7 Tips to Level Up the E-Commerce Delivery Experience
Published on: June 3, 2022
Updated: September 11, 2023
In recent years, e-commerce giants have dominated the industry and redefined customers’ standards around the delivery experience. From multiple delivery options, to increasingly shorter delivery times such as same-day delivery, there’s a clear trend in consumers expecting more, sometimes even for less, like with free delivery.
The delivery experience is a critical stage of the customer journey. In fact, the last mile delivery experience directly impacts customer satisfaction: research shows 84% of shoppers are unlikely to repurchase after a poor delivery experience.
Our own data indicates that online shoppers see room for improvement when it comes to the delivery customer experience. With 86% of customers experiencing shipping or delivery delays, and 28% of consumers receiving inaccurate delivery notifications, there’s no doubt that there’s room for improvement. Providing a great delivery experience is a multifaceted process, but getting it right and making it truly customer-centric takes time and effort. So why is it so critical for smaller brands to keep up with—and exceed—the standards other bigger players have set?
Online orders, including the delivery and post-purchase experience, are an emotionally-charged time for customers. This means it’s crucial that brands take care of their customers during these stages of the customer journey. A poor delivery experience creates a negative association with your brand, even if you’ve used a third-party delivery partner. This directly affects your brand association, and could lead to your customer opting for a competitor the next time around.
A delivery gone wrong could also lead to others having a poor association with your brand: industry data shows 10% of consumers will leave a negative review on social media after an unfavorable delivery experience. With online reviews and word-of-mouth playing a significant role in the decision-making process of most customers, too many negative reviews could stop potential customers from converting. Given that customer experience is often the key brand differentiator for most consumers (usually higher than price and product), it’s absolutely critical to get the delivery experience just right.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what it takes to create good delivery experiences, and at how brands can implement them.
Key elements of a good delivery experience
To make sure the delivery process ends with a happy customer, several elements need to be incorporated. Consider the following.
It’s quick and easy
A good delivery customer experience should be straightforward and hassle-free. Delivery options should be clearly spelled out, with estimated delivery times that are as accurate as possible. For example, brands might offer free delivery within 5 days, or faster delivery within 2 days for an additional $2.
Once the order has been placed, it’s critical to make sure that packages arrive when you say they will: whether you’re using a third-party delivery team or your own delivery drivers, a substantial delay means you’re breaking your promise to your customer. While certain issues cannot be foreseen, such as supply chain issues or accidents on the road, it’s important to provide delivery that’s on time, as often as possible.
Providing a narrow window of the delivery time can make an extra good impression. For example, you can let customers know the day before the package arrives that the delivery driver will show up within a 2-hour time frame. While this isn’t always feasible for all businesses, it’s worth checking if it can work for your delivery team, for example in combination with real-time delivery tracking.
Of course, it’s also important to ensure the goods arrive undamaged and to the right address. While most damage and missed deliveries tend to happen with third-party delivery partners (at rates of up to 11%), it’s your business that will usually be held accountable, which could lead to returns or refunds, all of which eat into your bottom line.
It’s a great brand experience.
Your customers have several touchpoints throughout their journey with your brand, including delivery. If it’s an excellent journey, they’re much more likely to repurchase and spread the good news about your brand. In fact, research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands offering personalized experiences. By creating an intimate connection with your customer — all while keeping your brand front-and-center — you can foster deeper relationships, build customer loyalty, and increase purchases.
That said, while most customers would prefer to do business with organizations offering personalized experiences, many consumers don’t feel that brands are currently providing a strong personalized experience. This is good news for businesses willing to invest time into making the effort: since so few organizations are providing a unique brand experience around the delivery process, those that offer more personalization will increasingly stand out from the crowd and attract more repeat customers.
Customers are kept in the loop through frequent communication.
It’s absolutely important to avoid keeping your customers in the dark about their delivery. Gone are the days when consumers order a package and wait a few weeks for it to arrive. Now, a great customer experience around the delivery process involves updating them on the latest details of their package. Whether it’s via text, email, in-app, or through a dedicated tracking page, it’s absolutely crucial to keep customers in the know so they can take control of planning their day.
