condense typically complex operations data into a more engaging experience.

For example, split-orders are displayed in the same place so the customer no longer has to navigate multiple emails to track items from one order. In one window, the customer can view exactly where their parcel is and when it will arrive. Furthermore, ParcelLab offers an internal “control tower” to customer-facing teams to quickly resolve shopper inquiries.

This is a significant benefit to Farfetch consumers, as the marketplace often ships products from thousands of inventory points in more than 50 countries, including warehouses, department stores and boutiques, into one online order.

“We are a platform that has multiple stock points for a single order, which means providing a streamlined post-sales experience is more difficult,” said Stuart Hill, senior vice president of logistics at Farfetch. “One of the big gains we see from our partnership with ParcelLab is being able to show a customer with one link multiple fulfillment points rather than show them separately, which we found was a pain point for our customers before.”

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By communicating using ParcelLab’s platform, Farfetch not only builds a consistent post-purchase experience for every transaction, but maintains the communication points that are often lost out to third-party carriers during shipping.

This is a key victory for the marketplace. In an analysis of 52 major retailers in 2020, ParcelLab discovered that the process for tracking a product after a purchase is fraught with fracture. Only 27 percent of retailers host a shipment tracking page on their website, the company found. Twenty-three percent opt for the carrier to convey delivery information, while another 42 percent rely on other third-party vendors.

Farfetch preserves brand personality, fosters engagement

This lack of consistency can confuse for shoppers. Additionally, the brand often loses its personality when the communication gets outsourced elsewhere. Prior to working with ParcelLab, Farfetch dealt with a few of these issues, as the customer interaction was passed onto its partner carriers. This eliminated the branding advantage that the marketplace maintained leading up to the purchase.

Now, customers receive a branded Farfetch dispatch confirmation email with tracking information. Shoppers can also access this via the “My Account” tab on the Farfetch website.

Success Story: How Farfetch Simplifies Post-Purchase Communication
Example of the order confirmation form shown after a purchase is made on Farfetch. ParcelLab

“We believe that the customer experience should be from the Farfetch brand. One of the challenges of Farfetch pioneering the business model, combined with an intricate fulfillment chain, is being able to communicate this complexity to our customers,” Hill said.

With more control over the post-sale customer journey, Farfetch also gets a better opportunity to personalize its communication based on characteristics such as demographic.

This is still a process that is largely neglected within e-commerce. The ParcelLab analysis indicated that 68 percent of retailers don’t personalize their order confirmation emails, and instead send these emails without other important context such as product recommendations that can increase retention.

Collaboration is preferred to building internally

The luxury purveyor mulled the idea of building its own in-house solution, especially given it already operates its own white-label Farfetch Platform Solutions (FPS) business that builds websites for third-party sellers and helps synchronize inventory across channels. But instead, Farfetch opted to take the partnership route. It felt the amount of time and resources required to take control of the post-sales journey would be too high, and could delay the benefit for customers.

“We have a common goal to improve the lives of customers and simplify that post-sales experience, which means working toward an aligned purpose,” Hill said. “ParcelLab has empathy with the B2C challenge and understands the post-purchase challenge.”

ParcelLab monitors over 3 million shipments per day worldwide, tracking post-purchase operations experience in 153 countries. The company sends nearly 7 million personalized, event-driven emails.

The software provider netted $112 million in Series C funding in June led by venture capital firm Insight Partners. With the new capital, ParcelLab aims to continue its global expansion plans, support new product developments and further enhance the progression of its recently released returns portal.

Farfetch wants to help that expansion process continue. In 2021, the luxury marketplace expanded the pilot beyond its first two markets to more European markets including the U.K. and France.

“It’s probably safe to say that any retailer, in any market, wants to make sure that the post-sales experience is as great as it can be,” said Hill. “And any improvement in the post-sales experience will increase that percentage of returning customers.”