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POSTED:05/23/2014 - 17:24

 

By Rob Howard, Founder and CEO, Grand Junction, Inc.
The Amazon genie is out of the bottle, and it’s not going back in. The introduction of Amazon Prime in 2005 was a highly disruptive force in retail, and, until recently, it was hard to know how successful that foray into two-day free shipping (for a fixed annual fee) would be. Analysts and consumers alike thought it was a risky, expensive venture, but the results are in: Amazon Prime members comprise only 4% of Amazon’s active customers, but they make nearly 10% of all Amazon purchases, and they spend twice as much as non-Prime members. 

Prime members purchase products across many categories. They tend to regard brick-and-mortar retailers as showrooms for products that they then go online to actually purchase. And with Prime membership expected to grow from 10 million in 2012 to 25 million in 2017, Amazon will continue to win business away from retailers who cannot adapt quickly enough.

This trend is sobering to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, who used to feel secure in having the advantage of meeting consumers’ desires for “instant gratification.” Many consumers don’t want to wait to get something in their hands; they want it now, and retail stores have traditionally been the answer. Emboldened by the success of Prime, however, other innovators such as eBay, Google, and Walmart are now offering same-day delivery services, in an increasing number of markets. Only six months after launching the eBay Now one-hour delivery service in limited markets, eBay announced plans to expand it to 25 U.S. markets in 2014. And Amazon continues to push the envelope with its Amazon Fresh offering, where the consumer can select from several different pre-scheduled delivery slots. 

You might argue that consumers don’t need same-day delivery, but the fact of the matter is that Amazon Prime is shaping mainstream expectations, and soon enough consumers will expect it to be presented as an option, just as we expect a smartphone to deliver maps, email, and picture-taking capabilities. In a survey by Bizrate Insights of more than 100,000 online buyers, nearly 24% said same-day delivery was important to them, and 6% said they’d consider shopping elsewhere if it was not offered.

For Amazon, delivery is a key component of its overall sales and marketing strategy, and the company is investing heavily in it. Rather than passing all delivery costs on to the consumer, Amazon is subsidizing shipping as a way to increase sales. And, by all accounts, it is meeting with enormous success. Rather than being caught off guard by this phenomenon, the VP of supply chain at a leading home products retailer regards it as a wake-up call that all retailers need to make it part of their overall investment strategy. “It should be like the third shift in retail, or being open on holidays. It is almost never profitable, but you need to do it to maintain your presence.”

Amazon has shaped consumer expectations with its various free shipping options, and it has the power to do it again with same-day delivery; other companies will be forced to follow suit if they want to remain competitive. For those who are still playing catch-up on diversifying the shipping options they offer, the question around implementing a same-day delivery initiative shouldn’t be “if,” but “when” and “how.” 

The Evolution of Same-Day Delivery 
Same-day delivery is not new. Before 2011, same-day delivery was primarily an offering of business-to-business retailers such as Grainger, the industrial supply distributor, who has been providing same-day delivery services for decades. Its MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) customers need to receive replacement products immediately in order to continue operating their businesses, and Grainger has in place a knowledge of local inventory, integration with networks of local delivery companies, and operational processes to make it work economically. While Grainger offers an “ASAP” delivery that is similar to the eBay Now offering, that’s a premium service. What they’ve optimized around, rather, is a two-cycle, same-day service, meaning: order something in the morning and get it by the end of the day, or, order by the end of the day and get it the next morning. 

Today, omni-channel retailing is blurring the lines between brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce retailers, forcing each to reevaluate its business models in order to stay relevant to consumers. Omni-channel retailers strive to deliver a seamless consumer experience through multiple buying channels such as mobile, Internet, brick and mortar, television, and catalogue, in order to catch a wide swath of consumers at their respective key buying moments. And they are starting to invest in updating their systems and processes to enable enterprise-wide inventory visibility and ever-faster product delivery. 

Checklist to Implement Same-Day Delivery Services 
While Amazon has certainly been giving retailers a lot of heartburn, there is an antidote. Strong competition forces leaders to reevaluate the status quo. Taking steps toward same-day delivery helps retailers meet consumers’ growing expectations for instant gratification, and making the necessary updates to their systems and processes enables them to operate more cost effectively and enhance customer satisfaction. Here is the checklist of what’s needed to offer same-day delivery: 

Adopt an Omni-Channel Management Approach 
Most retailers manage their e-commerce businesses entirely separately from their retail stores. P&Ls (profits and losses) never cross, customer bases are treated as distinct, and prices frequently differ. Same-day delivery requires planning and coordination across these boundaries. Perhaps the retail stores will need to incur costs such as hiring additional labor to help with online fulfillment, thereby blurring profit and loss across these formerly separate businesses. If your channels aren’t all pulling in the same direction, store managers may, for example, deprioritize activities related to deliveries, so that items show up late and customers are unhappy. Prices need to be aligned and centrally maintained, and loyalty information shared across channels. Delivering a high-quality, consistent customer experience requires that goals are set and shared across the various arms of the business, and incentives must be consistent throughout. 

