[Guest Blog] Order Fulfillment in 2019: Meet Customer Expectations and Increase Conversions
2018 was a big year for e-commerce, with new technologies, features and trends taking center stage. This year, customer expectations of the online shopping experience will only get higher.
One essential part of meeting customer expectations is top-notch delivery service. Here are three fulfillment strategies e-commerce companies can leverage in 2019 to do just that.
1. Same-day delivery
Customers expect fast and affordable shipping at the click of a button. Thanks to Amazon Prime, two-day shipping is the new normal.
But with 45% of shoppers abandoning carts because of unsatisfactory delivery options, “normal” is no longer enough. Today’s consumers expect the fastest delivery possible.
Enter same-day shipping and delivery.
With same-day shipping, a customer’s order ships out on the same day it’s purchased — but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to when the order will arrive. Same-day delivery is the real game changer, guaranteeing a customer’s order will be delivered on the same day it’s purchased.
Offering same-day delivery can help an e-commerce business differentiate itself in 2019 and beyond: 60% of online shoppers have chosen between competitors based on convenience of delivery options. When done right, offering a same-day option can both influence shoppers’ decision to buy and improve customer loyalty.
Same-day delivery isn’t limited to big-box retailers like Amazon and Target. For smaller players, successful same-day delivery requires an expanded geographic footprint. Many retailers choose to partner with a fulfillment provider that operates fulfillment centers in major urban locations. This helps make same-day delivery cheaper and more accessible.
2. An automated supply chain
It’s not just shipping that’s getting faster: your entire e-commerce logistics process needs to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible to meet rising customer expectations. One way to simplify your supply chain is by identifying opportunities for automation.
Automation can often take the most tedious tasks off your plate, freeing up resources to focus on other areas of strategic growth. This can help ensure you’re meeting customer expectations while using your time as efficiently as possible — especially when it comes to logistics.
Within e-commerce order fulfillment, a variety of opportunities for automation exist. Working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can automate nearly every aspect of the fulfillment process, including shipping, order management, inventory management and returns.
If you’re not already working with a 3PL — or you’re in the market for a new one — choose one whose technology integrates directly with your e-commerce platform or shopping cart. As soon as an online order is placed on any of your sales channels, it should automatically be pushed to your fulfillment provider’s team. Then it can be picked, packed and shipped in a timely manner — without you having to lift a finger.
3. Transparency throughout the process
Even with the fastest shipping and most streamlined process, mistakes happen.
From online review sites to viral social media posts, word of mouth has never spread faster than it does in 2019. If your customer has a negative experience, the impact can be instantaneous. The more information that becomes available about businesses online, the more important it is for you to communicate clearly with your customers — especially when it comes to the delivery experience.
The good news is that 85% of people are more likely to give a brand a second chance after a bad experience if there is a history of transparency. By giving your customers insight into every aspect of the order and fulfillment experience, you can help build trust and goodwill from the first interaction onward.
Here’s how to maintain transparency throughout every step of the process.
Before checkout — Make shipping costs and return policies easy to find on your website — before customers click through to checkout. Let shoppers know what shipping options and deals you have available. Do you offer free shipping above a certain order value? Expedited shipping for an upcharge? Make it clear well before checkout.
During checkout — Did you know that 23% of abandoned carts come from customers being surprised by a total order cost they were unable to calculate upfront? Make sure that your costs, fees and policies are consistent across the board.
After checkout — Once a customer has placed an order, keep them posted on its status every step of the way. If your 3PL integrates directly with your e-commerce platform, it’s easy to automatically push tracking information back to customers once an order ships. If a shipment is delayed, make sure to keep your customer in the loop and be honest (and apologetic) about the situation.
Transparent communication shouldn’t stop when an order arrives. If a customer chooses to return their purchase with a provided or prepaid return label, give your customers tracking information for their return shipment. You can even offer automatic text alerts once their return has been received, as well as an update once it’s been refunded.
2019 promises to be another record-breaking year for e-commerce — and order fulfillment trends and technologies will play a part. By leveraging the three strategies above, brands can set their fulfillment up for success this year and beyond. At the end of the day, partnering strategically across the e-commerce ecosystem can be key to ensuring a fast, automated and transparent order fulfillment experience both internally and externally.
Blog post by Rachel Burns, content marketing specialist at ShipBob