Thanks to the pandemic, people are spending more and more time at home, meaning that they increasingly turn to online stores for their shopping needs. For e-commerce businesses, this presents an opportunity to attract new customers and turn leads into engaged, loyal customers who will continue shopping online long after the pandemic is over, according to experts. To do this though, you need to get improve delivery so you reduce costs and speed products to customers.
How to improve delivery
While a survey from last holiday shows that the cost of shipping still has the greatest impact on consumer satisfaction with shipping options, speed followed as the second most critical factor impacting their satisfaction with shipping. About 80% of consumers consider free, two-day shipping the norm in a recent survey of consumer preferences. And, nearly 73% of respondents said they’d never do business with a firm again after a bad shipping experience despite other factors.
Of course, cost and speed are related; thus, as delivery speed improves, costs often go up. As the pandemic drove more shoppers online, delays became the norm and free shipping no longer available in many e-commerce businesses. In fact, even before the pandemic, more companies transitioned to a freemium model where consumers needed a subscription to get free shipping, such as with Amazon Prime. Others only offered free shipping as a means to reduce the demand for in-store inventory or for orders over a certain dollar amount. In most cases, consumers recognize that free shipping isn’t really free and want reasonable shipping options.
So, how do you improve delivery and keep your customers happy? Here are some suggestions to improve delivery without breaking the bank.
1. Offer a range of shipping options
Different people have different priorities when they’re shopping online. For some people, they’re after a bargain, whereas others want convenience and speed. These people also look for different things when it comes to delivery. Those who want bargains look for deals offering free shipping, even if it means waiting a little longer for their order to arrive. Those who shop for convenience value speed over lower costs so they’re likely willing to pay a little more if it means they can get next or even same-day delivery. Make sure you have options for both of these kinds of people.
Often, e-commerce companies try to separate shipping costs from the price of the product, by only showing shipping options during the checkout process. The psychological basis for this is real in that consumers who are in the process of buying a product, feel a sense of ownership despite not having physical possession, and are more reluctant to discard the item at the checkout stage than the cart stage.
2. Use the right material handling process to improve delivery
Sometimes delivery delays start before the product even leaves your warehouse and problem escalate from there. And, while you might not be able to control the weather, you can, and should, control the picking and packing operation within your facility to ensure prompt delivery.
Once you receive an order, the next step is to pick the right products from your shelves. After picking, comes packing, which we’ll talk about in the next tip. Depending on your setup, this process can take a few hours or days. Taking care of this fast and accurately means you improve delivery, potentially greatly improve delivery, and make your customers happy.
Unfortunately, this is a manual process, for the most part, and humans don’t work 24/7 and they sometimes make mistakes. So, a key to managing this step is to have great processes that make the human job easier. Depending on your size and the volume of product you ship, you may also need specialized equipment to improve handling.
Let me give you an example of how to handle your internal processes if you have a large volume of shipping going on.
- Electronic delivery of the order to the shipping department so nothing slips through the cracks.
- A computer assigns orders to specific employees in a manner that multiple orders are picked at the same time while reducing the distance employees travel and eliminating searching for items ordered.
- Once all items are picked for assigned orders, the employee delivers the orders to the shipping department.
- Items are boxed up, often using the computer-generated picking chart to identify the correct size box needed and the right packing materials to ensure product safety.
- Boxes make their way to a bay where they’re loaded onto vehicles for the next stage of their journey. Some firms pass boxes over a scale to ensure the proper items are in the box (since we know the weight of all the items that should be in the box).
- Now, your packages move onto the next step, often the carrier.
3. Get the packaging right
Improve delivery beyond price by ensuring your products arrive in an attractive package. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
When your customers receive their orders, they get an impression of your brand before they ever open the package. That means, when the arrives, it must look good. Get the packaging right with custom packaging for small businesses to ensure you make a good first impression on customers.
Packaging should be sturdy, so ordered items arrive safely. Interior packing materials give customers confidence packaging protected their items during shipment to ensure the product arrived in good condition. Adding popcorn and styrofoam that cradles your internal product gives customers confidence, especially when the product doesn’t show visible damage.
Packages should also look smart, with clear branding, that expresses your brand personality. Use your brand colors, and include extra details, like a note inside thanking your customer for their order to make a good impression. You can make a good, memorable impression, and lessen the risk of having to replace orders that arrived damaged or broken by using good packaging.
4. Offer accurate tracking
We all know that when we place an order online, we want to get it as soon as possible We also like to know when our delivery will arrive. Accurate tracking ensures someone can receive the package when delivered, as well as handling anticipation.
For peace of mind, offer the option to track orders from the point of order to delivery. If you manage your shipping yourself, this is simple to do, but if you outsource to an outside agency, make sure you choose one that has reliable, informative shipping.
Useful tracking shows when the item left your facility, an expected delivery date, and if possible, a timed delivery slot, so people know when to expect their delivery and plan accordingly. Monitor tracking yourself, as well. Delayed shipments cause severe dissatisfaction but when you communicate delays to customers as soon as possible, the dissatisfaction is more manageable.
5. Use The Right Partners
Most businesses use outside courier firms to deliver their orders, but customers don’t care who delivers their orders as long as they arrive on time. If the courier you work with makes a mistake, and your customer receives their order late or damaged, or the parcel is lost completely, consumers hold you responsible for the loss, not the courier. If they have a bad experience with delivery, even the error was out of your control, it can put them off your company, driving them to use a competitor instead.
For this reason, it’s very important to choose the right delivery partner. They need to be reliable, with good communication. Check reviews to find the right delivery partner to represent your business.
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