One thing is for certain, the Internet isn’t going away. It’s sure to undergo more innovative changes in the coming years. Also, we know we’ll continue to make purchases via digital channels. The decline of brick and mortar stores and the shift to ecommerce sales channels means product delivery has become a key ingredient for success.
This change will affect the customer experience for consumers and businesses alike. However, this blog will focus on business to business buyers. The volume of transaction made in business buying is much higher and complex than the consumer to consumer buying.
Product delivery speed and reliability are important weapons that companies can use to stay ahead of the competition. Speed assures buyers their purchases arrive on time while reliability assures buyers the product delivered is what they ordered. There is an increase in abandoned purchases as a result of inadequate product delivery options because few people have little patience when it comes to excellent delivery of the orders they place.
There is a need for a foolproof product delivery strategy in order to fulfill goals in a way that remains appealing to your customers. Often times, customers experience frustrations and the resultant effect is an abandoned shopping cart, and most especially, lost sales. Thus, the need for increased speed and visibility influences the logistics chain heavily.
Product delivery does not just signify the arrival of ordered goods, but encompasses so much more. Every single piece of the pie has to do with product delivery. This includes everything from delivery presentation and marketing, right down to the time and method of delivery. Your customers will place great importance in all of these.
What do Customers Want?
Writers include question and exclamation marks purposely for emphasis. How to draw customer attention is the question all businesses ask. They all vie to answer this question and escape the maze of unproductiveness they’re in.
Business buyers and consumers alike all have misgivings about the product delivery process of most ecommerce stores. It could stem from exorbitant delivery costs, lack of any suitable delivery option or a plain lack of faith in the seller’s product delivery system in place. Perhaps failure of an online delivery system has frustrated even you at some point in time. The increase in delivery delays comes with the increase in dissatisfaction in the product delivery experience of brands, all ending with a frustrated “I will not shop here again!”
Customers want a clear and accurate tracking system in place to keep them updated on the progress of the orders they have placed. They want interactive communication about their order even before it arrives. This can be done through email, texts or phone calls in order to accommodate specification changes if there are any.
Customers want a brand that is ready to own up to lapses in their purchase system especially when product delivery issues come up. They want to know about any issue that comes up regarding their orders. Hence, ecommerce stores must find best ways of rendering excellent customer service especially when customers encounter one product delivery problem or another.
Customers will always come back for a repeat purchase if a brand can deliver at affordable prices, flexible shipping options and fast delivery of orders placed. This shows that you must devise strategies to improve your product delivery in order to meet all these expectations. All these will require time and investment.
Product Delivery Delays
In order to find a way to make product delivery systems more effective for ecommerce stores, there is need to go back to the root of the problem to fish out possible causes of delivery delays. If you don’t manage delivery delays well, they can devastate your ecommerce business. Delivery experiences may be the test to judge the personality of a brand, influencing its identity. This is why any customer that has to put up with a delivery delay on the first order may decide not to buy from your site again.
One major cause of delivery delays is making a documentation mistake. It has dual roots and can come from the company or the business buyers themselves. Documentation mistakes include misspelled addresses, incomplete information, incomplete order forms, and human error as a result of poorly managed multi-tasking. All these affect the delivery of products quickly and reliably.
Ecommerce is a 24/7 marketplace unrestricted by location. Hence, system failure, bad hosting, and other technicalities affect the ability of a store to deliver reliably and on time.
Deliver Products Quickly and Reliably
Having done a little introduction, it is necessary to explore the importance of having a good delivery strategy. There can be little denial timely delivery is a must.
Increase Conversion Rates
Conversion rates increase with the boost in customer confidence an efficient delivery system generates. While bad news travels faster than good ones, this does not express in any way that good news doesn’t travel at all.
Delivery options and prices should display clearly on every page of your site, including checkout and basket pages. Prices should not be hard to find, but instead clearly visible to customers. Only then can they make good purchase decisions.
