One of the most important things for merchants to focus on is what their customer wants, and to anticipate their ever changing needs. This holds true in pretty much every single facet of your business, whether you sell online or through brick and mortar locations or even both. When you know exactly what your customers’ needs (or expectations) are, you can cater your product selection as well as their user experience or shopping experience. Ultimately this will help to drive more sales, and elevate brand experiences, which impacts your bottom line and increase your repeat customer rate.
Crafting unique and memorable shopping experiences
It is pretty obvious that when a customer has a great, tailored shopping experience (whether that’s online or offline) with your products, and/or stores, they are more likely to come back or recommend you to a friend. This is basically common sense, however shockingly, not all merchants are focused on crafting a unique, and memorable experience for their customers. Amazing isn’t it? Especially in this extremely competitive retail landscape when most companies are competing for the same crop of market share. Just remember, in this digitalized age, bad reviews and word of mouth travels quicker than before, whether it’s through a third party review website (ie. Yelp, Urban Spoon etc), or social media channels, poor reviews can threaten the livelihood of your business.
Most of us are consumers one-way or another. Consciously or subconsciously, contributing to a business’ success. As a consumer, I choose where I shop and whose service I use based on my previous interactions with them. This blog post was written with the purpose to provide businesses with a quick analysis of the implications of bad shipping experiences, and how to better structure their business to anticipate customer needs.
A Customer’s Shipping Experience: Why it matters
In the world of eCommerce, the part of the sales funnel where merchants have the least control is when an order is actually shipped to a customer. Given that you’re passing not only your products but also the entire shopping experience to a third party, there’s a lot of trust that goes into this process, and a lot that can go wrong before the customer actually receives their order. Therefore it is critical to choose your shipping couriers wisely, since shipping is the last touch point with your customer. If this hand off leads to a poor overall shopping experience, it can leave a negative perception of the merchant’s actual ability to service their customer.
As an avid online shopper, I have had my own fair share of bad experiences with courier companies, especially with a specific courier company (that I will not name, so let us call it BAD COURIER). So, it absolutely amazes me when this company continues to operate the way it does, especially inside such the competitive and crowded courier sector (// end rant).
When purchasing an item online, consumers are thinking about shipping methods and the three things they are most concerned with are: price, duration, and support.
Price: comparatively speaking, is this the most economic rate out of all the shipping couriers?
Duration: how long will this package take to reach me?
Support: if the package is lost, stolen, damaged, what will the service provider do?
In the shipping landscape, there are numerous couriers; many of which, have begun tailoring their business model to meet the needs of the consumer. Every single courier is fighting to gain market share. However, it’s imperative for merchants to understand that providing the cheapest price does not guarantee that consumers will use your service. A few dollars cheaper in freight does not compensate a longer than necessary transit times. This is also the case with customer service. In an era where the customer is king, you need to anticipate their needs and actively work to solve their problems. This is the only way that customers will continue to go to your business, especially since courier is a service-based business. You are not going to be able to monopolize the market because you are not providing a unique product. The only way to grow your market share is to provide a level of service that needs to be unprecedented.
Typically when a customer is deciding what service to use, they will quick go through a quick analysis inside their head to formulate their decision.
A quick analysis of the company in discussion would be as follows:
Price: comparatively speaking, it is perhaps a few percent cheaper than other courier services
Duration: Length of delivery time varies based on service level, however it is on par with industry standards
Support: Call center hours are from 8am – 8 pm on weekdays and no support on the weekend. Lack of support via the call center is notorious known amongst consumers. Stolen packages are also rampant and are known issues with this company. Horrible experience encountered previously.
*Note*: It is interesting to note that while pricing does offer an incentive for customers to choose their service, unless it is a notable difference, support (brand image) will usually sway the customer’s decision. In the end, if you have to go through hours of painstaking phone calls to get your package just so you can save a dollar is just not worth it.
In the end, the consumer – in this case, me – will proceed with using another service if a basic satisfying criteria cannot be met (one of the most important being support). Especially when the other couriers are willing to match the rate offered by perhaps said, BAD COURIER.
But playing the other side, so what if a customer decides to drop BAD COURIER? It is a drop in the bucket for them right? But you have to look at it in another light, how do you know that this is the only implication? I could work as the logistics manager for a large corporation, where due to this personal experience I decide to switch courier corporation wide. You then just lost a large account, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. I could also be extremely outspoken about my experience and take it to social media to voice my concerns, which will reach an even broader audience, and perhaps convince others not to use your service. As a business, you must consider these implications with your shipping courier, to ensure the overall shopping experience is a positive one every time for your customers.