Gain Real-Time Inventory Knowledge Across Your Enterprise 
If you already offer online ordering with in-store pickup, you have checked this box. But many retailers out there are still operating in silos that make it painful to correlate sales of products that are purchased via one channel and shipped via another. In order to realize the opportunities inherent in the omni-channel retail model, companies must break down not only the management barriers but also the information barriers that separate stores, e-commerce, and corporate. They must upgrade their inventory systems to enable centralized visibility across the enterprise, take very frequent inventory counts, increase safety stock levels, and integrate their POS, inventory, and e-commerce ordering systems so they know exactly which products they have, in real time. 

Expand Your Fulfillment Strategy 
The fulfillment strategy determines where you gather the product that has just been sold, which is why local inventory knowledge and integrated systems are so crucial to any same-day delivery strategy. Right now, when you order from eBay or Google and ask for same-day delivery, a company-employed driver goes to a nearby store and either shops for the product or picks it up from will-call, then delivers it to the customer. After analyzing regional sales volume, a company may decide to create “hub stores” or “micro-distribution centers” from which all deliveries to certain zip codes are fulfilled. This may require changing the layout of one store in a market to reduce showroom space, and adjusting staffing allocations to optimize the number of employees pulling and packing products for delivery versus working the floor and the registers. Depending on how heavily “branded” you want your delivery system to be, you may even decide to design special company packing materials. Amazon has invested heavily in local distribution, adding 18 new fulfillment centers in 2012 alone. For Walmart, this model could be especially attractive, since 96% of the U.S. population lives within 20 miles of a Walmart store, and the stores are similar to distribution centers in terms of room to maneuver, layout, and the ratio of floor-to-stockroom square footage. 


These tips should get you started. Need more? Not to worry; we'll take a look at some additional strategies to adopt in our June e-update.

 
Rob Howard is Founder and CEO, Grand Junction, Inc. Visit www.grandjunctioninc.com for more information.

POSTED:09/24/2013 - 05:19

Many retailers began prepping their November and December sales strategies this summer

 

Leaves are showing only their first hints of orange and maroon, it’s still plenty warm enough to tailgate and many of even the most diehard Halloween fans have yet to select their Oct. 31 ensembles, but retailers are already focused on tinsel and mistletoe. Or, more specifically, November and December sales.

That’s likely because retailers have a reduced window of time to capture peak holiday spending as there are only 25 days this year between the day after Thanksgiving or Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Christmas, compared with 31 days in 2012. What’s more, weekends are busy times for customers to shop and, unlike last year, consumers have four, not five, full weekends to shop for gifts.

Nonetheless, several research firms are predicting double-digit growth in U.S. holiday online retail sales. Market research firm eMarketer projects 15.1% growth in U.S. holiday online retail sales this year and Deloitte LLP predicts a 12.5 % to 13% increase in U.S. non-store (primarily online) sales. In November and December 2012, e-retail sales grew 13.7% over the prior year to $42.3 billion, according to comScore Inc., which measures consumers’ web activity.

The shorter holiday period has many retailers looking to nab consumers’ attention early this year. 49% of retailers will launch their holiday campaigns before Halloween, according to a just-released survey of 212 marketing executives at national retailers about their cross-channel holiday marketing plans by Internet traffic measurement firm Experian Marketing Services. 70% of retailers plan to use some sort of promotional offer this holiday shopping season. 39% will offer free shipping, 28% will offer a deal of the day, 21% will offer online coupons and 3% will offer layaway.

“Retailers have been extending the shopping seasons with promotions post-recession, so it’s not surprising to see that nearly half of all marketers stated they would launch a holiday campaign before Halloween,”says Bill Tancer, general manager of global research, Experian Marketing Services. “Our consumer confidence data is the highest it’s been since the recession, so we expect the early promotion trend to carry over into the holiday season with Black Friday deals being offered even earlier than last year.”

The majority of marketers began planning their holiday campaigns in the summer months, Experian finds. June earned the title as the top holiday planning month as 18% of the marketers surveyed stated they would start then. Overall, 69% of the marketers polled stated they started planning holiday campaigns by August.

The top three marketing channels retailers will use this holiday season are online display ads (59%), e-mail (55%) and print (46%). Search (30%) and mobile (24%) round out the top five, according to the Experian poll.

While Marketers didn’t rank mobile marketing as a top priority, many said they will be using mobile tactics during the holiday season. Developing mobile-optimized sites was ranked as the top mobile activity by 43% of respondents, followed by creating mobile-optimized e-mail (37%) and using mobile advertising (31%). Geolocation promotions will be used by 15% of marketers surveyed this holiday season, Experian finds.

