By Elissa Quinby, Senior Director, Retail Marketing at Quantum Metric
Shipping delays significantly impact retailers and consumers, leading to frustrations that can ultimately result in revenue losses and drops in customer retention. At a time when merchants are looking to cut costs to remain competitive, delivery disruption is a headache they really don’t need, but something they can’t ignore.
With Royal Mail workers set to hold numerous days of strike action during the peak postal build-up to Christmas, retailers must face the issue head-on. How? By diversifying shipping options, offering real-time customer alerts, and promoting hybrid shopping.
Broadening delivery partnerships
To prevent internal shipping issues from becoming the retailer’s problem, they must stop relying on one single carrier. By renegotiating contracts with existing shippers and broadening partnerships to include multiple carriers, merchants are more flexible.
Businesses may also consider investing in their own outbound logistics, as an alternative to traditional third-party shipping services. Not only does that give them more control over the delivery process, it also creates a new revenue stream.
Providing real-time alerts
Whichever shipping partners retailers choose, there’s still a chance customers will experience issues. Indeed, data from our benchmarking survey revealed that 67 percent of Brits had at least one package ‘ghosted’ – severely delayed or lost – in the last year.
With that in mind, retailers should stay connected with their customers and take responsibility for communicating delivery timelines, especially with the festive season approaching. How? By alerting shoppers about shipping estimates and activity at each critical moment in their purchasing journey, from the moment they click on a product to check out, plus each point after the item leaves the facility.
While it tends to be overlooked, providing easy access to post-purchase support is also crucial. As budgets tighten and delivery disruptions are on the horizon, retailers should focus more on this area.
Combined, these types of communication help people feel more informed, minimising frustration and cultivating long-term loyalty.
Prioritising hybrid shopping to curb delivery issues
Another way retailers can make an impact is by encouraging click and collect – a more cost-effective method than shipping products, with the added bonus of driving new revenue by bringing in foot traffic. It’s also fast and convenient for shoppers, eliminating the risk of missed deliveries.
To incentivise hybrid shopping, retailers can offer personalised deals and discounts, unique perks via loyalty programmes, or cut fulfilment time to hours rather than days. But as in-store traffic rises, it’s vital to take an omnichannel approach to customer insights by understanding how the digital experience (DX) translates when people get to the shop.
For example, online customer journey metrics may look strong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the brick-and-mortar experience is seamless. If people are confronted with long click-and-collect queues, they’re unlikely to use the service again, even if their DX was friction-free.
Only by looking at the whole picture, can retailers empathise and take action to ensure the end-to-end shopping experience is smooth. That’s where gathering data from customer surveys and building dashboards to correlate order volume with staffing and wait time come into play.
The ever-changing retail landscape
As retailers continue to see a steady increase in online sales, shipping delays become all the more impactful on the customer experience, retention rate, and revenue.
To mitigate the risk of delivery issues, these real-life actions will make a difference. Looking for alternative shipping means, improving customer communication, solidifying omni-channel experiences are all mitigating factors that can take away the pain for customers. Only then, do retailers differentiate themselves from the competition.