For a small business owner, one of the biggest challenges of competing in the ecommerce space is handling the supply chain logistics that come with processing deliveries and sending customers their orders in an accurate and timely manner. While larger companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart have mastered this aspect of their business, it’s not as simple for the smaller guys. It certainly doesn’t have to be difficult, though.
Enhance Your Customer Delivery Process
Speaking of the ecommerce giants, did you know that same day delivery is growing at a rapid rate? Revenues are expected to reach $620 million this year, which is six times higher than it was last year. And while customers don’t expect small businesses to offer same day delivery services, it’s clear that this commitment from large companies is putting a lot of pressure on businesses of all sizes to improve efficiencies and speed up processes.
How you respond in the wake of this pressure could be the difference between constantly putting out fires and successfully scaling your ecommerce business. Here are a few tips for how you can improve your customer delivery efficiency.
Provide an Estimated Delivery Date
When selecting between two online vendors selling similar products, one of the deciding factors for customers is delivery time. According to studies, more than half of online shoppers want to see estimated delivery dates and shipping costs before completing the checkout process. This gives customers an idea of when the product will arrive and how much more will be tacked onto the order price.
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It may seem like common sense, but a number of online stores are still missing this piece. If that’s you, you’re at a severe disadvantage when compared to competitors that offer these simple estimations.
Imagine you have a customer who’s shopping for an anniversary present for his wife. He’s procrastinated so long that he needs the gift in hand within two days. Which delivery method does he need? Will it arrive in time? Before he can answer these questions, he’s probably already moved on to a competitor who can quickly provide him with these precise location-based estimates at checkout.
Always Send Notifications
It’s important that you integrate a shipping notification process into your system. These notifications should be sent when the delivery is handed off to the carrier, so the customer knows when the delivery is expected to arrive, and can make arrangements for receipt of the package, if necessary. By sending these notifications, you also reduce the number of emails and phone calls you receive from customers asking about whether an order has been shipped and when it’s expected to arrive.
Provide Different Options
As mentioned in the previous example of the man buying an anniversary gift, customers often have different needs. By providing multiple delivery options, you can satisfy these demands and avoid losing customers due to shipping concerns.
For example, if you use UPS, they offer as many as eight different shipping services that allow everything from same day to five business days. FedEx has five different options, ranging from overnight to five business days. USPS obviously has a range of services, as well.
While most customers will go with the cheapest option, there are times when speed is highly valued. The more options you offer, the more customers you can attract.
Offer SMS Updates
One of the newer trends in delivery notification involves the use of SMS to notify customers of specific delivery times. These updates are especially valuable on the day of the delivery, when an individual may need to be home in order to accept the package. By sending a simple text message that reads, “Your delivery is expected to arrive between 3pm-6pm today at [insert address],” you can help customers avoid the frustrations of missing packages.
Tie Deliveries to Incentives
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to picking, packing, and shipping packages in an efficient manner. If you want to make quick and accurate deliveries a focal point of your business, you must get your employees onboard. One of the best ways to do this is by directly tying delivery performance to employee incentives. Reward employees for quicker shipping times and withhold rewards for poor results. This is one of the more effective ways to improve the customer delivery process from the inside out.
Put the Customer First
If you really want to enhance your delivery processes, increase speed, and focus on accuracy, you must put the customer first. Each time you come up with a new method, think about it from the perspective of the customer.
Does it improve their experience? Are there aspects that can be tweaked to reduce friction? These are questions that must be answered if you want to be a customer-centric ecommerce business that’s able to compete with larger competitors for years to come.