Even in the run-up to Christmas, online retailers need to shine with excellent fulfillment. Continuous process monitoring on the part of the retailer and detailed shipping communication to the customer ensure relaxation - for customers and hotline staff. How this succeeds even in the stressful pre-Christmas period, explains the shipping communication service provider parcelLab.
Munich, November 7, 2017 - Nearly two-thirds of German consumers want to order at least some of their Christmas gifts over the Internet this year, according to a study by Deloitte. For fulfillment and logistics staff, that means heavy lifting. Post board member Jürgen Gerdes expects a new record in the parcel business for the 2017 Christmas season. "Significantly more than eight million parcels" are expected to be delivered daily during this year's season. On peak days, the figure could even reach 8.8 million parcels a day. By comparison, on normal days the Group delivers around 4.3 million parcels in Germany.
To ensure that no customer sits under the Christmas tree empty-handed on Christmas Eve, it is particularly important for online retailers to monitor their own and external processes, especially at Christmas time. Store operators should keep a constant eye on whether all their goods are available or whether delivery bottlenecks are looming somewhere. The same applies to shipping service providers: trust is good, control is better. If monitoring shows that logistics partners are reaching their capacity limits and delivery times are increasing, the switch to an alternative delivery company should be prepared as a Plan B.
Customers want to be informed about the shipping process
Online retailers should also convince with first-class service when it comes to customer communication. After all, especially in the last week before Christmas, customers get nervous and follow the shipment status of their last-minute orders very closely. On December 21, for example, logistics provider DHL recorded 40 million hits on its online shipment tracking system. That is twice as many as on normal days, when the figure is 20 million. However, many customers can't always make heads or tails of the logistics jargon used in shipment tracking and subsequently call the retailer, perplexed. Intensive post-purchase communication is recommended to relieve the hotline at this point and give customers the secure feeling after their purchase that the package will arrive on time.
For example, after the order is received, customers should receive an e-mail confirming that the product they ordered is in stock and informing them when the package is expected to arrive. This order receipt confirmation, which usually records extremely high open rates, can also be used by retailers for cross-selling and upselling and recommending suitable supplementary products to customers, for example batteries for the remote-controlled car or a chic scarf for the new cashmere sweater. Retailers should also respond with an information e-mail at the first sign of a delivery delay and possibly suggest alternative products of equal value to their customers. Once the goods have left the shipping center, a message to the customer ensures a more relaxed wait for the package. And on the day of delivery, the delivery rate can be increased if the customer is told in as much detail as possible when the courier will ring his doorbell.
Relieved hotline - satisfied customers
Company experience shows: Those who accompany the customer so closely during shipping can reduce shipping inquiries on the hotline by about a quarter and at the same time avoid frustration among customers and their own employees. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition a little more, you can design your status e-mails not in standard official German, but with a touch of Christmas folklore. Then, for example, Christmas elves work in the logistics centers and the DHL messengers become delivery angels. Retailers can sweeten the wait for the package with a little storytelling. Links to the store staff's favorite cookie recipes, the Spotify playlist of the best Christmas songs, or even just a funny Christmas YouTube video put a smile on stressed-out customers' faces - and ensure that retailers are rated well and remembered again the next time they shop.
Seven tips for customer-oriented Christmas logistics
Try to manage the volume of parcels as best you can in the run-up to Christmas by offering free delivery or special Christmas discounts only up to a certain cut-off date (for example, a week before Christmas).
Communicate order deadlines clearly in the online store and in shipping emails. Remember that personalized products may have different deadlines.
Offer extended return periods for Christmas orders - and also communicate these prominently in the online store and in the shipping emails!
Let customers choose their own shipping service provider in the store. Customers themselves usually know best which service providers deliver most reliably in their region. And in the event of any delivery mishaps, it was the customer who selected the service provider.
Monitor internal and external processes and inform customers proactively in the event of shipping delays.
Accompany the customer during shipping with relevant information, easy-to-understand status messages and Christmas storytelling.
Communicate with the customer even in the returns process. Because informed customers are satisfied customers who do not call the hotline.
parcelLab supports online retailers in successful post-purchase communication. An intelligent tracking solution monitors parcel shipments in real time, identifies customer-relevant delivery events and links them to automated, individualized customer communication in the merchant branding. In this way, the retailer accompanies its customers even during shipping, strengthens customer loyalty and can exploit further upselling potential by directing online shoppers back to the store via specific messages.
The Munich-based start-up was founded in 2014 by Tobias Buxhoidt, Anton Eder and Julian Krenge. Today, over 20 employees serve more than 280 international retailers and support them in perfect shipping communication in over 32 countries and 17 languages worldwide.