SKU deliveryCustomer Experience - focusing on the last mile
A great customer experience is key to ongoing online success in retail.
All aspects of that experience needs to meet or exceed your customer’s expectations.
In this post we discuss the last mile, getting the purchase to the customer.
Where Is My Purchase?
One of the most common categories for complaints from consumers relates to the delivery of their purchase. Sometimes this relates to expectations that do not align with what is able to be performed. Sometimes the delivery is badly managed or fails. Sometimes the wrong person receives (or steals) the package.
In most countries there are consumer protection laws that put the onus on the Merchant to complete the transaction successfully. This includes the successful delivery of the order to the customer. Liability for refund or replacement is still with the Merchant when handing the package to a courier to complete the delivery.
This has given rise to a number of issues for Merchants in relation to the delivery of goods purchased online.
Lets explore how you can protect your brand reputation and reduces losses through pragmatic approaches within your control.
Where is my Parcel?
What are your client’s expectations in relation to delivery?
Is your fulfilment process able to meet your customer’s delivery expectations?
Understand Your Fulfilment Capabilities
As a merchant you, there are a number of logistical processes that make up the sale process. A customer does not need to know the ins and outs of these processes, but they do need to have realistic expectations on when they will receive their purchase.
When you are performing the fulfilment yourself, you need to have a good understanding of the elapsed time it takes for you to fulfil all orders. Including if there are time variations related to specific SKUs, quantity ordered and packaging requirements (i.e. hazardous goods labelling etc.)
Delivery is largely performed by a delivery service such as the postal service or a courier company. As a Merchant you need to be across the delivery capability of the chosen delivery service. Not only the elapsed time for the delivery to be completed, but the constraints that delivery service may have on getting the parcel to the customer.
Manage Customer Expectations Proactively
Communication is critical to setting customer expectations to align with your business capabilities.
delivery details at Check-out
Ensure there is information in the online shopping service on the amount of time it takes for delivery, and as well as any delivery constraints from your delivery service. Generally this needs to be included in the check-out process so the customer has expectations set prior to payment.
When there are delays in the fulfilment process that will impact the delivery expectations of the customer, you need to communicate this change proactively with the customer. This can include delays or shorter time so the customer is prepared.
The higher the value of the item, the more likely a customer will be wanting to know where their purchase is. Most Courier companies provide a tracking service to enable customers to see where their parcel is through the delivery process.
Long fulfilment periods
When lead times are greater than 2 weeks elapsed for delivery to consumers, it is best practise to proactively inform the customer of progress of their order.
This has three benefits, it reminds (or resets) the customer’s delivery expectations, reduces the likelihood of order cancellation and it shows the customer you are committed to providing a good service.
Delivery Service choice
Set Delivery Expectations & Choose Well
In Australia, the main postal service sub-contracts parcel delivery, with parcel delivery time is the priority. Sub-contractors for the postal service get paid the same amount to deliver to the local postal outlet or to the actual delivery address (not necessarily to the right person).
Unfortunately all too often in Australia, the customer pays via the Merchant for delivery to their address and it gets delivered somewhere else. The customer then needs to collect the parcel themselves, an activity they paid the Merchant to deliver.
The dissatisfaction is with your business as the Merchant yet the failure is with the delivery service. this is not a good customer experience and has a negative impact on your brand.
With this in mind, need to manage expectations with the customer as to the delivery service provider’s constraints (as mentioned above). As the Merchant, you also need to ensure your Delivery Service is going to meet the needs of your Brand.
At the time of writing, in Australia, Karob recognises the notable risk of parcels not being delivered by the local postal service to the customer’s residence. In this instance, for delivery of parcels to metropolitan or urban locations, Karob does not recommend the Australian postal service.
Failed Delivery Risk Management
Sometimes parcels go astray in transit. Unfortunately the liability for this failure is with the Merchant. So as a Merchant you need to manage the associated risks accordingly.
Delivery insurance is appropriate, this can be managed through inventory insurance in a holistic manner, or through delivery specific insurance, or requiring the goods be signed for (not straight forward in the Covid-19 era). It really depends on the SKU, what else is in the parcel and the cost to you as a Merchant to put things right should the parcel go astray.
Limiting delivery destination types is being used more often. For a while, most Parcel Delivery services will not deliver to Post Boxes. In recent times, with parcel theft on the rise, some service providers will not leave parcels unattended in apartment lobbies. This is managed in the check-out process, pre-qualifying delivery locations prior to dispatch.
The guidance in the Checkout process should encourage the customer to consider parcel security when it comes to receiving the item(s). Providing additional detail in relation to where a parcel may be left etc.
Proactively manage your customer’s delivery expectations.
As a Merchant you need to proactively manage risks, this includes your choices in relation to delivery. Select delivery services that can meet your custoemrs expectations and provide you with reliable service assurance.
Setting expectations with the customer is critical in providing a positive experience with the customer. Continuing to communicate in relation to the delivery is going a step further than most of your competition and will reduce returns & refunds.
karob reduces your risks for
Through Covid-19, many consumers have sampled online retail out of need. They are now more comfortable and prepared to shop online. As a retailer, not having an online sales channel means missing out on a massive market.
If you need to get your SKUs selling online, get in touch with us today.
Get In Touch
Gladesville, Sydney, Australia 2111
+61 492 855 630