Approaching Shipping Delays During the Pandemic

shipping delays clock on package feature

The U.S. Postal Service just isn’t what it used to be — at least when it comes to speedy deliveries. While operational changes are part of the problem, the pandemic hasn’t done the USPS any favors as significant shipping delays (and frustrations) arose over the 2020 holiday season.

Consumers aren’t thrilled, but small businesses have been hit hardest as the Postal Service is sometimes their only option for delivering goods. As a result of these ongoing issues, many ecommerce companies hustled to find creative solutions for their delivery and supply chain.

When Shipping Goes Awry

Shipping delays and supply chain disruptions are nothing new in ecommerce, but this past year has definitely been a challenge. Unsurprisingly, an unprecedented ecommerce spike helped Amazon achieve an incredible jump in sales. To prioritize certain essential items, however, Amazon began regulating sales and shipments, an unusual step that led to shipping delays on certain orders and drew the ire of customers.

While the tech giant could weather the storm, some small businesses weren’t so lucky. For example, Pinch Spice Market customers experienced similar problems and pinned the blame on the retailer rather than the USPS. The market’s owner responded by offering free replacements, coupons and refunds. It wasn’t cheap, but those efforts ultimately helped maintain customer satisfaction.

On-time delivery has become a staple of ecommerce. Although not all aspects of the logistics side of things are within your control, you can take steps to ensure satisfaction on every order.

Rounding Out Fulfillment — Rain or Shine

According to a Convey study, 84% of consumers are unlikely to make future purchases after a poor last-mile delivery experience. When finalizing your delivery process during uncertain times, leave nothing to chance.

Here are four places to focus your attention:

Start with a Foundation of Transparency

Customers should feel like they can trust you. Earn that faith by maintaining transparency as much as possible throughout the delivery process.

Keep communication open, provide all the necessary tracking details and give customers real-time updates should the estimated delivery time change. Under promise and over deliver, as they say. There’s nothing quite like surprising customers with better-than-expected results.

Streamline the Entire Buying Process

A lot can go wrong with fulfillment, and not all issues stem from delivery alone. In fact, Convey found 11% of all ecommerce orders experience some sort of shipping breakdown.

A few options exist to overcome these issues, including partnerships with third-party logistics providers. You should also review the entire purchase process to identify potential problems. Is your checkout page convoluted or confusing? Does it provide expected delivery dates and options? An NRF study found that 65% of shoppers check free shipping thresholds before making a purchase.

Ensure relevant information is clear and easily found on every webpage. Do the same with the payment process. Your goal is to set and reinforce expectations in each phase of the buying process, thus lessening the chances of dissatisfaction.

Offer Multiple Shipping Options

Many businesses now offer tiered shipping, with rates decreasing based on cart value or length of delivery time. This is one of several shipping options you might consider.

Another potential offer could be free two-day shipping, of course, which also helps reduce cart abandonment. Aside from treating a cart like a potential shopping list, unexpected delivery costs are one of the main reasons customers abandon a purchase. Before you commit to this option, conduct some A/B testing to see what it can do for your conversion rates.

Diversify Carriers

Working with a single carrier can pose a risk. If something goes wrong or changes, it’s great to have alternatives to fall back on.

Let’s say, for instance, you need to deliver a package within a specific timeframe. Relying on a single carrier could come at quite a cost to make this happen. As such, work with as many shipping carriers as possible. This seemingly minor move could offer greater negotiating power to get better rates.

Quick fixes are few and far between, but planning ahead can help hinder many of the issues associated with shipping delays. Think about the customer experience from start to finish, look at all the delivery options and use your negotiating power to secure the best rates possible while ensuring timely deliveries.

Jan Bednar is the CEO and founder of ShipMonk