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Shipping and delivery: Retaining ecommerce customers to the end

In recent data from StellaService, 10 UK retailers were investigated for their ability to ship and deliver products to their customers. ASOS, Marks & Spencer, Currys and Argos were all included and were observed over the three month Christmas period. Currys was the only one on the list that offered free shipping for all orders, Argos delivered in three days, and ASOS was one of the only ones to include a prepaid label in the package.  In another piece of research by Metapack (in association with Forrester Consulting) the majority of retailers in France (88%), Germany (67%) and the UK (70%) agreed that next day home delivery drives customers coming back for repeat purchasing. Excellence in delivery is one of the most important aspects of multi channel ecommerce. This is perhaps a reason why many online businesses use third party couriers to manage the shipping and delivery process. It is also the stage of the process which retailers have the least control over, so making sure customers have a great online experience is crucial.

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Over 67% of online shoppers expect there to be more than one delivery option if they are paying an additional shipping fee.  Rather than waiting until the end to show a shipping or delivery cost, more than half of shoppers want to see delivery dates and prices earlier on in the checkout process. Click and collect is a phenomenon that has only happened in the last few years and retailers can save on shipping fees and increases the chance of a customer buying and then returning.  This of course can be more difficult when shipping internationally, as times and delivery dates vary. Retailers should quote delivery times in days to each country/region for example.

Nowadays, almost all ecommerce stores offer the option of tracked delivery. In a 2013 UPS study, over 50% of shoppers think it is important to receive delivery updates when the package will be delivered the following day and when it is delivered. Even so, multi channel ecommerce retailers still seem to be behind on tracking deliveries. Amazon’s is one of the most the most advanced, offering a wide range of options including economy, premium time slot delivery, same day delivery and click and collect. Provision of tracking information ensures customers are clear on the status of their order, whether still in transit or e.g.  delivered to their mailbox or to a neighbour. Amazon round off the whole process with a message asking the customer how their all-round experience was.

Making returns fair
To ensure the other end of the process also goes smoothly, it is essential retailers also have a clear and fair returns policy. Customers expect to be able to return items easily and receive a refund within a two week slot. Therefore making the refund policy clear is vital for the process to run smoothly. (Topshop.com has clear instructions below)

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Including a prepaid label and a Return or Exchange form is also becoming the norm, whereas bigger, high street brands accept an item being returned in person to a physical store. Exchanging items will obviously add to this time.

One thing that is clear throughout the whole process is that not only do customers  expect timely and accurate communication throughout the delivery of their product, but also a good level of support from the retailer, allowing themselves to be contactable through email and phone .

How Volo can help
Volo enables multi channel retailers to tailor their delivery offering to their individual requirements. A full selection of UK and International courier integrations are available including Royal Mail, Parcelforce, DPD, Fedex, UPS, Hermes and UK Mail to name but a few. In addition we offer links to carrier management solutions such as Metapack and integrators such as NetDespatch.

Volo can intelligently allocate the order to a range of delivery methods based on factors such as value, weight and destination via a sophisticated rules engine.

Once integrated, there are no additional per parcel processing fees associated with direct couriers and full bi-directional communication is enabled with the couriers’ IT systems. Volo's multi channel ecommerce software generates integrated courier labels for many couriers with the tracking number automatically allocated. When orders are shipped, Volo can push tracking number information direct to eBay or Amazon and other ecommerce marketplaces or send the customer a pre-formatted email with a link to the courier’s own tracking page for their order.

This can dramatically reduce customer service costs by empowering customers to check the status of their delivery without contacting the seller. It’s also a better experience for the customer.

You can learn more about Shipping and Delivery best practices by contacting your Volo Customer Success Team.

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