We recently took a look at retail shipping in the US with our inaugural US Operations Experience Study. And it turns out – there are some big opportunities for retailers to innovate.
1. Provide more delivery choices
Online retailers in the US offer very little choice in how an item can be delivered. For instance, only 4% of e-commerce sites even display the carrier they use, much less give customers a chance to choose their preferred carrier. Choice of carrier is a standard practice for European retailers and it’s likely US consumers would enjoy the option just as much.
However, US retailers did explore some new forms of delivery in 2020. 62% now offer curbside pickup in addition to their traditional delivery methods. 18% offer next day delivery, as well.
2. Communication around the post-purchase experience is minimal.
Retailers miss a lot of opportunities to communicate with their customers during the post-purchase experience. 56% of retailers send only three to four emails before delivery, even though there are generally at least five touch points. A shocking 25% send at most two emails.
While most, if not all brands send order and shipping confirmation emails, many fail to send shipping updates, delivery confirmations, or any communications around returns. As a result, customers remain in the dark during shipping and retailers miss out on crucial customer engagement opportunities.
3. Package tracking is lacking
Even when retailers do send communications, they often pass the engagement over to a third-party site, rather than capitalizing on it themselves with an on-site, branded tracking page. Only 27% of retailers currently host a tracking page on their website, which means a full 73% are outsourcing tracking information to another site such as the carrier’s. Here, retailers again fumble an important chance to drive loyalty.
4. Free delivery is essentially a myth
We found that free delivery rarely exists. Only four retailers in our study offered delivery that is truly free for customers. 52% of retailers require a minimum order value, of which the average threshold is $35. A surprising 30% of retailers just don’t offer a free option. These stores charge an average of $4.25 for shipping, despite the pile of data showing even low-cost paid shipping results in lost sales.
5. Return processes are extremely difficult for customers.
Overall, online returns provide customers with many friction points even though the data shows an easy returns process drives repeat purchases. We learned that 43% of retailers charge for returns. Shockingly, more than half of that 43% charge over $10 to process a return.
We also found that 56% of retailers take more than six days to fully process and refund a customer’s return. 64% of the retailers don’t even notify customers when the return has been received or when they can expect a refund, leaving customers completely in the dark at a point of already high friction.
Deliver outstanding Operations Experience
A positive Operations Experience drives customer loyalty and additional sales. This is where US retailers need to put their focus in 2021. Read our inaugural study to learn more about the opportunities available to US retailers.