Have you bought something online but failed to receive it?
Well, that’s what happened to hundreds of thousands of shoppers in the US after their next-day-deliveries failed to arrive when promised over 2018’s Christmas period.
This problem isn’t an isolated incident either. Research by Direct Home Line Insurance also found that 3.6 million UK online shoppers have had a delivery go missing over the past 12 months. 18 million had lost parcels in the last five years. Retailers didn’t go unscathed either, collectively losing up to £250 million of retail sales from undelivered and missing parcels.
More importantly, has the e-commerce delivery experience changed in 2019?
Even now, consumer trust in major logistics carriers has faltered over the last year in the US. Reported delivery issues are increasing and consumers are dissatisfied.
At the same time, the expectations of your customers around delivery have risen. They now expect faster delivery speeds, more flexible options, and free delivery.
How does this link to customer retention? And more importantly, what can be done about it?
Why e-commerce delivery experience matters for customer retention.
It has now become a habit for customers to research, read reviews and compare products and brands before purchasing.
And they review your overall customer experience, including:
- The quality of your product search and checkout experience
- How transparent you are with data protection and securing their personal data
- The shipping options available
Differentiate yourself through an excellent e-commerce delivery experience. The delivery options you offer have a direct impact on your prospective customer’s decisions to shop with you or not.
These stats show how important fulfillment and delivery is for customer retention.
- 88% of consumers are willing to pay for same-day or faster delivery.
- 64% of Millennials are more likely to make an online purchase if same-day delivery is an option, as are 56% of Gen Xers, 40% of Baby Boomers, and 63% of parents
- 71% of consumers are highly likely to recommend a retailer to others after purchasing a holiday gift and having it delivered the same day
Enhance your customer’s delivery experience and boost customer retention at these three points.
Think of the fulfillment process as a three-part process.
- At the point of order
- While the order is in transit
- When delivery is complete
1. At the point of order: Communicating delivery options and costs during the checkout.
Lay out all potential costs on the table during the checkout process. Getting hit by unexpected costs right before checkout is frustrating and causes prospective shoppers to abandon their carts.
Shoppers also review delivery options and how long they will take. For example, Lazada lays out all potential delivery options, how long they will take and any additional costs on their product pages.
Is offering free shipping a sound business decision? Psychologically, most customers prefer not to be surprised by an additional cost at checkout. We recommend building your shipping charges into your base prices, instead of imposing an additional shipping cost. If a customer wants a faster, more flexible delivery option, clearly communicate their costs.
How many delivery options should you offer your customers? Offer as many delivery options as possible. Convenience is one of the chief factors influencing customer’s final buying decisions.
Research reveals while 82% of customers surveyed opted for home delivery, alternative delivery options like in-store collection (44%), collection from a local pick-up point or in-store (39%), delivery to a workplace (19%) or a parcel locker (11%) are also growing in popularity. 8% also preferred delivery through a personal concierge service.
READ MORE: Ensure your logistics delivery set up can provide the flexibility you desire.
2. While an order is in transit: Keep your customers updated with their deliveries
So your customer has checked out from your store and you’ve got a new sale! Congratulations!
But wait, there’s still more opportunities for you to earn a new customer for life – by keeping them up to date on the delivery’s journey. Ask yourself, as a retailer, what can you do to make the delivery experience as convenient as possible?
Gone are the days where customers want to sit at home for hours, waiting for a delivery to reach them. Instead, the retailer needs to adapt to their customer’s schedule and offer a suitable delivery option for them.
Your customers today are busy, mobile people. They want to receive their order with as little hassle as possible. A majority (83%) of customers expect a guaranteed due date and 80% want to know when exactly to expect their delivery to arrive.
What can you do about it?
- Send branded proactive email communications:
We recommend frequent, proactive communication after checkout to stay connected with your customers, keep them updated on their delivery’s journey and manage their expectations if there are any delays while in transit.
Source: Sample email from our ready-made email templates. See them here.
If these emails are delivered in your own branding, you’re increasing your brand recall and your customers will feel that it’s your personal update to them. You’ll reassure your customers that you have their best interests at heart.
Make your delivery update emails so compelling that you turn a process usually fraught with uncertainty into something that’s more fun. Infuse your brand’s personality into these emails.
READ MORE: Check out how companies like Fitbit use post-purchase emails to keep customers updated on the delivery process while injecting some brand personality into their communications.
3. When the delivery is complete: Collect and respond to feedback from your customers
“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better”. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla.
Before you celebrate another successful delivery and sale after delivery, there is one more prime moment to collect customer feedback.
Source: Sample email from our ready-made email templates. See them here.
Understand this, an absence of feedback is not necessarily a sign of satisfaction. Data shows that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. The rest churn. Collecting customer feedback is a means to pre-empt and address issues before they escalate. Customers will also appreciate that you’re taking the time to listen to them.
READ MORE: See how brands like Toys R Us and Urban Outfitters navigate the tricky process of gathering feedback from their customers through post-purchase emails.
Conclusion: Opportunities remain for retailers to meet their customer’s delivery expectations and boost customer retention.
Customers care about delivery experience.
Start by actively thinking about the quality of your delivery experience at the point of checkout, after checkout and immediately after delivery.
If customers value active communication and delivery updates, how do your communication processes measure up? How are these delivery options communicated to your customers at the point of checkout? Are you taking the opportunity to gather feedback after a delivery is made?
Retailers who listen to their customers understand their changing expectations while analyzing and acting on feedback will differentiate themselves from the competition.
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Joshua is the Marketing Manager at Parcel Perform. He loves technology and a good book. Outside of e-commerce and Parcel Perform, you can find him in the kitchen, gym or yoga studio.