You may be surprised at just how many companies fail to prioritise shipping within their customer service strategy. For far too many it’s a tag on at the end as they fail to connect customer satisfaction with painlessly receiving their order.
Remember, your customers’ experience of your company doesn’t end when they checkout and cough up. It ends when their order is in their hands. So here’s how to get your shipping right and to keep your customers happy.
Free doesn’t mean rubbish
Just because you’ve provided free shipping this isn’t an excuse for it to be a poor service. The majority of your customers are likely to select the free option by default, so making it a slow, frustrating option is only going to lose you custom.
You may be tempted to make the paid-for shipping options more appealing to try to recoup some of your shipping costs. This could work, or you could end up losing high value customers who don’t want to pay a tenner to get their items or wait for weeks for a free delivery.
Don’t skimp on your delivery offering as you may find that you’re losing customers at the checkout or getting complaints. Make your free option viable, such as no longer than five working days, as a long wait really isn’t good enough. Free shipping can be a real deal breaker for customers, so don’t underestimate its impact.
Check your stats
Use your site analytics to see which shipping options your customers are going for. Is anyone actually paying £15 to choose a delivery date? How many customers are actually willing to pay more for next day delivery? Is everyone opting for Saturday delivery as otherwise they’re out?
If you find that your paid-for options are effectively redundant due to their low usage, then make more of your free shipping. You’re not going to be able to directly recoup your shipping costs, so you might as well focus on getting new and repeat custom through a great free delivery service. See if you can get it down to three rather than five working days. Or offer weekend delivery within your free service. Then check your stats again to see what sort of impact this approach is having on your sales. The news should be good.
Be upfront and accurate
Be upfront about your delivery options in your online store and throughout your checkout. Don’t make it a surprise for the customer once they get to the end of the checkout process. Not only may they drop out, but they’ll feel frustrated and negative towards your company for wasting their time.
As soon as technically possible, try to provide an estimated delivery date. This can help close a sale as it can show a customer that you can deliver sooner than they thought. For example, if your shipping takes up to 10 working days and that’s the only information your customer gets, they may feel that it’s too slow and dropout. But if you can provide accurate estimated shipping information that shows while some deliveries can take up to 10 days theirs could be delivered as soon as five, you may just get the sale.
Don’t hide cheaper delivery options in favour of more expensive ones. It can be good to give your customers a variety of shipping options as they might need certain types of items sooner than others. Hiding your cheaper delivery options will just look like you’ve a poor choice and may be offputting for repeat customers looking for ongoing delivery choice.
Make it exclusive
Does your company have a lot of repeat customers, such as those who come back again and again to buy clothes or tools? If so, you could offer next day or nominated day delivery as part of a membership package. Your customers could pay a small monthly or yearly fee to have unlimited access to a fast shipping service. You could even link this to free returns too so that they feel they’re getting even more of a service. What’s more, this should encourage repeat custom as customers are likely to come back to a site where they can get cheap next day or nominated day delivery.
Choose your delivery company very carefully as customers will quickly become frustrated with couriers who fail to deliver. Likewise, they won’t be too impressed with companies that offer delivery slots of 8am – 9pm as who wants to wait in all day and most of the evening?
Bad experiences like receiving a ‘sorry you were out’ note when the customer had been waiting in will leave a lasting impression. They may forgive a poor service once, but two or three failed delivery attempts down the line and you may have just lost that customer. So do your research and only go for a delivery company that not only offers you great rates, but also has a great record of reliable shipping.
Above all, don’t underestimate the importance of shipping when it comes to customer satisfaction. Remember, the more specific you can be about the delivery slot the better as no customer gladly gives up whole days to the delivery man. Boast about your free shipping option and really make it a good one. Don’t punish your customer for choosing free shipping with long delays, or worse, delivery slots that last for days. It’s no good saying ‘your order will arrive between Monday 1st and Thursday 4th’ unless your target audience entirely consists of housewives.
Written by Matt Warren
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