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Six Ways to Exceed Customer Expectations this Peak Season
Shopping online has changed dramatically — and likely permanently — as a result of COVID.
Since the onset of the pandemic, 83 percent of Aussie consumers now agree that buying online is easier than it was one year ago, while 76 percent say buying online offers a better experience now than it did 12 months ago.
But this increased online shopping behaviour has also impacted customers’ expectations of service, speed, and most importantly, delivery.
According to a new report by Power Retail and Australia Post, the December 2021 quarter is forecast to be the biggest quarter of online shopping on record.
So, with all eyes on this year’s peak season, what can you do now to exceed your customers’ expectations?
ShipStation shares six ways to impress your customers this holiday season and beyond.
Have a user-friendly check out page
Your checkout page is one area of your business that you simply can’t ignore.
This is where you determine your shipping options and add carriers. This is also where your customers make the final call on whether or not they’re going to buy your product.
Laying out different shipping options at checkout makes the process easier for both you and your customers. You win the loyalty of customers who are savvy about shipping, and customers get the benefit of a carrier and delivery speed that they feel comfortable with.
ShipStation gives you the tools to show live shipping rates at checkout, display flat-rate or free shipping options, and view delivery date estimates.
Communicate throughout the entire purchase journey
Nothing makes a customer happier than knowing exactly how long to expect a package to arrive, and the ability to track its progress along the way. This pre-dates the pandemic, however, COVID-19 seems to have heightened consumers’ expectation for visibility into their shipping and delivery.
According to ShipStation, 90 percent of Aussie consumers want the ability to see and select shipping rates and speed during the checkout process, while 86 percent want full visibility into expected shipping timelines before making the purchase.
With this in mind, retailers will want to optimise their checkout experience to include clear delivery windows and transparency on shipping rates moving forward. Additionally, if there are any unforeseen delays or disruptions, make sure you communicate these updates with customers.
In fact, 93 percent of consumers agree that when a retailer acknowledges or rectifies a poor delivery experience, they’re more likely to shop with that brand again in the future.
In addition, 96 percent agree that fast and honest updates regarding a shipping issue make them less likely to be upset about shipping delays or have a lasting negative perception of the brand.
Personalise the post-checkout experience
Shipping confirmation emails and branded tracking pages can help elevate your brand’s authority with customers during the holiday season. In fact, shipping confirmation emails have the highest open rate of any type of email customers receive from businesses.
ShipStation’s branding tracking feature keeps the shopping experience consistent, brand-specific, and personalised throughout the entire shipping journey, at no additional cost.
Instead of receiving generic shipping updates from the carrier, customers will receive tracking information that looks as though it is coming directly from you.
Provide a variety of shipping options
Customers have grown accustomed to convenience. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach or inundating your customers with too many shipping options, offer two or three shipping options such as free, flat rate, and express shipping.
According to ShipStation’s Ultimate SMB Holiday Prep Guide, the best way to offer free shipping without ruining margins is by offering free shipping over a certain spend, such as free shipping for orders over $75.
Alternatively, ShipStation’s Small Business Guide to Efficient Shipping recommends offering free shipping as a limited-time campaign. Carve out a time for free shipping and inform customers beforehand.
Streamline your returns process
Mastering returns can increase customer satisfaction and contribute to long-term customer loyalty.
And, with more than 50 percent of Aussie consumers likely to continue to do most of their shopping online long-term, it’s vital to get returns right. To do this, make sure your return terms are clear and user friendly.
Consumers increasingly want to avoid contacting customer service to initiate returns. In fact, 85 percent expect returns to be self-service and 81 percent of customers prefer for retailers to either offer pre-printed labels or to allow them to print return labels at home.
Allow customers to initiate returns in the same way that orders are placed. Make the process easier by offering automated returns through return portals on your website or including pay-on-use return labels with the outgoing package. Cultivating a streamlined process like this elevates your brand above the competition.
Create a memorable unboxing experience
Finally, your shipping process should address customers’ growing expectations around brand experience and sustainable packaging.
More than 60 percent of younger consumers prefer to shop for sustainable and green products and 82 percent of consumers as a whole said they would like their parcel packaging material to be recyclable. Through ShipStation’s partner integrations, businesses can send packing instructions, including custom packaging and product inserts, and warehouses will ensure a brand-specific unboxing experience.
The ShipStation app can also help you identify multiple orders from the same customer, which allows you to combine products into one package and reduce packaging waste.
You can sign up for a 30-day free trial to see what ShipStation can do for your business.
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