Going The Distance With ShippingBY Fran Ereira
Retailers today are competing on more fronts than before; not only do you need to stay on top of the traditional Four Ps of marketing (price, product, promotion, and place), you need to do it in a fast-moving environment of global marketplaces, niche merchants, and fickle shoppers. Next year, 30.6% of the world’s population is expected to shop online, and bring in US$2.3 billion in sales - and as Internet and smartphone adoption continues to grow, so will the sophistication of eCommerce experiences. This is where shipping can be an advantage, and why it’s time for Australian retailers to use it.
Today’s best retailers understand that shipping is no afterthought; Amazon’s success is widely accredited to its excellent shipping strategy that puts the customer’s needs first, resulting in a “retail revolution” led by delivery logistics. In Australia, THE ICONIC, who is seeing a 60% year on year growth, leads the pack with not two or three - but five delivery options that reflect the lifestyle of its upwardly mobile customers. While your business may not mirror the ambitions of either of these trendsetters, there’s no ignoring the fact that 85% of Australians told us in a late 2015 survey that they abandoned their carts due to shipping-related reasons.
Experienced retailers will tell you it takes more than adding on a few extra shipping options, or securing the fastest or cheapest delivery services, to achieve results from a shipping strategy revamp. Finding the right balance between delighting your customers, and growing profit margin have often prevented retailers from being agile when it comes to shipping and fulfillment. To make things easy, we’ve highlighted seven key areas in The Delivery Advantage e-book, to help you get started:
1. Optimising packaging
Great packaging makes your brand stand out, so why not take this opportunity to also be smart about it? Applying packaging logic will help your team accurately quote shipments and fulfill orders faster, as it takes the guesswork out of matching the type and size of box required for each online order - regardless of whether it has one bulky item, or multiple fragile items.
Benefit: Aside from saving on delivery costs and packaging material, you’ll get orders out the door quicker - which means your customer will get it faster.
2. Updating shipping options
When online shopping first started, I’d be chuffed if I received my order on time in about a week or two - especially if I didn't need to call the company to follow up on the order, but not anymore. Today’s shoppers want options: 85% of Australians want multiple shipping options at checkout, with same-day, weekend, and after hours delivery proving popular.
Benefit: Offering a variety of shipping options that’s relevant to your customer base can help you convert more shoppers into customers, and provide you with the chance to create value around ‘free shipping’ campaigns.
3. Determining shipping costs
Finding the right balance between revenue and profit can be hard, especially in the cutthroat world of eCommerce - and shipping orders can get expensive. While ‘free shipping’ still sways many shoppers, an encouraging 62% of Australians are willing to spend more to qualify for this service - so use this to your advantage.
Suggestion: Offset the costs of fulfillment by enabling technology to drive most of the process, and consider offsetting delivery fees with the savings you’ve made, or expand your shipping options to include click-and-collect. This way, you’ll be closer to offering free shipping with little to no impact to your bottom line.
4. Choosing carriers
The explosion of ecommerce has resulted in an emergence of a diversified carrier industry where iconic incumbents rub shoulders with nifty startups for a share of the delivery pie. How are you taking advantage of these options to serve your customers better?
Suggestion: Match your carrier with the type of delivery service you require, and make sure your shipping platform has a plan to support your needs in the future.
5. Tracking orders
We all lead busy lives, so having the ability to keep track of purchases at a glance makes life easier. With 81% of shoppers admitting to checking on their online orders at least twice, and 89% of Australians expecting easy online tracking of their deliveries, offering customers more visibility is great for retention.
Benefit: Free up your customer service team to focus on other issues, aside from following up on deliveries, so more customers can be served more quickly.
6. Enhancing returns
While retailers prefer for customers not to return purchased goods, having a great returns policy backed up with a seamless self-service returns experience with easy instructions, and drop off options, is important, especially so for online retailers.
Benefit: It helps with conversion as shoppers (whose senses are deprived from not being able to touch and feel the products) feel safe about committing to an online purchase, and saves time from needing to engage in back-and-forth communications.
7. Managing infrastructure
To enable all the above to operate efficiently, you’ll need to ensure that your technical infrastructure is up to par, and robust enough to scale according to your future plans.
Suggestion: Work backwards to your launch date, and make sure your contingency plans are in place before announcing any major changes.
I hope the seven points featured here will help you get a head start, or at the very least break down the perception that making changes to your shipping and fulfillment is too complicated. Regardless of the size of your ecommerce business, remember this: you’re competing not only with players in your category, you’re competing with everyone. So let’s make sure that you’re ahead of the game.
Download The Delivery Advantage e-book for a complete guide to revamping your shipping strategy, or feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like to know how Temando’s shipping and fulfillment technology can help you be a winner.
Note: Unless referenced, all data in this article is derived from a shopper survey that Temando commissioned in October 2015, which featured responses from 1011 Australian shoppers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fran is the VP APAC of shipping and fulfillment technology company, Temando.