Your excellent delivery strategy can set you apart from competitors. Your site will easily stand out from those that don’t deliver on promises. This creates buzz around your uniqueness, resulting in increased sales and a favorable brand image.
Positive Business Results
The prompt and accurate delivery of orders creates value for your buyers. In return, you gain positive business results. The value created is the delivery of products at the right place, in the right condition for customer needs. These positive results create widespread buzz for your business, increased goodwill, and improved brand reputation.
Increase Repeat Purchases
Your delivery strategy is a source of competitive advantage for your offering, turning visitors into customers and customers into repeat buyers. Thus, delivering on your promise is sure to improve your brand image in their mind’s eyes and wow them. A good delivery ensures that there is a mechanism in place for handling issues when they come.
The end goal in e-commerce is the transformation of buyers into repeat buyers which your delivery mechanism can provide. Ensuring that orders are received in satisfactory condition at the right time will go a long way to help make the transformation a reality.
Repeat customers are the cash cows of every business and one whose needs should be properly taken note of. At the back of your mind should be the knowledge that repeat sales does not come by accident but a conscious effort by a brand to wow the customer at all touch points with them.
Do Your Homework
First things first; do your homework and do not forget that preparation is very important! You need to carry out research into delivery issues so that real facts are used to select the best alternative. There is need to identify your delivery needs and goals in order to direct the actions you will take to ensure you are headed in the right direction.
Your delivery goals should address the increase in efficiency, improvement in customer service, increase in online sales, and improved relationships between your business and buyers. All these should be taken into consideration as goals and objectives are being set. Information about shipping costs, competitive delivery practices amongst others should be at your fingertips.
There is need to answer the dilemma of whether to outsource or not to. Do you have adequate resources to be able to handle logistics internally or will you use the services of a third party logistics provider? This can be properly answered with adequate research.
The issue of returns should be addressed in the phase of logistics policy formulation. Buying online comes with the possibility of returns because the product is not physically present to be handled and properly inspected. A survey conducted revealed that 81% of customers will go for businesses that offer easy and free returns. The allowance of returns comes with its own problems; hence, research and proper consultations should be made, with pros and cons tabulated in order to make the best decisions that will deliver best customer experiences.
Packaging Is Important
More than the generic benefit of protecting and preserving the product, there should be a special “feel” that your packaging should give. Some experiences of customers have left them discontented with the purchase they made. Ecommerce stores need to keep up with consumers’ unrestricted purchases.
Since business buyers cannot physically handle the product, the packaging their order comes in becomes their first impression of you (which is a really huge deal you cannot afford not to take advantage of). Some studies reveal that an average number of customers have the belief that the packaging of their shipment reveals the level of importance the seller has about them and the order they placed.
Your Word Is Your Bond
Your promise should be so sacred that it should not be broken. If it is broken despite your well-thought-out plans, a mechanism for service recovery should be put in place. There should be a minimum and maximum delivery time which should be quite realistic. This is in order to strike a balance between putting unnecessary pressure to meet up and disappointing customers from the resultant delays. Remember, the reason why a purchase is made is to meet utilities, of which time utility is included.
No matter the additional benefits and promises your product comes with, if delivery is promised in 48 hours, it should be done so consistently. If orders made are not received within the specified time, there is a disconnection between a buyer and a brand, ultimately leading to disastrous results. The moment a business loses sight of the need to fulfill brand promises; it starts to have a decline.
It is preferable to promise delivery within five working days (even if it can be ready in two days) than make a promise of two days and eventually end up disappointing your customers. The secret is not to overpromise but to make a realistic promise and delight your customers by delivering it in less time than promised.
There is a need for transparency in shipping rates and delivery conditions; it will earn you customer loyalty. While transparency is exercised, there is need to also apply flexibility. Thus, consumers should be offered as many options as possible. They should not have a reason to abandon their shopping carts.
Update Your Inventory
Have you ever clicked to buy an item you absolutely loved only to get an error message? This must have produced a myriad of negative emotions, right?
