Shipping trends for e-retailers are a constantly evolving beast, and since we last looked into the latest shipping trends nearly a year ago, it’s easy to see a few common themes in customer expectations arise.
It goes without saying that customers expect free shipping options, but they also still expect their goods to arrive within a certain time-frame and with as little hassle as possible. In this post, we cover some the latest shipping trends that your customers might expect in 2018.
It’s never been more important than ever to make sure that your customers see your shipping as reliable and trustworthy. Customers won’t accept late or misplaced items, and it's been known for a few years now that free shipping and timing are key factors to customer satisfaction. This is tricky territory though, because as a business your reputation is being placed in the hands of those you partner with. Make sure your partners are as reliable as what your customers are expecting.
Being reliable means you deliver the items when your customers expect it, and even if the shipping you offer is free, customers won’t want to be held hostage to unreliable freight forwarders. Associate your business with highly trustworthy companies.
Customers are becoming more and more accustomed to clear communication about the timing of their packages deliveries. If retailers notify their customers of their purchases delivery as early as possible, it’s been shown that customers will be more patient to wait for their items to arrive.
Something as simple as an email with projected delivery dates, or an SMS notification on the day your customers goods will arrive will create positive experiences that your customers will remember. The key thing to remember in 2018 is transparency. If the package is going to be late, let them know. If you're experiencing a backlog of orders, let them know. Being straight up makes your customers feel more at ease, and if they understand what is happening with their purchases they are more likely to return business to your company.
If you operate under the philosophy that the customers needs and wants are the life-blood of your business, then you should be in good stead in 2018. Customers want to be able to choose what shipping options are best suited to them, and that doesn’t always mean fast and free shipping. If you have physical distribution centres or physical stores sporadically located in central business areas, consider offering options like fast or cheap delivery, but also give the option for the customer to pick up their items after they've paid for them online.
If you’re located in a densely populated area, offering pick-up to your customers not only makes things more flexible for them, but it also will save you money on shipping costs. So far, the Australian grocer Woolworth’s offers this service in Sydney’s CDB, and it’s a great option for customers who want to do some quick shopping after work and pick the items up without any hassle.
Being flexible means you’re putting yourself in your customers shoes. What do they want and how can you offer it to them?
Although it’s an additional cost some businesses may struggle to meet, the trend in free returns is only increasing as large retailers like Zappos continue to delight their customers with it. Before looking into it, free shipping and free returns might sound like a cash flow nightmare for a business to introduce. However, the happier your customers are, and the more confidence they have in your business means they won’t think twice about buying from you because there is less risk associated with their purchase.