We've gathered six key ways to reduce the strain for retailers in the lead up to the Christmas season, and how businesses can prepare for another COVID Christmas.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and just as 2020 was a year of firsts, this holiday season is proving to be very similar. Just as we’ve seen before, the pandemic has forced many retailers to amplify their delivery models in the lead up to the holiday season.
A report from Hubbed has shown that 75.2 percent of Australian shoppers have had to deal with delayed deliveries, re-scheduling parcels, incorrect addresses or longer than advised waiting times. Power Retail’s latest Trajectory Report indicates that delivery costs are the leading reason for a consumer to avoid shopping online, which is unsurprising.
Read More: Only 29% Prefer to Shop In-Store: The Shift in Consumer Behaviour
“Delivery, returns, and theft concerns make online shoppers cautious, and this impacts online retailers. It’s not good for a brand’s reputation if deliveries don’t arrive as intended or go missing – as a consequence, brands suffer from poor customer experience,” explained David McLean, the CEO of Founder of Hubbed.
Across Australia, online orders are up 26.9 percent YoY for the 12 months ending July 2021. Furthermore, an overwhelming 81 percent of shoppers intend to spend the same or more in the next month. For retailers, now is the time to get cracking on deliveries and optimisation to avoid a seismic wave of delays in the coming months. “This increase in consumer behaviour has a flow-on effect when it comes to the last-mile delivery sector and potential delivery hiccups,” said McLean.
With lockdowns continuing in NSW and Victoria, online sales are only expected to rise, especially leading into the holiday season. Retailers heading towards the Christmas season are facing a flurry of orders, many of which are starting already. With Australia Post’s temporary pausing of online deliveries, it’s important for businesses across the country to act fast to avoid any further delays.
Read More: Australia Post’s Temporary Pause on Online Deliveries: Experts Weigh In
So what can retailers do to avoid the stress leading up to Christmas? According to McLean, there are five ways that retailers can prevent the stall:
Offer Multiple Delivery Options
Offering more than a single delivery option can help satisfy “increasing consumer demand for choice and control,” McLean said. “Customers are placing just as much emphasis on how and where they receive their purchase as the purchase itself. Same day, next day and express delivery options are just the start.”
A Better Returns Model
Half of Australian shoppers said they would be increasing their online spend in 2021, and with more online purchases comes an increase in returns. In the last six months, 26.7 percent of consumers have returned an item they have bought online, decreasing slightly below the average of 27.3 percent. Having a strong returns policy is now essential for retailers.
“A strong refund and returns policy can mean the difference between converting a visitor to a customer.,” McLean explained. “A sound returns policy gives confidence to the buyer, while a streamlined refund process, preferable with a convenient drop-off location, offers peace of mind and helps combat buyer hesitancy.”
It’s no secret that retailers must take action to create a sustainable and environmentally friendly business strategy. Since the lockdown measures began in Australia, there has been a steady increase in shoppers abandoning a retailer if they don’t align with their core values. What has this to do with logistics, you may ask. “Reducing your carbon footprint and showcasing actions taken towards sustainability resonates with customers,” said McLean. “Brands should be thinking about everything from their packaging materials to delivery services. Delivery to collection points typically reduces carbon emission by 43 percent versus delivery to home. Further missed deliveries create an extra burden on our roads and environment.
Australian shoppers are continuing to showcase their love for Australian made products, and supporting small businesses in times of need. A study from eBay suggests that there has been a ‘surge’ in searches for Aussie products, up 430 percent YoY. Furthermore, Roy Morgan research indicates that 93 percent of consumers in Australia prefer to buy something made locally – this is an increase from 87 percent the prior year.
“Australians have an innate desire to support Australian business and hyper-local services. Consider partners and suppliers who are using Aussie products in all parts of your product or service delivery. Online shoppers will notice and appreciate it,” said McLean.
Click & Collect
In the early stages of the pandemic, offering services like curbside pickup and Click & Collect were rolled out nationwide. This isn’t just a great option for the busiest of consumers, but it’s also beneficial to the planet, and can reduce parcel theft and disappearances, too.
“Enabling customers to choose a click and collect option at a location near them offers increased reliability, convenience, and lowers your carbon footprint through less traffic congestion and CO2 emissions. Secure parcel delivery also means less temptation for Porch Pirates!” explained McLean.
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