Revolution in shipping: the new customer experience

Revolution in shipping: the new customer experience
Published on: Dec 1, 2016
Updated: Aug 18, 2022

People buy experiences, not just things. This insight creates a changed picture of the retail sector and reveals new opportunities and possibilities. For example, a study by San Francisco State University found a new type of consumer behavior: People see their money as "better spent" when they spend it on a joyful experience rather than material goods. So consumers prefer to spend their money on some kind of experience.

We are moving from a retail business to an experience business.

Rose Hamilton, Chief Digital Officer of Vitamin Shoppe.

Of course, people need to buy less experiential things like toothpaste and toilet paper. But even when consumers buy seemingly trivial goods, they often choose the product or store based on criteria similar to those used for a "real" experiential purchase. Consumers no longer consider their spending rationally but value a customer-experience-based, emotional exchange. Retailers that recognize this new reality and respond innovatively to make the purchase a customer experience are more than one step ahead of their competition.

So what do consumers expect?

Financial and retail expert Walter Loeb recently wrote an essay detailing this phenomenon. Essentially, Loeb explained that retailers cannot avoid change. Rather, they must embrace "forward-thinking" technology like Macy's Magic Mirror and bring the term 'omnichannel' to life. So no effort should be spared to ensure customers keep coming back for more.

But how exactly can retailers create more customer experiences? An IBM study published in 2016 on customer expectations sheds light on this:

  • The Art of Omnichannel Marketing

    Furthermore, the study showed the importance of mastering the omnichannel environment. This is now increasingly influenced by experiences outside of traditional retail. IBM calls it the "Netflix effect": consumers want the freedom and ease of shopping in one channel and seamlessly transitioning to another. So when they walk into a store, employees there should be able to continue the online customer journey as a matter of course. The data shows that, by and large, this desire is growing and is particularly strong among younger age groups.

  • Shipping time as a purchase criterion

Thanks to Amazon's standards, 72% of consumers now expect free delivery within 2 days for online purchases. According to IBM, the impact that fast shipping has on a consumer's purchase decision is "significant." What's most startling? There's a big disconnect between what matters most to consumers and how retailers are implementing their strategies. For example, 88% of consumers in IBM's study said "providing detailed order status across every channel" was very important, but only about 48% of retailers provide that.

  • Shipping as part of the buying experience

Clearly, there is still work to be done to meet these changing consumer expectations - which research firm Euromonitor has called "new consumerism". Retailers shouldn't see this as bad news, however. Rather, it's a good opportunity to focus on creating a unique shopping experience so that you can downright delight consumers and turn them into satisfied repeat buyers. Fast & free processing are key factors in this. Clear communication and package status details are important differentiators from competing stores and play a key role in building trust in the customer relationship. It is therefore essential to seize this opportunity now in order to remain competitive; the market development and also the customer base are waiting for no one - and consumers have made their demands clear.

To read more: 4 Steps to the Post-Purchase Experience.

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Create new reasons for people to love your brand. Build standout post-sales experiences tailored to your customers. Deliver personalized touch points that grab attention and spark loyalty.

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