eCommerce thundered through 2016 and is set to grow even more in 2017. Everyday, new eCommerce sites with unusual names like Sivvi.com and Nus seem to go from non-existent to in-vogue in a matter of days.
But behind many of these popular eCommerce sites there is a strong and fierce strategy that focuses on customer-centric order fulfilment. This post will look at the top eCommerce shipping trends for 2017 to ensure your business can grow with these new market opportunities.
1. Free shipping
The growth in eCommerce has not come without it’s consequences. Consumer behaviour has changed, and the customer ability to search online for the best price has left many business owners scratching their heads as to how they can afford to offer free shipping. We covered how you can reduce your freight spend here, and if you can reduce costs in other areas it will be worth your while to offer free shipping to your customers.
The last thing a business needs in this day and age is for a customer to go through the process of adding items into their cart, only to abandon it because of high shipping costs. Consider offering your customers free shipping if they spend over a certain amount. Many grocery retailers like Coles and Woolworths offer free delivery if the customer spends over $100 in one transaction.
If you’re a small business or retailer that sells unique items, you could try to off-set the cost of shipping within the price of your items. That way customers don’t get a shipping surprise when they go to the checkout and end up abandoning their cart in terror.
2. Free shipping for members
Many retailers are offering customers free shipping if they sign up to their membership program. Enticing customers to do this not only means you can offer them free shipping, but you can keep in touch with them as opposed to them checking out as a guest. You'll also be able to send them the latest promotions, information on new products or even a one-off free shipping opportunity.
Many of Australia’s largest retail companies, including Country Road, Kikki-K, Adairs and even Kathmandu, offer free shipping to those who join their membership program, so it's looking like it will be a popular trend in retail for 2017.
3. Same-day pickup
For those businesses with brick and mortar stores, another great option to offer your customers is the ability to pick up their items in store on the day of purchase. Essentially this means customers can order and pay online, and rather than waiting for a few days for their items, if they're local they can simply go and pick up their items after work.
This provides customers with a convenient shopping experience but you will require a physical location that’s close to a warehouse in order to fulfil this efficiently. For customers with a busy lifestyle, and little patience for waiting for their orders, allowing them to pickup their items after work will make their life easier and create loyalty.
4. Fast delivery options
Not all customers want free delivery. Some customers that are looking to receive an item quickly will shop around for the fastest shipping times available. Many innovative businesses including Australia’s homegrown The Iconic, offer customers shipping from within 3 hours of purchase in CBD areas.
Consider offering faster shipping options for those who need their items urgently. But make sure you fulfil the order in the time you promise as there is nothing worse to a customer if they need their item only to receive it late. Many large retailers are able to guarantee shipping within 3-2 days of purchase, but it's looking as though the trend in eCommerce will push businesses to build locally based distribution centres close to the city so they can offer fast fulfilment.
5. Free shipping promotions
In peak business times such as the holiday period, it’s a great idea to offer your customers free shipping for a limited time. In many cases, offering customers free shipping for a period of time will trigger them to purchase when they may have otherwise waited to buy the product in person.
There is so much flexibility with this option. You could even try to entice your customer to order another item and you’ll offer them free shipping. Or you could offer free shipping on certain items. This option really depends on your business and what it can offer customers, and that brings us to our final point.
6. Giving the customer choice
One of the biggest changes eCommerce has brought about is the shift in power for the seller to the buyer. Customers today are savvy, and they know where to go and how to get the best shipping prices.
Offer them a range of shipping options, from free to fast, so that they can choose what options they want, when they need it. It’s great to offer free shipping, but thisonly tends to be standard shipping rates. If a customer needs their item urgently they’ll be willing to pay more. If you don’t have a customer loyalty program or a warehouse close to a physical location, at least try to offer both free shipping and express shipping options.
If you can’t offer free shipping, try offering a flat rate on all items to avoid customers abandoning their cart because their not willing to pay the price for shipping their items. Just remember, business is changing to fit the needs of the customer, and the faster you can adapt to this new paradigm, the more satisfied customers will be.
We hope you enjoyed this post. Have you got any other tips for delivering products in an eCommerce driven world? Let us know in the comments below.