With new consumer behaviors creating major increases in online shopping amid the pandemic, the retail industry faced an end of the year “shipageddon” in 2020, which came with new restrictions, costly deadlines and anxious holiday shoppers.

From a consumer’s perspective, the delivery experience has always been tied to the overall shopping experience, with expectations for a transparent delivery experience expressed even before COVID-19 continuing to gain momentum. In fact, the delivery experience affects not only purchase habits but brand perception as well – ultimately creating wavering loyalty and causing consumers to think twice before
ordering again.

Though it may seem like an external task, the brands coming out on top are those who have taken ownership of the post-purchase experience. Convey, a delivery experience management solution, helps brands do this by guaranteeing better visibility and better customer experience with a holistic approach that helps brands make delivery promises they can keep. By being proactive, the company says, retailers are able to tackle the problems of cost, speed and customer experience to live up to expectations and solve challenges at all stages to stay competitive.

Here, Jenny Bebout, Co-founder and Vice President, product at Convey, talks to Fairchild Studios about new consumer expectations, what can be learned from last year’s high shipping rates and proactively managing the shipping experience for the consumer.

Fairchild Media Group: In terms of delivery, what are consumers’ expectations today?

Jenny Bebout: The biggest evolution in delivery is the expectation of brand ownership of the last-mile delivery experience. Consumers expect the brand they are shopping with to own the experience from the time they press buy until the time the item is in their hands. Whether it’s fair or not, that means that the delivery experience and all the solution providers that go into getting that item from A to B are an extension of the retailer’s brand.

And with at-home purchases booming and mobile shopping experiences getting more sophisticated, customers expect flexibility and transparency from brands and retailers. They want choices like in-store pickup, mobile alerts, or scheduling options for white-glove delivery. Full cycle transparency means the customer expects to know the details of their order from fulfillment to shipping and delivery. This information has become part of the product itself.

Amazon has definitely raised consumer expectations around cost and speed. In fact, our most recent consumer survey revealed that 73 percent of consumers shop at Amazon exclusively because of fast, free shipping. And beyond that, Amazon has also created expectations of consistency and reliability of deliveries. No matter who is fulfilling or delivering the item, we’ve come to expect we will receive the same experience both in terms of look and feel
and results.

FMG: What are the most common problems in the delivery process?

J.B.: When you peel back the layers, you’ll find the ability to quickly analyze disparate data is at the root of the majority of delivery issues. A lot of retailers struggle to piece together the last-mile journey to understand what the shopper is really experiencing. And being able to track every package across a diversified network of carriers, let alone your operations upstream, can get complex really quickly. There are different origins and services levels to consider, not to mention millions of customer destinations. Managing all of that information and being able to simplify and communicate it to customers can’t be done without the right technology.

FMG: How much do delivery exceptions cost retailers every year?

J.B.: The cost spent to resolve delivery issues such as delays, incorrect addresses, or damages can add up very fast. The net impact to the retailer can depend on several factors, but the most common one is customer support. WISMO, or where is my order, calls represent up to 30 percent of all inbound care team calls for retailers and each one costs an average of $5 to manage.

It’s also important to note that the delivery experience is a leading cause of negative NPS & CSAT scores, so a bad delivery experience has a direct impact on customer retention. If a retailer can increase customer retention by 5 percent, it can lead to an increase of profits by at least 25 percent. Our data shows that a new customer is 5-20 percent likely to make a purchase, while existing customers are 60-70 percent.

FMG: What can retailers do toprepare for continued preference for online shopping and at-homedeliveries?

J.B.: COVID and “Shipageddeon” have put an enormous amount of pressure on retailers to communicate with customers at every stage of the delivery- from dollar to doorstep. In 2021, proactive communication is no longer a consideration, but an absolute necessity. It goes beyond a tracking page – you have to keep your customers informed and not rely on carriers to communicate a delivery issue.

Today’s customer expects brands to provide full delivery transparency from the start. Providing accurate delivery date estimates is critical. Our post-holiday consumer survey revealed that 47 percent of shoppers are unlikely to shop with a retailer again after a poor shipping experience.

The new expectation is for the retailer to communicate issues and take action to remedy problems. It’s also important to meet your audience where they are by providing live updates via email, text and in-app. Because at the end of the day, the customer isn’t going to fault the carrier for a delivery exception, they are going to blame the brand.

The delivery journey is an opportunity to surprise and delight customers as they anticipate receiving their order. Customers may love your brand, but they will think twice before ordering again if they have doubts about when their packages will arrive.

And with at-home purchases booming and mobile shopping experiences getting more sophisticated, customers expect flexibility and transparency.”

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