A reliable, timely and consistent eCommerce delivery service is a key for your customers. No matter how much money you throw at your marketing, no matter what you do to attract and maintain consumers, satisfaction will drop, and sales will follow unless you deliver as promised. When it comes down to it, your customers have choices. With so much emphasis placed on shipping, the effectiveness of your 3PL logistics will be the key to keeping the orders flowing and maintaining customer satisfaction.
According To The Future Of Commerce Report From Shopify, customers are very clear on what they expect from their eCommerce delivery options and service.
Free eCommerce delivery and returns
Free delivery and returns are considerable motivations for the consumer. But the repercussion is that it also puts a lot of pressure on your cost of sale. We can point the finger towards Amazon as to why this has become an expectation for consumers. Whatever the reason, though, with 68% of consumers stating free returns as a deciding factor in where to place their order, it is a fact of life.
Where 3PL can help
At the end of the day, anything you need to provide free needs to be as cost-effective as possible. The clue is that the largest retails can easily offer free shipping. It’s down to economy of scale. If you ship every order in house, it requires processing, the person-hours to pick, pack and post, the cost of shipping, etc. That is a costly exercise and a drain on resources. When you use a 3PL partner, the order is placed, and our team take care of everything. We have relationships with the carriers, specialist teams, the technology to smooth process and the speed and efficiency that comes with years of experience. Additionally, we can scale resources according to the ebbs and flow of your orders, so you’re never paying for staff to stand around waiting for an order. So while many feel that outsourcing is going to be more expensive, often it is the more cost-effective option.
Transparency of shipping cost and delivery times
It isn’t unexpected that consumers want transparency, but the extent to which they expect it is staggering. Clarity of the shipping cost was rated as the most valuable information by 74% of customers. When three out of four customers are listing something as a motivator, it needs to be a serious consideration for the vendor. Clarity on eCommerce delivery times was similarly very high on buyers’ agenda, with 68% of people saying it was important. This is so important to buyers that they will abandon a cart if the delivery details are not as expected.
Where 3PL can help
The information you need for transparency about shipping is all agreed in our service levels, and that means you can pass this on with confidence to your customers. Additionally, your dedicated account manager will always share details of seasonal cut-off dates, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Communication about customer delivery
Sometimes, thankfully rarely, though, circumstances change, and a delivery status needs to be updated. Most consumers (actually 2 in 3) understand that things can change, and all they want is to be informed of that change. It comes down to a simple maxim ‘deliver when you say you will deliver but communicate if you can’t’.
Where 3PL can help
Occasionally things change, and when they do, both you and your customer should be kept in the loop. Customers are asking for clarity, not miracles. If shipping times need to change or there is a delay, a good 3PL partner will have the process in place to make sure you maintain clarity for your customer. At the risk of blowing our own trumpet, we have invested in this area so much that is one of the main reasons we find online retailers switch to Synergy from a current 3PL.
Choice of delivery options
While consumers want their eCommerce delivery to be fast, they do not particularly demand same-day delivery. Click-and-collect is becoming more prevalent as the pandemic eases, but next day or 2 – 3 days was acceptable to consumers for the most part. 53% of consumers stated flexible shipping options appealed to them as a significant influence. In short, they want choice over speed, and often courier. Offering multiple shipping options in-house is a burden at best. But the reality is that often it is an impossible target that is fraught with danger from missed shipments and delivery deadline issues. Not to mention the loss of economies of scale when negotiating discounted courier rates.
Where 3PL can help
The right eCommerce 3PL partner is far more flexible than many people realise. Sometimes people labour under the mistaken belief that the solutions and service level agreements (SLAs) on offer are somehow restricting when it comes to options for shipping, and this couldn’t be further from the truth.
We have invested heavily in the right team and technology to offer various shipping options, from priority shipping to economy. An even then, most of our orders are dispatched the same day if received before our cut-off times. And once again, due to our combined buying power and strategically located warehouses close to major courier distribution centres, we have access to later courier collection times than brands can access, which means we can offer you later cut-off times. So what can be a complex logistic nightmare for in-house teams is something we offer as standard.
Accuracy of stock levels and movements
We have saved the most interesting for last. The devil, as they say, is in the detail and in this case, there was a response that I think many will find surprising around stock levels. The fact that consumers valued stock accuracy (54%) probably isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. What may surprise you is they value the accuracy of available stock less than ‘back in stock’ alerts (59%). Stock levels and restocking accuracy are clearly important, so accurate understanding of what stock is on hand, in transit or in the return logistics channel, can significantly impact your sales and brand loyalty.
Where 3PL can help
Real-time tracking is the key to accurate allocation and tracking of stock. However, often in-house teams end up having to split their stock across various locations such as Amazon FBA facilities or retail B2B storage. This can present a real challenge in knowing exactly how much stock you have while also incurring additional costs moving inventory between locations.
With a good 3PL partner, you’ll be able to consolidate your stock for all of your channels (B2B, Amazon, social commerce, web, and more). With an excellent 3PL, you’ll have real-time visibility of all of your inventory and receive alerts if you’re at risk of overselling. Our technology will also help you identify trends and insights into the performance of your stock so that you can become more efficient as a business.
With eCommerce shipping and logistics being so high on the consumer agenda, you need to be able to rely on your 3PL partner so that you can manage and meet customer expectations. If your 3PL partner doesn’t understand and facilitate that, you could be heading for a trust problem with your customers.
We are always happy to talk about your needs, so if your current 3PL partner is not meeting your’s or your customers’ expectations, why not call us and see how we can help?