Delivery and Returns Experience Leaves Lasting Impression on Customers
Before the internet, only two factors mattered during the shipping process: timeliness and accuracy. Now, consumers expect to be informed and reassured at every step of the way.
Reassurance goes beyond telling customers that their package is on its way. Rather, retailers should remember that shipping represents customers’ final impression of them during the purchase process. Therefore, e-commerce brands should use the shipping and return processes as an opportunity to show that they care about the customer's overall experience.
According to UPS and comScore's Pulse of the Online Shopper Study, one of the best ways for brands to showcase their commitment to customers is to get delivery, returns and exchanges right. Usually that means offering lots of options and communicating every step of the way.
The UPS and comScore study exposed elements of the online shopping experience that drive brand preference, customer loyalty and recommendations. The survey found that delivery, returns and exchanges are major considerations for consumers when shopping online. Consider the following:
- Consumers want multiple shipping options to be offered, even though they gravitate toward the cheapest one. Almost nine out of 10 shoppers expect five-day to seven-day shipping to be offered (and 78 percent most often select it), while two-thirds expect three-day to five-day shipping (while only 16 percent usually select it). Forty-six percent expect next-day air shipping to be offered, even though only 1 percent actually use it on a regular basis.
- Half of consumers say online order tracking is an essential service. Of email tracking services, 71 percent of consumers say email notifications with an embedded tracking number is most essential. Nearly a third of consumers expect text alerts, indicating that increasingly mobile consumers may track packages via their smartphone.
- Two-thirds of consumers will shop more with a brand if it offers a hassle-free returns policy. Eighty-two percent said that being able to return a product in-store or with a pre-paid shipping label makes them more likely to complete a purchase.
Consumers expect the online shopping experience to be nearly as seamless as the in-store experience. While companies like Amazon.com are working to replicate the in-store experience via mobile, online retailers can provide a high-quality experience by committing to service and open communication.
Maria is CEO and co-founder of Dotcom Distribution, where she has played an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the operation, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. Her strategic leadership helps the Board and senior management to establish long-range goals, strategies, plans, and policies. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities. Maria holds a CPA. Prior to founding Dotcom, she began her career as an Auditor at Arthur Andersen and was the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video.