Beyond the Cart: Top Trends Shaping the Delivery Experience
E-commerce brands have been through a tumultuous few years. The pandemic in 2020 brought a surge in online shopping which has never subsided. As consumers have increased their online purchases, their expectations for low cost, simple, fast and reliable delivery have also grown. Retailers are recognizing that the delivery experience can have a huge impact on brand loyalty — and few things are as detrimental to a customer relationship as a poor delivery experience.
In previous years, brand managers and customer experience leaders were often excluded from shipping vendor decisions. Today, as more organizations break down the silos between the teams supporting their e-commerce efforts, brand managers and CX leaders are becoming more involved in the delivery strategy.
Shipping Industry Trends Currently Shaping the Delivery Experience
In 2023, e-commerce brands watched the UPS workforce contract negotiations unfold with bated breath. Fortunately the strike was averted, but the tenuous situation left many savvy e-commerce brand managers and logistics teams rethinking their delivery processes and leaning into a diversified multicarrier delivery strategy that included regional last-mile delivery providers. According to Deloitte, a more diversified carrier mix that leverages last-mile delivery solutions can “support growth and service performance.”
Another major trend currently impacting the shipping industry: National carriers have been raising prices faster than inflation for the past several years. This trend will continue in 2024, with FedEx and UPS both announcing planned increases of 5.9 percent. That’s in addition to volume-based peak season surcharges which increase as volumes increase, putting the shipping industry in the unique position of being one of the few competitive spaces where customers are penalized for using more of a provider’s services.
The Future of E-Commerce Delivery Strategies
Greater Focus on Delivery Strategies
In the months ahead, forward-thinking brands that take a customer-centric approach to every aspect of their business will become laser-focused on the delivery experience. In the same way they create delightful packaging designs that optimize the unboxing experience, brand managers and CX teams will be equally thoughtful about their delivery strategies.
E-commerce brands will look to partner with delivery service providers that not only meet, but exceed customer expectations. The biggest demand of these partners will be leading-edge technology that enables a brand to communicate with their customers throughout the delivery process and offers real-time tracking capabilities for the consumer.
Leveraging Regional Last-Mile Delivery Solutions to Surpass the 'Amazon Experience'
As we look toward the future, more e-commerce brands will rely on regional last-mile delivery providers to move their shipping strategies beyond the “fast and free” deliveries promised by Amazon Prime. Because innovative regional providers are able to offer brands on-time delivery rates well above the industry standard without additional fees, brands will take advantage of the added benefits of these services as they build out their multicarrier strategies.
Ultimately, the combination of more dynamic delivery routes, cutting-edge technology, and enhanced customer communication capabilities will make regional last-mile delivery providers a key part of an exceptional e-commerce delivery experience.
The Promise of Sustainable Deliveries
It’s no secret that consumers are increasingly more aware of their impact on the environment and want to support brands that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Many brands are under the false impression that a sustainable delivery process translates to higher costs and slower delivery times. However, tech-forward regional last-mile delivery providers are changing the game — leveraging dynamic routing technology to reduce unnecessary miles and optimizing vehicle utilization to lower the carbon footprint of every package delivered while simultaneously reducing costs and maintaining on-time delivery rates. This year we will see more environmentally-friendly brands taking advantage of the sustainable shipping processes that last-mile delivery solutions provide.
The Gift of an Exceptional Delivery Experience
E-commerce brands don't need consumer studies to tell them that their customers want a “fast and free delivery experience” that's as seamless as possible. When you consider how many customers will stop purchasing from a brand after one bad delivery experience, it becomes clear the impact a brand’s shipping strategy has on its most critical business outcomes. In the quest to create an exceptional customer experience, brands that prioritize their delivery strategies will undoubtedly emerge as the trailblazers of tomorrow's e-commerce landscape.
Raj Ramanan is the CEO of AxleHire, a last-mile delivery company that helps retailers and brands meet or exceed their customers’ expectations.
Raj Ramanan is the CEO of AxleHire, a last-mile delivery company that helps retailers and brands meet or exceed their customers’ expectations. Earlier roles include leadership positions at Scorpion, a digital marketing services provider, Loku, which he co-founded, and various roles at The Walt Disney Company and Nexstar Media Group.