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Customer Experience

Shipping and delivery fundamentals: Managing shipping times and supply chain

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Not so long ago, online shoppers were happy to wait 10 days to have a package delivered. But the level of service expected from businesses when it comes to delivery speed and communication has increased drastically. Meanwhile, global supply chain disruptions have caused huge overseas shipping delays. In our four-part series, we look at the ways you can meet the delivery needs of your customers in every circumstance. In part 2, we’ll explore how you can manage shipping times and supply chain process, so your business can compete with the standards set by big brands.

Woman packing shoes to ship

Once you’ve done your research and picked the best shipping cost method for your business, it's time to consider the next step. Shipping times and how you communicate delivery updates also play a big part in whether a customer chooses to spend with you again. The Telstra Business Intelligence report on Customer Experience found that small businesses consistently underestimate the importance of both shipping times and communication. 80% of consumers surveyed think delivery times are essential, compared to 55% of businesses. Similarly, 78% of customers value status updates on their orders, while only 42% of businesses think these are worthwhile.

COVID-19 restrictions have created a global supply chain crisis. The boom in product demand and shortage of workers, space and equipment is placing immense strain on businesses – whether they source products directly from overseas, or rely on materials outside Australia to create their own products. It’s led to customers reporting lengthy delivery times and, in some cases, their parcel never arrives. With this in mind, it’s worth reviewing your delivery processes, so you can be best equipped to manage expectations in these uncertain times.

Here, we’ll run through some ways you can streamline your shipping systems and give your customers the delivery experience they’re looking for.

Find the best delivery solution

A good delivery solution can simplify your shipping process and help you navigate any disruptions. It can consolidate your tracking information, set you up with automated shipping and returns, and provide your customers with real-time status updates. 

But with countless options available, how do you know what provider is best for your business and your customers? A good place for small businesses to start is with Shippit, a shipping platform that streamlines your delivery process. Shippit analyses local delivery services to match your customers with the best courier for their needs. It also allows you to manage multiple carriers and automate tracking updates, so all your shipment information is in the one place – all stored in the cloud, of course. 

Give customers options to receive goods at the speed they want

Shipping speeds can play a big part in your customer satisfaction. According to the Customer Experience report, 80% of consumers surveyed say that shipping time is important to them. Ben Franzi, Australia Post’s General Manager of Parcel and Express Services, puts it well: “Customers are looking for convenience for both delivery and returns.” 

It might seem difficult for your online business to compete with the swift delivery times of big brands. But there are a few cost-effective ways you can keep your customers satisfied.

Express shipping

Express shipping can be expensive. It’s also an excellent option for those customers who want to receive their parcel in a hurry. One way to offset the cost of this service is to charge a little extra for express. This way, your customers can get their parcel sooner rather than later and you’re not out of pocket for the extra shipping costs.

Click and collect

”Click and collect” lets customers pick-up their order from a shopfront, rather than waiting for a delivery to their home.  Your customer can order online 24/7 and pick up at a time that’s convenient for them. Since there’s no delivery fee attached, it can reduce costs for everyone involved. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with your customers – something you can’t do with orders that are placed online and delivered by a third-party. Considering the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, this is a great option for those who would usually visit in-store, but might not be keen on lingering.

Authority to leave

“Authority to leave” means your customers won’t be tied to parcel delivery times. If they won’t be home at the time of delivery, the provider will leave it in a safe place at their address. This way, there’s no waiting around and no need to make a trip to the post office for their parcel pick-up.

Communicate with your customers

Keeping customers up-to-date on the delivery status of their items is essential to making their experience with your eCommerce business a positive one. Research has found that giving your customers status updates with a realistic idea of their product’s location and its expected arrival is important. In fact, according to the Customer Experience report, 78% of consumers find it valuable. Yet the report uncovered a significant gap in how important status updates are for consumers and how important small businesses think they are, with only 42% of small businesses thinking it’s valuable. 

It’s worth considering the ways you can keep your customers in the loop. One option is to create automated status updates on all your deliveries. This function is often built into delivery provider platforms. It’s a great way to let your customers know when to expect their order without relying on your time.

If you run into problems, it’s important to be proactive with your customers. If global issues out of your control disrupt your delivery times, get ahead of the problem and notify your customers before you’ve got disgruntled customers with missing parcels. You can do this by acknowledging the delay on your website and social media feeds. If an order arrives late, and it’s in your control, get in contact with your customer as soon as possible and consider offering them a consolation, like a refund on the delivery fee. In any case, proactively communicating goes a long way. It will reduce complaints and save you time dealing with them, while maintaining your positive online reviews.

In a time of uncertainty, providing a diverse range of shipping speeds and accurate status updates is a great way to build trust with your customers. The sooner you find a delivery solution that works for your business, the easier it is to navigate any supply chain process disruptions that arise.

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