The technology industry is an amazing one to be in these days. What was once an exciting technological breakthrough yesterday could be the norm tomorrow. Take 2-day shipping for example. That was an amazing breakthrough for customers since they could receive their online orders in under 3 days. Now, companies like Amazon and Walmart are making it common-place. This isn't so easy to do for other companies. So with advanced technology becoming more and more relevant, retailers are becoming more pressured in the race to offer something jaw-dropping. The reality is harsh, but with Amazon spoiling it's loyal customer base, retailers need to play catch up.
Customers today don't like to be surprised at the amount they are paying for shipping at the very end of the transaction. This actually leads to most shopping cart abandonment cases. Instead, they want all shipping options (and the more the better) up front and as soon as they place an item in their cart. It's even better when you can offer a free shipping option- customers will do cartwheels for this! Free and one-day shipping are proven to drive an increase in online sales (some companies even use "free shipping" as a marketing cost).
But how do you do this? How do you satisfy this long list of customer wants? You optimize your shipping strategy, because though this list seems unobtainable, it IS possible. When thinking about smarter ways to ship, consider the following:
- Match carriers to your needs- Have different carrier options available and calculate the best rate in order to ensure your customer gets their order on time.
- Automate your fulfillment- There are special machines out there that can fit a cardboard box perfectly around your item(s) without void fill so you can avoid access DIM weight charges.
- Improve visibility- Have visibility throughout the entire shipping process: from inventory through shipment.
- Make returns EASY- Provide pre-paid return labels in the box to build trust in loyal customers.
But everything isn't always about quick shipping and delivery times (though that is extremely important). Now, it's almost imperative that you throw some omnichannel initiatives into the mix too. Because what do customers want? They want their items now, now, NOW! How do you satisfy them? Provide multiple channels in which your customers can shop in. People like being able to customize their own shopping experience because they often can get their items right away.
For instance, Amy the loyal Amazon customer, decides that she doesn't want to pay $100 for Prime services anymore. She doesn't like that Amazon does not have brick-and-mortar stores that she can shop in or return items to. So, Amy cancels her membership and starts shopping at Best Buy, Kohls, and Bed, Bath & Beyond online. She loves that each one of these stores conveniently offers ship from store, return to store and buy online, pick-up in store. Amy receives her orders quicker with ship from store, and on her own time with pick-up in store, and has the option of a very easy returns process with return to store.
Joe, the average shopper, loves that Sears offers in-store stock counts so he can see inventory, in-store mobile promotions so he's notified of the best deals when shopping, and directions to store since he's slightly directionally challenged.
Since omnichannel is still a huge buzz word this year, here are the top 10 omnichannel services provided by leading chain retailers. Think about utilizing them!
With regards to omnichannel, Internet Retailer states, "As Amazon's dominance grows and foot traffic declines in stores across the country, in many ways store-based retailers' very survival depends on how quickly and effectively they can adapt to ever-growing consumer demands." Thinking more about omnichannel? Take our quiz and discover what omnichannel initiatives you might be missing out on!
All in all, companies need to start assessing new ways to improve the efficiencies involved around delivering products to customers. It is of utmost importance to keep surprising and satisfying your customers, otherwise you'll get passed up by people like Amazon Amy and Average Joe. Stop losing customers, BECOME an INNOVATOR!