This article was written by one of our partners, Parcelhub, a multi-carrier shipping and ecommerce customer services solution.
As mission-critical as effective inventory management, delivering your items in a proactive, premium, yet cost-effective manner will help you build best-in-class customer loyalty, differentiate from your competition and increase customer lifetime value. This article outlines five areas to consider when optimizing your delivery processes.
1. Make it effortless for customers and prospects to contact you
To increase customer retention and drive profit maximization, it is of paramount importance that you are proactive with all customer communications. When dealing with delivery and product queries, from prospective website visitors, new customers or long term brand advocates, making it effortless for them to get in touch will make or break your business.
One method of achieving this is live chat; Forrester found that 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
According to Econsultancy, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone. While phone and SMS communications were among the least popular customer service touchpoints in this study, it can be argued that a competent online brand mustn’t rely upon live chat alone and should offer a wide range of touchpoints, which allow your prospects and customers to interact with your brand across a range of channels in a consistent format (e.g. consistent branding and tone of voice).
This has been coined as ‘omnichannel customer service’; by integrating live chat, SMS, direct mail, social, email, phone and in some cases in-store, customers and prospects can switch between channels without any degradation in customer service quality or the brand’s understanding of that customer or prospect.
2. Utilize multiple carriers
Not only do consumers expect a wide range of customer service touchpoints, they also demand flexibility with available delivery options. For example, a recent study by Accenture found that 70% of eTailers use more than one parcel provider, 73% of which do this to ensure they get the best price and 68% of which do this to ‘mitigate risk’.
Depending on level of urgency, product dimensions, product category and final destination, it is wise for online merchants to utilize a wide range of shipping services from multiple providers.
While some carriers’ core competency lies within domestic shipments, others are better suited to cross-border trading. Some consumers, particularly those purchasing expensive and time-critical products, demand in-flight options such as the ability to dynamically select a one or two hour delivery window.
Adverse weather, strikes and technical breakages can affect some carriers significantly more than others; by utilizing a broad range of carrier options and services, online sellers can safeguard themselves from being left without a service during, in worst case scenarios, peak periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
3. Impress your customers with superior packaging
Central to a great ecommerce customer experience, investing in bespoke, memorable, high quality packaging will encourage customers to make repeat purchases and even share their delight on social media.
A study featured in Packaging Digest found that consumers care about aesthetics nearly as much as shipping speed, with 40% of online shoppers saying they would be ‘somewhat more likely’ or ‘much more likely’ to purchase from a retailer that offers premium packaging.
Unsurprisingly, out of all the different product categories featured in the study, consumers rated ‘luxury goods’ as ‘Extremely Important’ for the use of premium packaging; while respondents deemed ‘sporting goods’ as the least important. This perhaps presents an opportunity for sporting goods retailers to differentiate by ‘going premium’.
4. Drive repeat purchases with multiple channels
A report by Pivot found that “52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online merchant that delivers premium packaging”. Packaging is an opportunity for retailers to communicate brand values and incentivize customers to purchase again and again.
By including exclusive offers in the form of vouchers within your delivery boxes and packets, customers can be encouraged to take actions such as signing up to monthly subscription plans, accessing exclusive products and qualifying for lower free delivery thresholds.
Naked Wines, for example, goes one step further by driving repeat purchases through a broad range of methods; not only does the wine retailer include exclusive deals and opportunities to visit member-only events, Naked Wines’ retention strategy infuses proactive, personalized email communications with their packaging and direct mail efforts.
While packaging is clearly of paramount importance, creating a single customer view; a fully integrated customer experience across a wide range of direct and digital channels, will ensure you stay relevant in the digital age. Synchronizing your packaging communications with other channels in terms of brand communications will ultimately make you look more professional.
5. Negotiate discounted rates by leveraging economies of scale
One of the key challenges online seller startups face is their inability to compete with larger, more established brands on price. As a result they have no choice but to ‘go premium’ to differentiate, with packaging, delivery, customer service and product quality.
Likewise, larger multichannel retailers lack the IT infrastructure that a logistics technology firm possesses, and so integrating with multiple carriers can become very time consuming and costly. Accessing services synonymous with major global brands normally comes at a premium, so it’s all a bit of a vicious cycle.
Uniquely with the delivery aspect it is possible to leverage the economies of scale of a third party; by utilizing an ecommerce shipping specialist, startup and established retailers can acquire shipping rates based on the shared, co-operative volumes of hundreds of other online retailers.
About Parcelhub – The bespoke parcel shipping solution.
Parcelhub is a multi-carrier shipping and ecommerce customer services solution. Flexible and scalable, it integrates seamlessly with order management systems, providing hundreds of multichannel retailers, global brands and wholesalers with one access point to many of the largest UK and international parcel carriers.
Multichannel ecommerce platforms are easily integrated and dedicated proactive parcel management comes as standard.
Distributing more than 6 million parcels on its own carrier contracts every year, Parcelhub’s free multi-carrier shipping software grants hundreds of national and global businesses access to 'pooled volume' discounted rates from its carefully selected range of carrier partners, including: Yodel, Hermes, DPD, UK Mail, DHL, Whistl, UPS, DX, Parcelforce, CollectPlus, SkyNet, ArrowXL, Interpost, Panther Logistics, Direct Link and Palletforce.