A defective inventory can be quite misleading to buyers. There is need to properly classify your inventory to ensure that stock levels are maintained especially for fast-moving products. This will go a long way to help save time in the process of order fulfillment. Hence, your inventory should be regularly updated to prevent the occurrence of incidences.
The proper update of inventory can help one avoid stock-outs (such as the one illustrated above). After all the effort spent in product promotion, the product should be on hand when requested. Management of inventory can help increase profit margins because it allows the efficient movement of goods. This can offer a business competitive advantage.
Use Logistics Software
Using automated logistic software goes a long way to ensure accuracy. This is especially true when regularly updating data. The Amazon effect has increased the demands of customers with regards the time of receipt of orders placed. Amazon offers same-day delivery for many products that are offered through its market platform. This ultimately means more work for you.
Using automated logistics can help reduce costly errors that can be gotten from manual data entry, helping brand deliver better customer experiences. This is highly important especially when you realize that it costs you so much to lose just one customer. Your overall strategy will determine which logistics software you use. Remember, it must also be in line with your delivery goals and objectives. There is need to determine the best way to integrate your logistics software into your overall business strategy.
An automated system also helps one make relevant business decisions as a result of access to stored trends and history. Having valuable data will help you see a clearer picture of the costs of each decision you make.
Use a unified platform that can integrate all aspects of the supply chain in the management of logistics. It should be one that can easily harmonize all links of your supply chain network.
A number of ecommerce stores use the services of courier companies with a specialty in handling logistics and delivery for their delivery needs. However, there is need to properly assess them and find the best one that can help you achieve your delivery goals.
The contract drawn with these companies should communicate a clear message and should be easy to understand. Courier companies can offer flexible delivery packages that can save you time and avoid unnecessary delays. It really is okay to ask for help when it comes to the issue of logistics, especially when you do not have the resources at your disposal to fulfill orders on time.
A lot of stores can benefit from the advantage that courier companies can bring to the table. Courier companies can offer services that will increase overall performance, reduce costs and allow you focus on other demanding business activities. Outsourcing your order fulfillment function also allows you make the most of technology without the accompanying risks.
Include Surprise Freebies
We are not just trying to deliver products quickly and reliably but also do it well that they have no other choice than to come back for more from the brand experience gotten. A surprise gift sounds a bit complicated, but it is really not; a little thoughtful gift can have a huge impact. The gift really does not have to be expensive for it to make an impression.
Surprise freebies are a great way to delight customers and create impressions that will live on and influence further purchase actions they take. Unconsciously, buyers psychologically incline toward your brand in a bid to repay the favor.
Put It Together to Win
Delivery is one factor buyers consider before trusting a brand. This is why consumers are quick to point out that unreliable delivery is what discourages them from buying online. Surveys have revealed 60% of customers say their central reason for online shopping is delivery convenience. This means that a defective delivery system is a liability to the success of the company.
Quick and reliable product delivery is key to success. As earlier said, product delivery does not start and end with the receipt of goods. Instead, it’s traceable back to buyer shopping experience. This is also true of the processes and technology necessary for order fulfillment.
A lot can go wrong at different stages of these processes, with particular reference to order placement and delivery. Online checkout pages should be shorter and should enable easy filling. If brands cannot fulfill these expectations with the resources at hand, outsource the function. Third party logistics firms have the capacity to handle your customers’ delivery needs.
With the increase in the popularity of online stores, buyers are increasing their expectations of what the delivery experience should be like. This is why delivery of products is a challenge for ecommerce stores and finding a flexible delivery option becomes quite a necessity.
Your business consumers will have brand experiences that will fall within three conclusions; below expectations, equal to expectation and exceed expectations. Brands that wish to expand and grow into industry standards will aim to exceed the expectations of their buyers and delight them.
You cannot make a mistake in your product delivery because it is your image and reputation at stake, which will go a long way to influence your customer retention rates. Consistent customer communication so customers stay informed every step of the way in their order fulfillment is crucial.
Now that you know the ins and outs of product delivery, click here to see what Catsy can do for you.