Securing a Full-on Fulfilment Strategy
Chris Morley might not be a retailer anymore, but his years of experience selling online means he knows what to look out for when delivering products to customers.
Last month I wrote an article examining some terms traditional retailers use and how we can apply them online, with one of the terms being ‘shrinkage’. Recently I also wrote on the negative issues that can impact a customer’s decision to buy, highlighting delivery as a major factor in online purchasing decisions.
As I said last month, shrinkage in a retail sense is about allocating a budget through an understanding that some items will be stolen from your store; sad but true. Luckily in online online retail people generally can’t steal your product and get out of your store without giving you money. Online stores, like traditional stores, are susceptible to fraud through dodgy credit cards; while online stores are also susceptible to ‘non-delivered’ items.
Having sold online for years, I share the frustration with online sellers that get messages from customers such as, ‘I haven’t got my product yet’ – when you know full well it was shipped last week and would have arrived by now. Outside of peak periods like Christmas and the odd natural disaster such as floods, bushfire etc., sellers are very good at understanding delivery times and expectations; especially those who sell on eBay. And if you don’t know delivery times as a seller: spend this afternoon researching it, before adding content to your site about your partners, the services you use and delivery expectations and options.
So when the ‘item hasn’t arrived’, online sellers often have a wave of suspicion creep over them – ‘I know I shipped it, my other parcels have arrived, this one must have as well’ – might be the thoughts that go through your head as a seller. The next thoughts will be, ‘What do I do? Can I blame the logistics company? Do I think the buyer is lying and how do I prove I sent it?’
Passing or not accepting blame isn’t what the customer wants to hear. There is only one person who can solve the issue and that is you as the seller.
As a seller you need to have set out your delivery, returns and missing items policy clearly on your site; these policies will then have to be supported by the delivery options providing by your logistics company.
Selling in Australia is so different from that of UK or USA; the size of our great country and population spread make some services cost inefficient and lengthy. Delivery and logistics companies have grown with the industry and must be given credit for embracing the online community as they see where their future business growth will be coming from. Sellers do have an increased number of options and cost points these days compared to even a year ago.
In order to continue the high standards our industry wants to achieve, it is important your online business can match the expectations of the customers. For instance, The Iconic offering 3 hour local delivery is innovative and market leading, but how long before it becomes an expectation by customers?
The days of not knowing where your parcel is should be over.
Our industry has options that ensure delivery or at the very least can discover where the hold up might be. Signature delivery might be something your company wants to avoid (as leaving a card in a letter box can be inconvenient to the customer), but again there are options for this with around-the-clock pick-up centres appearing from Australia Post and Parcel Point. BRW Magazine has listed this initiative as one of the freshest for 2012 and caters brilliantly for our growing eCommerce market. It will gather interest and take up over time, and your business can be at the forefront of these innovations. Given these ideas are becoming available, it is imperative your business engages with your logistics provider and can also present multiple options for your buyers. Give them the choice.
Packages of all sizes are being shipped daily, more and more each day. The services being offered are available for your business to track and locate your item at any time. The expectation of your customer is that as soon as they pay – you ship! Local delivery options are something that will increase your service offering, attracting local shoppers away from overseas sellers.
Seeking more information on how to get an online retail venture off to a flying start? See our complete A-Z guide, Power Up: The Online Retail Entrepreneur’s Guide.