So you’ve got as far as persuading customers to actually buy from your site. Unless you’re selling certain digital products which can be downloaded online, you now have the important task of getting the sold product into the hands of the consumer.
The speed and service you offer in the delivery of products can make or break your business. If a customer isn’t happy with how long it took to have the item they bought reach their hands, or it didn’t arrive in good condition, it’s very unlikely they’ll order from you again.
You have to perfect your delivery strategy and work out a system that is both cost effective for your business, and of a satisfactory standard for your customers.
There are several options to look at when planning your strategy for delivery. The first is to deliver items yourself, or hire a someone to do it. This is probably only a cost effective option if you sell locally, or sell a limited amount of big ticket items.
The most viable options are probably going to be using a postal service such as Royal Mail, or courier/ distribution services. If you choose to outsource your delivery you must ensure you choose a partner that can meet the standards your customers expect, and fits in well with the way you operate your own business. With the e-commerce industry increasing at such a dramatic rate, there are many different delivery outsourcing companies to choose from, so make sure you shop around for the right match for your company.
Keeping your customers informed about when to expect their purchases is one way of elevating the level of customer service you offer. Nearly all couriers offer online tracking of parcels. This works by allocating an ID number to the order which can then be used by the consumer to track the location of their order online.
The use of order tracking will probably only be really valued by consumers if the item they have ordered is urgent or expensive. For most small or low priced purchasers an email from you telling them their item has been dispatched, and a delivery estimate, will suffice.
They type of packaging you use will impact on the amount it costs to send your items, but you have to find a balance between size, cost and how effective it is at making sure the goods arrive in good condition.
An enormous box with masses of bubble wrap will almost certainly protect the goods you’re selling. However, it can be extremely frustrating for a consumer to have to make a trip to the post office to collect an item that could have quite easily fit through their letter box had it been in a smaller package.
Likewise, many shoppers are very concerned about the environmental affects of unnecessarily bulky packaging. Introducing a green element to your delivery process may be just the hook you need to get a customer to return to your online store.
When a shopper buys from a physical store, it is relatively easy to return a product if there’s a problem with it. Not so true for the online shopper. However, by offering a clear and consumer-friendly returns policy your virtual browsers are more likely to turn into virtual shoppers. The costs you may incur as result of your returns policy are likely to be more than offset by the number of confident visitors to your site going through with a transaction.