With real-time visibility, you can better manage your customers’ expectations, for example, if there’s a delay. Plus, you’ll help remove the burden from your customer support team — like we did for our customer Granit Part. If customers can proactively check online and see that their package will be delayed, or know exactly when it will arrive, you can improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously bringing down costs and workload in your customer support team.
How can retailers optimize their delivery experience?
Now that we’ve looked at a few elements that are important to provide a great delivery experience, let’s explore our top 7 tips on how e-commerce businesses and retailers can do that in practice.
Offer a branded and seamless delivery experience using OXM software like parcelLab
parcelLab’s Operations Experience Management platform provides brands with one portal that unifies all their data streams, transforming them into actionable, data-driven solutions. With parcelLab, you can supercharge your delivery management and provide a great customer journey using branded communications and touchpoints throughout.
Whether it’s a delivery confirmation or update sent via a branded email or your own Order Status page, we help businesses provide proactive communication, reducing customer support requests while fostering brand loyalty. Best of all, we then parse all the operational data coming in, so you can reduce bottlenecks and improve your overall performance.
Keep your systems tightly integrated
E-commerce businesses often work with multiple carriers and systems. From logistics companies and freight handlers such as DHL or FedEx, to customer support and feedback SaaS companies like Zendesk or Trustpilot, brands can get access to easy integration with parcelLab.
With full data harmonization into one single system, we help brands automate workflows by simply plugging in our platform — no technical expertise required! Since we have full integration for over 150 carriers, we’ll also take care of any data maintenance, while also providing carrier support for any extra capabilities you might need.
Offer contactless delivery
Although we may no longer be at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers still appreciate the option of limiting physical interactions and practicing social distancing when receiving packages. Not only is this great for your consumers, it can also help protect the health of your delivery drivers, who often come into contact with many people on a daily basis. When possible, offer an option for a no-contact delivery so customers can make the choice that’s best for them.
Provide frequent customer communication
As mentioned earlier, proactive communication with your customers about their delivery status helps give them time back so they can plan their day around the delivery. We’ve spoken at length on how to keep customers updated during the final mile, but here’s a quick summary of some methods you can use.
Brands can opt for SMS’s with links to more info, or a chatbot for a more self-service option. You can also reach out to customers via email, or provide map tracking for a more visual option. Whichever route you go, parcelLab’s OXM platform can assist in elevating your customers’ last mile experience.
Use route optimization with real-time tracking
With dynamic route planning, delivery drivers and dispatchers use routing software that determines the most efficient delivery route for all the stops, along with precise estimates of the arrival time. Unexpected delays and traffic will result in a potential route recalculation, which will be reflected in the customer notifications. If possible, use real-time updates for the most up-to-date tracking notifications.
Provide (electronic) proof of delivery
Make sure the delivery service leaves a proof of delivery, especially if the package is left in a safe place or delivered to a third party instead of being delivered directly to the recipient. That way, customers can easily see where the package has been dropped off, and drivers can provide secure proof the package was delivered.
Use a branded hub so shoppers can track their order and delivery status
Another method to keep customers in the loop about their delivery is to provide an order status page. Also called a Track and Trace page, organizations can leverage this opportunity as a branded hub to provide up-to-date tracking and notification systems so customers can check back frequently for updates. With a branded hub like parcelLab, your customers will have a seamless delivery experience, and brands can serve personalized recommendations and targeted updates based on customers’ search and purchase history. This can improve open and click-through rates, while also driving repurchases, all while bringing customers closer to your brand through an important touchpoint. (Want to learn more about the benefits of our branded tracking pages for your business? Read our blog on the topic.)
In a world where the number of e-commerce deliveries continues to grow steadily, consumer expectations are clearly rising alongside them. To provide an unforgettable, customer-centric delivery experience, businesses need to focus on getting the basics around the last mile right if they want to stand out in the highly competitive market.
With an Operations Experience Management platform like parcelLab, e-commerce brands can provide customers with increased insight and visibility into their purchases by creating an engaging customer journey with proactive communication and branded touchpoints. Combined with our powerful post-sales data analytics, you’ll be able to capitalize on all your opportunities for sustainable and scalable growth. Read our customer success stories here or book a demo today.