The number one question ecommerce brands get from their customers is, “When will my package arrive?!”
It is getting harder and harder for merchants to manage customer expectations as two-day, or same-day shipping become the norm. What many customers don’t realize is that technically once a package is in the hands of the carrier, there’s really nothing the merchant can do to speed up the delivery.
There are ways to help alleviate this stress, both for merchants and for their customers. Here are four key ways you can give your customers a better delivery experience. They may even thank you by coming back for more business.
1. Give Customers Clear, Simple Shipping Options
No matter the shipping service you use (overnight, two-day, ground, etc.) or the strategy you employ to incentivize buyers to smash that “Order” button (free shipping, expedited shipping, etc.), the number one factor in keeping your customers satisfied at checkout is clear communication. Employ these tactics to simplify your shipping options.
- Set a limit. Provide no more than two or three options, maximum. If a customer gets too many options, they’re likely to click on one without reading the details or become overwhelmed and abandon the cart all together.
- Split the difference. If you’re trying to give customers the fastest shipping possible, but also offer shipping discounts to incentivize more buying, you’re out of luck. These two options are in direct competition of each other. Let your customers decide which is more important to them: cheap shipping that may take a few more days, or expedited shipping that comes with a premium cost.
2. Use Your Data to Provide Accurate Delivery Time Predictions
Have you ever looked at the average transit times of your carrier throughout the year? In the past two years actual delivery time have fluctuated significantly. As ecommerce volume has skyrocketed, shipping carriers have struggled to keep up with demand. Here is a tracker to follow the transit times of the major carriers this year.
Predicting actual delivery times is not easy, but the closer you can get, the happier your customers will be.
There are many third-party applications that can give you parcel delivery data. Use this to inform your service choices, routing options, and overall shipping strategy. If mining delivery data sounds too time consuming, or you don’t have the data to do this, ask your 3PL to help.
3. Give Customers a Clear Estimated Delivery Date
Even more than fast shipping, customers have come to expect real-time delivery notifications and exact delivery times. No one wants their package to arrive later than they expect, but if it comes much earlier than expected, that could cause an issue as well. For example, in some areas it may be a liability to have a package sitting unattended on a doorstep for too long.
One of the biggest points of friction in customer service is when a customer calls to say “Where’s my package? I was promised two-day shipping!” only to realize that those “two-days” did not mean they would receive a package two days after they clicked “buy.”
Be specific when outlining your shipping options in the checkout process. Make it very clear that the estimated shipping dates are applicable once their order is assembled, prepared, and on a truck.
Other tactics you can take that help include:
- Provide real-time updates throughout the shipping process. Many brands set up custom notifications to be sent when there are change to a customer’s order. For example, emails or texts can alert the customer when their order is ready to be shipped, shipping, and out for delivery.
- Encourage your customer to take ownership of their delivery window. FedEx and other large carriers now have options like delivery holds, vacation hold, and scheduled pickups. Give your customers the information so that they can work directly with the carrier to schedule exactly when they want their delivery to arrive.
4. Make it Personal or Give it Your Brand Personality
Personalization feels high value when it comes to customer service. The delivery experience you offer might be the only direct customer interaction you get (outside of the buying experience). Make it count.
Here are a few ways you can add a personal touch to your package deliveries.
- Add a message on the packing sheet.
- Offer custom messages to be created at checkout and placed in the box.
- Stickers or branded tape are inexpensive ways to add branding to a regular brown box.
- Send a custom email or text post-delivery.
- Follow up with your customer with an automated email or text two days post-delivery.
How a 3PL Can Help Optimize Your Shipping Costs and Delivery Times
If delivery times are stressing you out, work with your 3PL to come up with a plan. An experienced fulfillment provider will offer value-added services that provide you and your customers a great delivery experience.
Outside of the suggestions above, your 3PL should also help you optimize your shipping strategy. This includes:
- Picked the right carrier and service for your brand
- Reviewing your shipping detail regularly to ensure you’re not overpaying in shipping fees
- Negotiating better rates with your carrier
The bottom line is you want to keep your shipping fees low, and your delivery times fast. There are so many variables to this that working with a reputable partner is the only way to do it right.