Managing ecommerce delivery in a cost-of-living crisis

Category: Operations
Managing ecommerce delivery in a cost-of-living crisis

How can your ecommerce delivery offer help build better relationships with cash-strapped customers? Asendia UK’s Clara Philpin gives advice

It’s tough out there. With high inflation and squeezed household finances, online shoppers are seeking the best prices. As marketplace sellers are aware, if you provide a poor service, or charge more for delivery and returns, you risk losing valued customers who can instantly switch to a better-value alternative.

In a cost-of-living crisis, finding the balance between profit and healthy conversion rates is crucial. Ecommerce delivery can also play a role in improving reputation during these challenging times.

Economic downturn is affecting shopper behaviour

Asendia’s recent survey How to sell direct in the age of the conflicted shopper delved into consumer sentiment around online shopping in 2023. 75% of British shoppers plan to cut back on spending in 2023. For 43% of the 8,000 global online shoppers surveyed, delivery costs were a key consideration, alongside overall value for money (54%), and quality of products (50%).

Meanwhile, another survey found that 32% of consumerssee delivery pricing as a barrier to online shopping, with 48% preferring free or cheap delivery to help with the cost of living. 

This can be engineered into overall price for domestic deliveries, but for merchants sending parcels overseas, and receiving returns from customers dotted around the world, free delivery is rarely possible.

At Asendia, we advise clients regularly about minimising international air freight and last-mile delivery costs, without compromising service or jeopardising customer satisfaction.

Provide the option of a cheaper alternative

Offering slower and cheaper international delivery options is a popular solution for merchants seeking to save costs and help customers save money. 

At Asendia, multiple delivery services can be integrated into our retail clients’ websites, allowing customers to choose a lower-cost international postal delivery service if the purchased item is low-value and not urgently needed. This can be offered alongside our Select and Elite services which are faster, and offer extra elements such as enhanced tracking and notifications and insurance cover.

Marketplace sellers and retailers tell us they have seen a marked uplift in cross-border shoppers opting for the slower service since the cost-of-living crisis kicked in. 

Depending on your business requirements, an agreed service matrix can be hardcoded in the back end to ensure that savings are being realised on smaller, low-value products whilst not risking the brand image when delivering satisfaction on the higher ticket items. Clients are using this flexibly, as means of keeping shipping costs as low as possible.

Show off your authenticity

Authenticity plays a significant role in shopper behaviour during the rising cost-of-living. Our survey mentioned earlier, found that shoppers want to engage and buy from brands who act authentically. Increasingly, shoppers are holding the retailers and brands they shop with to account, with 70% of UK shoppers willing to spend more and 56% saying they would only shop exclusively with authentic retail brands.  

The values defining authenticity for UK shoppers were: being straightforward in delivering promises (57%); transparency within supply chains (41%); standing up for sustainability (39%); clear brand values (39%); and acting upon brand values (32%).

A standout finding is that 43% said a brand’s authenticity would make them less sensitive to inflationary price increases, rising to 48% of Gen Z and 51% of Millennials.

Give overseas customers what they want

Many Asendia clients are working hard to be transparent with customers, both about what they are selling and the supply chain and delivery processes being used. Post-Covid consumers, coping with a cost-of-living crisis don’t take decisions lightly, and being open and honest with them pays off.

In our survey, shoppers were asked to consider, when having an international order fulfilled, what would influence their decision to make a purchase.

We found that 33% wanted to understand where their product is being shipped from to understand the cost and distance the product will need to travel to reach them. Slightly fewer (32%) wanted to see reliable, convenient returns methods, such as paperless, drop-off box, collect, postal office, and in-store options. And 32% wanted to see grouped deliveries, where there is less packing waste, and items are delivered in one go, rather than across multiple individual deliveries.

Brands that can tick these boxes will be in a strong, competitive position. Fulfilment and delivery partners should be on hand to advise and help their clients put these highly-desirable service elements into action.

Keep in touch, show you care  

Economic improvements may be on the horizon, but consumer caution is likely to dominate for the rest of the year.

To avoid cart abandonment, brands must ensure they have optimised their digital stores and ecommerce delivery services to provide a transparent, fairly-priced, and reassuring shopping experience. Keeping customers informed about their orders’ progress and budget-friendly offers can help maintain consumer-brand relationships.

Letting them know you’re also thinking of their budget with special offers can help. It might be worth running flash ‘free delivery’ marketing campaigns or offering free, or discounted delivery as a loyalty reward.

I’m an optimist. By impressing customers during these challenging times, brands can emerge successfully from this economic endurance test.


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