Shipping Isn’t Just a Delivery Service Priority. It’s a Retailer’s Responsibility, Too
The modern shopper experience extends far beyond the four walls of the physical store. In today’s omnichannel landscape, shipping has become an increasingly important part of the consumer experience. It’s not just product availability or quality that boosts brand image any longer; it’s the way an order arrives. Was it on time? Did it contain the correct items? Shipping and delivery are an extension of the business’s brand. Not surprisingly, 47 percent of consumers said in a recent survey that they would likely not shop with a retailer again after a bad shipping experience.
Bet on Shipping Solutions
Providing exceptional delivery is vital for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) to ensure customer satisfaction. SMBs need a trusted fulfillment and logistics partner that reflects their brand promise for seamless shipping experiences.
Large retailers have vast resources to speed up shipping, cut costs, and account for orders that arrive incorrectly or damaged. Conversely, many SMBs face a much different reality; they have little control over their customers’ shipping experiences. When mishaps occur, SMBs need the same capabilities as their larger counterparts to resolve issues quickly. It can mean the difference between a loyal or lost customer.
Forward-thinking SMBs are supercharging the online experience with technology that adds visibility and real-time updates as packages travel through the fulfillment process. Key priorities include eliminating paper-based processes in favor of digitized and traceable ones, facilitating communications throughout the supply chain and with customers, and optimizing inventory management so packages are accurately picked, packed and traced in real time.
Winning the Relay Race
For retailers, the job doesn’t end when the customer completes the checkout process or when the order is packed up and on its way to the customer’s home or designated pickup location. The system functions like a relay race, with the merchant handing off orders to a fulfillment center or directly to a shipping provider responsible for getting them to the right places.
Digitizing the entire tracing process improves both accuracy and efficiency. Mobile computers and barcode scanners are replacing paper-based work orders, making it easier for logistics workers to get the information they need and ensure the accuracy of parcels as they get on and off the truck. As radio frequency identification (RFID) becomes increasingly affordable, many SMBs are also investing in systems that allow for real-time passive data capture to supplement traditional barcode-based track-and-trace solutions.
The Importance of Inventory Visibility
Retail businesses should prioritize visibility through the last mile and look for warehousing and logistics partners that make it a priority.
Shoppers expect transparency throughout the purchase process, including up-to-date inventory information and order status updates until the moment items arrive at their doorstep.
When customers place online orders, they presume the items are in stock and ready to ship as soon as the same day. Delays or canceled orders due to out-of-stocks and back-orders can damage the customer's experience and loyalty. According to a recent survey, 79 percent of consumers want companies to notify them about delays and back-orders before they check out or purchase an item.
Customers’ expectations for service and inventory accuracy remain high. Shoppers presume their relationship is with the retailer, not a shipping provider. SMBs can leverage this direct connection with customers to stay in communication, proactively offer shipping updates, and respond to service requests as close to real time as possible. Taking these steps will help to avoid endless time spent on the phone or with a chatbot trying to reach customer service.
Amanda Honig is the SMB industry lead at Zebra Technologies, a company that empowers organizations to thrive in the on-demand economy by making every front-line worker and asset at the edge visible, connected and fully optimized.
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Amanda Honig is currently a Regional Portfolio Manager for Zebra in North America. In this role, she leads the strategy and roadmap for enterprise mobile computing by identifying investment priorities and ensuring product and solution requirements by use case, all while representing the voice of the customer across the region and providing strategic sales support. Leveraging her genuine passion for helping customers get the most out of our products, Amanda also serves as a small and medium-sized business (SMB) Industry Lead. She is one of many creative, tech-savvy advisors helping Zebra connect SMBs with breakthrough technology solutions that advance the way they work.
Amanda has more than 14 years of experience within the B2B technology industry and has held several leadership roles. She obtained an MBA from Long Island University and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University at Buffalo. Amanda is a super-curator who can disentangle complex technologies and apply them into real-world situations – especially for small and growing businesses.
Previously, she was the Sr. Manager, Manufacturing and Transportation & Logistics Vertical Marketing where she was responsible for the development of go-to-market strategy and priorities for both. She also served as the Americas Portfolio Marketing Manager for enterprise mobile computing at Zebra and as a Global Product & Solutions Marketing Manager at Motorola Solutions.