With more than a million eCommerce stores worldwide, competition is fierce and the industry is increasingly monopolistic. To dominate you simply have to differentiate. Simon Wright, Marketing Manager at Parcelhub, the multi-carrier shipping and eCommerce customer services solution give you his delivery tactics to help you stand out from your competitors, acquire and retain a loyal customer base.
1/ Deliver real-time multichannel customer service
From research through to purchase, repeat purchase and advocacy, consumers demand total transparency. In addition to offering the usual live chat, email and telephone support, ensure that you are also providing customer services via Facebook messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to respond with haste to delivery queries. Not only should you be active across all consumer touchpoints but you can decrease query traffic and enhance their delivery experience by including a clear FAQs section on your website, in addition to a detailed returns policy.
Utilising carrier data to proactively keep customers informed of their delivery progress via email and SMS will build trust; additionally, offering shipping services that include in-flight options such as 2 and 4 hour delivery windows will give your customers greater control.
2/ Offer a wide range of shipping services
Over 30% of the UK’s 220,000 online retailers use more than one shipping provider and this figure is growing. Utilising a broad range of carriers not only mitigates risk, but it also ensures that your carefully prepared product range is teamed up with the most efficient, performant and cost-effective services. While one carrier may be better suited to shipping bulkier items across the globe, another may be more competent at distributing high volume lightweight items domestically. Different carriers provide different levels of insurance cover, delivery times and tracking information so it makes sense for online stores to offer the most suitable service based on level of urgency and order value.
Not only will taking a multi-carrier approach make you more efficient, consumers’ perception of your brand will be improved dramatically; a recent Accenture study of more than 1,000 global retailers found that 66% of consumers have chosen between etailers based on their delivery options. The same study discovered that at the ‘zero moment of truth’, in this instance the order basket, 68% of abandoned carts are caused by dissatisfaction with delivery options. Ecommerce merchants should therefore pay just as much attention to their shipping setup as they do to product sourcing, development and marketing.
3/ Differentiate with premium packaging
With more and more merchants opting for premium packaging, this has led to shoppers increasingly expecting a luxurious packaging experience at all price points. While your choice of packaging will have very little impact on initial purchase value and conversion, ensuring low returns, high repeat purchase rates and best-in-class customer lifetime value hinges greatly on the quality of your product packaging. Packaging Digest, for example conducted an extensive survey of online shoppers and found that not only does premium packaging make eCommerce brands seem more upmarket, it gets consumers more excited about receiving their package and reinforces their purchase decision. Nielsen found that 55% of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products that are committed to being environmentally friendly. If you can source cost-effective, environmentally friendly packaging with a premium look and feel, you’re much more likely to generate repeat purchases.
4/ Know when to outsource your order fulfilment
One of the main reasons businesses fail is due to cash flow. Another is the fact that businesses reach a point where they achieve ‘critical mass’; the point at which further growth can only occur once a fundamental change is made. One of the only ways retailers can continue to grow is by investing in larger premises. A more risk-averse alternative is to outsource your reworking, picking, packing and distribution with an eCommerce fulfilment provider. Not only will it allow you to better focus on product sourcing/development, marketplace management, customer support and marketing but the sheer scale of a fulfilment provider will make for extremely low unit costs.
In addition to saving you time and money, an experienced, dedicated fulfilment specialist will advise on overcoming the challenges synonymous with sending unusual or restricted items and will grant the online seller access to enhanced despatch and stock management analysis tools.
5/ Leverage third party buying power
Without competitive shipping rates, retailers are forced to differentiate in areas other than price, such as customer service, packaging, influencer marketing and product quality. Reaching critical mass also stunts a merchant’s access to economies of scale with parcel carriers. Delivery management specialists enable multichannel retailers to acquire shipping rates based on the shared, co-operative volumes of all other shippers using that solution. Like a buying group, you can ‘club in’ with other online sellers to access carrier rates that are normally reserved to large scale global brands.