Delivery is such an important deciding factor for consumers – whether it’s a choice based on price, time or just convenience. But while online shopping is quick and easy, the process of actually receiving the physical goods is often more difficult than it should be.
So how can an independent seller offer the best delivery experience to their customers when even established retailers are getting it badly wrong?
A survey by Econsultancy found that an enormous 50% of buyers have abandoned their purchase due to unsatisfactory delivery options. If any business or seller managed to save even a fraction of these failed purchases, it would have a huge impact on their bottom line.
We asked David Grimes, Managing Director of My Parcel Delivery how working with a courier can avoid abandoned purchases.
David tells us that My Parcel Delivery has woven customer service into the fabric of its operations. But naturally, being a broker for thousands of parcel deliveries and collections for nine different couriers means things do occasionally go wrong.
David says “We’ve had to go the extra mile to locate parcels, chase up missed collections and wrong bookings – because we know that despite the fact we’re not a courier, bad experiences reflect on our brand too. And it’s the same for ecommerce sellers; customers will frequently blame the seller when a parcel doesn’t arrive on time or there’s a missed delivery“.
Here are David’s top tips for customer service:
How can you improve customer service around your delivery options?
1. Communicating information
Delivery and fulfilment options are key buying criteria so make sure you shout about this right from the offset. eBay has fields to include delivery and return options to and make sure customers, both new and old, are clear on what to expect.
Give as much information up front as possible to help customers make the right choices. This could even mean little touches like writing days as well as dates – customers are more likely to respond to ‘next Friday 27th’ instead of ‘27/11/15’.
Outline which countries you can and can’t deliver to. And if your courier’s cost of international delivery, or lack of tracking options, is pricing you out of a wider customer base for your business, try weighing up international shipping prices using a delivery comparison site to see whether more affordable options are available.
Let customers know that you think about every part of the selling process, including how they’re going to get their goods once they’ve clicked the buy button.
2. Giving choices
Shoppers now expect their deliveries to fit around them – not the other way round. Staying at home to receive a delivery is so 2005! Many buyers might be more than happy with standard delivery, but it’s good to offer weekend, Saturday or morning deliveries, especially for larger packages that won’t fit through a letterbox. If you’re not sure about your customer preferences, just test your options – see whether they’re happier to be given a range of possible dates for delivery or a specific time.
Give your customers as many choices as you can to help them fit delivery around their schedule and location and of course eBay enables Click & Collect at Argos – it doesn’t add any costs to your business to offer this as a choice.
3. Use the data available
Sometimes even larger retailers don’t pass on the delivery and tracking data given by carriers to their customers. When there’s information out there that can help make customers’ lives easier, they need to have it and, wherever possible, don’t use estimated delivery dates but actual dates. Giving out delivery information and tracking numbers as standard can stop customers from emailing or phoning you to find out where their parcel is.
Many couriers can email shipping updates to your customers and some offer the option of text message updates too. By providing updates you’re not only giving the customer reassurance that their item is on it’s way, but can also cut down on the dreaded missed deliveries and potential re-delivery costs or returned uncollected items.
To sum up David says “Ultimately, as a seller, you’ve got a duty to be the middle man, helping to resolve disputes and being a point of contact where needed, using your power and knowledge to iron out the occasional problems that will arise.
“As we all know, buyers can be quick to give negative feedback on delivery if something has gone wrong, so by going to extra mile, you stand to keep up your feedback scores AND keep customers happy“.