Delivery Confirmation Can Keep Customers from Disappearing

In ecommerce, we quite rightly focus most of our attention on driving shoppers to our site, improving the user experience and pushing customers through the checkout – after all, this is the secret to ecommerce success, isn’t it? But what happens after they’ve converted and successfully placed an order?

With such a focus on the transaction, it’s easy for retailers to forget that the customer’s shopping experience doesn’t end when the customer leaves your website. It ends when they have received their product, and more importantly, when they are happy with what they’ve ordered and the service they’ve experienced. With the holiday season fast approaching, now is a key time to consider your whole customer journey from checkout right through to delivery.

There’s no doubt that shipping can be one of the most stressful parts of shopping online. As both a consumer and a retailer, you generally have little control over the carrier and can feel left in the dark. Beyond shipping costs, undelivered parcels mean extra fees and a damaged reputation for your company. So what can you do about it?

One of the obvious ways to tackle this tension is by providing customers with estimated delivery times. Shoppers may have to take a day off work or make special arrangements for someone to wait for an item to arrive; providing allocated delivery slots allows customers to choose a time that is most convenient to them. Offering delivery windows dramatically improves the level of customer service you can offer as a business. It’s not only a competitive advantage, it’s the kind of service level consumers will expect when ordering online.

We recently polled over 300 U.S. consumers on their online shopping habits and delivery experiences. Unsurprisingly, over three quarters of shoppers surveyed said that they would like retailers to confirm when an order is on its way. Confirmation of delivery not only builds consumer confidence and reduces queries to customer service, it can also provide a fantastic opportunity to encourage repeat orders and build a stronger relationship with your customer.

The survey also highlighted the growing popularity of delivery confirmation via SMS. What’s more, certain customer segments (particularly younger shoppers), prefer notifications by text message to email. This trend is likely to grow considering almost half of ecommerce sales now come from shoppers on mobile devices.

Of course, sending delivery confirmation, and indeed the actual delivery, is dependent on capturing accurate contact data from the customer in the first place. In a test conducted with Usability experts ‘Etre’, Luke Wroblewski found that real-time validation caused a 22% increase in success rates and 31% increased satisfaction rating. Every form field presents an opportunity for human error, technical error, confusion and frustration.  Although mistyped data is often the fault of the customer, it is up to the vendor to make sure they collect accurate address and contact details, as they will be the ones to bear the brunt of the customer’s disappointment when their parcel disappears.

Retailers cannot take anything for granted this year – one bad experience can tarnish your business forever. In fact, over 80% of shoppers indicated that they would be unlikely to shop with a retailer again if they failed to deliver.

Emma Stone is COO of PCA Predict.

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