4 E-Commerce Shipping Trends We Expect in 2021

4 February, 2021

Brands Helen de Souza By ShipStation

By now, we’re all aware that COVID-19 has had an incredible impact on our lives — from when we go out and where we work, to how we shop. It’s safe to say that this pandemic will have lasting effects, some of which are yet to be determined. However, undeniably, one thing we’ve learned is that the future of retail is online. 

The increase in e-commerce revenue in Australia nearly doubled year on year. In 2020, we saw a 22% increase in online sales, up from 12% in 2019. This translates into a projected AU$37.5 billion of the annual global e-commerce revenue in 2021. In order to create their stake in the market, retailers are looking to trends on consumer expectations in order to drive growth for their business. 

From expanding and optimising post-purchase experiences to embracing a multichannel approach, here are the top four e-commerce trends we expect to see in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Simplified, Self-Service Returns 

Mastering your returns process can increase customer satisfaction and contribute to customer loyalty. In 2020, we experienced a global shift in how businesses handle returns, as many were forced to shift to online-only solutions. We can expect last year’s trends to affect consumer expectations well into 2021. According to a recent survey, 63% prefer contactless returns such as parcel drop-off or in-store pickup. 

The retailers who make returns easier will be the one that gets the sale and retains the customer. The same survey revealed that 90% expect returns to be a self-service process. They want to avoid support chat queues, and they overwhelmingly expect this process to be free. 

Other ways we expect to see customer returns evolve in 2021:

  • Scan-Based Returns. Include a return label with your shipments that you won’t be charged for until the label is scanned by the carrier.
  • Print At Home Labels. Allow your customers to conveniently print their labels at home and just drop it off at the post office. 
  1. Continued Shipping Delays 

Some are calling it Shipageddon, while others blame the surge in e-commerce volume on the temporary combination of the holidays and COVID-19. But, as carriers rush to adapt, experts and some consumers agree that shipping delays can be expected to continue well into 2021. 

83% of respondents in a recent ShipStation survey expect shipping delays due to COVID-19. And when asked how long they were willing to wait for a delivery, the average response was 8 days — 5 days longer than previously reported in 2019. This shift in consumer expectations is a huge win for retailers, revealing that customers are willing to wait longer for their packages.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’re completely off the hook. With this, customers also expect clear communication around these delays, along with increased delivery options. 

  1. Increase in Delivery Options

Click & Collect, Local Pickup, Free Shipping — these are delivery options that more and more consumers are used to seeing now, and your ability to offer them can directly impact your ability to win over their business long-term. 

40% of consumers are more likely to pay for faster delivery service now than they were before the pandemic started. This is up from 31% last year. So, while we know that consumers have become more forgiving with delivery delays and extended delivery windows, they are still looking to get the cheapest and fastest options. And, sometimes, fastest and cheapest doesn’t mean a delivery to their door.

This echoes what AusPost found in their 2019 Industry Report showing that Parcel Locker usage has grown by 63.8% year on year.

Given that 64% of consumers also say a free delivery option is required for them to make repeat purchases, adding free click & collect or local pickup to your checkout is a great way to meet their demands while maintaining your margins.

  1. Embracing Multichannel E-commerce 

No longer is the market dominated by eBay. With the growth in technology and e-commerce penetration, and improvements in the access to the global supply chain over the last decade, retailers are finally able to confidently embrace a multichannel approach. 

The ability to connect to Australia’s major marketplaces through ChannelAdvisor — including Amazon, Kogan, MyDeal, eBay, Catch, and Bunnings MarketLink — allows brands to connect with millions more customers and expand to global markets from the US to Asia.

However, a multichannel expansion doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t — mean all selling channels. You will want to carefully evaluate your business to determine which marketplaces make the most sense for your business. 

For example, retailers selling high-quality home and lifestyle products may find it easier to get their foot in the door on Bunning’s MarketLink. Alternatively, Kogan.com spans a wider range of products and consumer interests, with 10 million products from thousands of brands and distributors. 

Both Australian marketplaces provide increased reach for your product and brand, but choosing the best marketplaces for your specific audience can prevent you from eroding into your bottom line or interrupting productivity.  

Having a platform or workflow that can easily facilitate the flow of orders across one or multiple marketplaces simultaneously is key. Linking a multichannel and multi-carrier order and delivery management platform, like ShipStation, through your ChannelAdvisor account allows you to import, process and fulfil orders from every marketplace in one place. 

For more information visit shipstation.com.au

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