What are your consumers looking for from their deliveries? With so much competition in the delivery industry, it's easy to forget about who's at the other end of your deliveries: the customer.
These past several years have revealed that more and more consumers are turning to eCommerce for their shopping needs. In fact, it's estimated that up to 95 percent of all purchases will take place online by 2040.
Consumers have found that they have ever-increasing options, so fulfilling their expectations has become an ongoing challenge. While many supply chain issues may be tough to tackle, businesses can build trust and loyalty with customers by focusing on transparency and living up to delivery promises.
What Customers Expect from the Delivery Experience
Delighting customers is about more than just selling a product they want at a competitive price. More and more, it's about making delivery promises and keeping them. When it comes to your business's delivery strategy, here are some of the things your customers expect based on recent research.
1. Free Delivery
Consumers overwhelmingly want free shipping. And they are even willing to wait a bit longer to receive their purchases in exchange. This might seem like a costly strategy for businesses. But it's really just optics since most businesses will account for order fulfillment costs in their pricing. If a business doesn't offer free shipping, at least over a certain purchase threshold, it is likely to lose customers to a competitor.
2. Fast Delivery
Some online retailers, like Amazon, have set a high bar when it comes to delivery times and setting sky-high consumer expectations. While customers can get same-day delivery in some markets, it turns out this isn't at the top of most customer lists.
According to one survey, about 80% of customers prefer same-day shipping. But they don't expect same-day or next-day delivery. Instead, most customers want reliability and predictability baked into their purchases.
3. Flexible Delivery
Customers want more control over where, when, and how their purchases are delivered. In fact, more than two-thirds (77%) of customers have abandoned purchases because they weren't satisfied with the delivery options.
Flexibility in delivery spells convenience for many customers. Some customers want to order online and pick up in the store or at a hub while traveling. Others want to choose the delivery company (USPS or UPS) and the delivery date to coincide with their schedules or commitments.
4. Transparent Delivery
For convenience's sake and to build trust with customers, more and more businesses are displaying delivery timelines and tracking information to customers. This might be in the form of automated messages showing where the package is in the fulfillment process so customers can continue to engage with the company while waiting for their order.
Using Visibility to Build Trust in Deliveries
According to research from DispatchTrack, consumers overwhelmingly want the ability to track their orders. They also want their shipments to show up when promised - not late or early. No study can reveal what every consumer wants or doesn't want, but the overriding idea is that customers want to feel they are giving their business to brands they can trust. This has a lot to do with visibility.
What Visibility Means in Delivery
When we talk about visibility in delivery, many companies picture being able to track the delivery truck as it makes its rounds during the last leg of the journey. This GPS tracking is a great feature, but it doesn't go far enough for most customers.
The type of visibility most consumers want is much more substantial. From the time an order gets submitted, customers would like to get a real-time and accurate view of where the product is in the fulfillment process.
And it goes even further than that. Customers will receive an ETA when they submit their order. With real-time tracking, they can sign up to get exception notifications if the order is ahead of schedule or falls behind for any reason.
Ways to Turn Visibility Into Trust
Creating complete visibility is still a work in progress for many supply chain partners. But some companies are making progress in making their fulfillment process more transparent. This builds greater confidence and trust from customers. Some of the ways your business can turn visibility into trust include:
1. Implement RFID Tags
To deliver real-time visibility, you need to leverage the right technology. You can start by implementing RFID tags, which are a step above bar codes. These simple tags can hold a ton of data about your products, and they can be read automatically using an RFID tag reader, which doesn't need a line of sight to work.
2. Use AI-Powered Solutions
Most supply chain partners now use a variety of cloud-based management and tracking tools. Adding an artificial intelligence-powered delivery software to the mix is a great way to improve the accuracy of ETAs. When you give this information to your business partners and customers, you can manage their expectations.
3. Offer Live Visibility to Customers
Customers want to be able to track their own orders so they have confidence the delivery will arrive when it was promised. Another benefit of providing this ability is that your team won't have to field calls from customers asking about the status of their orders.
4. Be Proactive About Exceptions
While customers can get alerts about delivery exceptions, your business can, too. Using AI tools, you have the ability to forecast when something might go wrong and take proactive steps to get things back on track.
5. Use Data for Ongoing Improvement
With the right technology and systems in place, deliveries should be much more predictable. As you improve visibility, you will also have access to insights you can use for ongoing improvement in your processes.
Many businesses struggle to realistically and accurately set their customers' expectations and then successfully deliver on their promises. By investing in supply chain visibility, consumers will have more trust in businesses because they get real-time "proof" that promises are being fulfilled. This is just one way businesses can attract and retain customers long-term and improve their overall results.