Retailers in the U.K. may also want to consider beefing up their mobile sales strategies over the holidays.  A survey of 2,000 U.K. online consumers conducted at the end of July finds 64% of smartphone owners plan to purchase more via their mobile devices this holiday season compared to last year. Additionally, nearly all (96%) of respondents will shop online over the holidays, with 48% purchasing at least half of their holiday items on the Internet, according to the research from eDigitalResearch and U.K. e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG).

“We’ve seen sales through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) grow rapidly over the past few years, accounting for 23% of online sales in Q2 of 2013 with site visits at 34%,” says Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG.  “To put in perspective the rate at which confidence in the channel has grown, at the start of 2010, sales through mobile devices stood at just 0.4% of online sales.”

Additionally, one quarter of U.K. consumers  in the IMRG survey say they feel their online shopping experience is ‘significantly better’ or ‘slightly better’ at Christmas time thanks to special deals and a bigger range of products on offer. Just 7% feel that it gets worse. However, many don’t feel the same about store shopping. 42% feel that their in-store experience deteriorates during the festive period with busy stores, long lines and a limited number of staff to deal with the influx of shoppers.

Another holiday shopping forecast suggests shoppers in North America feel the same way about trekking to stores in November and December. North American shoppers will visit fewer stores this holiday season, predicts ShopperTrak, which monitors traffic and sales at major malls and retail chains. Store sales will rise a slight 2.4% during the holiday season compared to a year earlier, ShopperTrak predicts. That’s less growth than the 3% year-over-year increase in store sales last year. Store traffic, meanwhile, will fall 1.4% the firm predicts, compared to a year-over-year rise of 2.5% in holiday 2012.

Retailers who dig into shopper behavior across stores and the web and use it to better serve their customers across shopping channels will be in the best position to squeeze the most sales out of the holiday shopping season, says Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and retail and distribution sector leader.

"Consumers are seeing positive signals from the economy which may buoy confidence heading into the holiday season this fall," she says. "Retailers that merge consumer data from their e-commerce and in-store businesses to gain a more holistic view of their shoppers will be strategically positioned to capitalize on the upcoming holiday season.  They will also be better prepared to more appropriately target consumers—whether in-store or online—with the right marketing promotions to drive traffic and conversion."

Toys ‘R’ Us is one retailer seeking to combine its vast network of nearly 900 U.S. stores and its $1.1 billion global e-commerce business to make shopping quick and easy this holiday season.

The retailer this month announced several updates in time for the holiday season including speedier buy online, pick up in store and ship to store services. Buy online, pick up in store orders on Toysrus.com are now ready for pick-up in less than an hour, down from three hours previously.  Ship to store orders are now available for pickup in five to 10 days, improving the fulfillment time from the typical seven to 14 days, the retailer No. 30 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, says. The retailer this fall also will equip its stores with additional in-store pickup locations by enabling consumers to check in to pick up their goods at kiosks that before were only used for accessing and creating wish lists. 

Additionally, later this fall, the e-mails Toys ‘R’ Us sends shoppers informing them that their items ordered online are ready to be picked up in stores will include a map of where the pickup location is within the store they are headed to. And, as it did last year, the retailer will also offer free layaway through Dec. 15. However, new this year, and added in time for the holidays, is a feature that lets shoppers make payments towards layaway orders at ToysRUs.com after they put items on layaway in a store.

In August, Toys ‘R’ Us announced it would match in its stores the web prices of 11 other merchants including: Walmart.com, Target.com, BestBuy.com, Sears.com, Kmart.com, BuyBuyBaby.com, Meijer.com, FredMeyer.com, Diapers.com, BabyDepot.com and Amazon.com (excluding the Amazon marketplace, through which retailers other than Amazon sell on Amazon.com). Toys ‘R’ Us stores also match prices on its e-commerce sites, ToysRUs.com and BabiesRUs.com, it says, though not for its online-only deals. Nor will it match competitors’ online prices during the Thanksgiving holiday shopping period, from Sunday, Nov. 17, to Cyber Monday on Nov. 25, when it will be running other exclusive promotions instead, it says.

Internet Retailer Article:  September 20, 2013

POSTED:07/25/2013 - 23:24

Online spending will account for 8% of overall retail in this country in five years, but Canadians are still deterred by longstanding hurdles such as expensive shipping costs and a paucity of shopping choices, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

The agency predicts online retail spending in Canada will climb to $33.8-billion in 2018 from a level of $20.6-billion this year.

The news comes as many more bricks and mortar retailers, including those based in the U.S., set up a dedicated Canadian website or extend shipping to this country.

High-profile U.S. department store chains such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and J.C. Penney have started shipping to Canada this year, with easy-to-understand shipping policies and prices in Canadian dollars.

Traditional bricks and mortar retailers have also been bulking up their online channels, eyeing rival Amazon Canada’s entry into a slew of categories such as toys, electronics, health and cosmetics, entertainment and tools.

View the source.

POSTED:06/20/2013 - 23:24

By: Katie Kavulla - Source

Reasons you can’t leave the house to run the errands: The baby is still sleeping. It’s raining out. Your kids have more green snot dripping from their noses than you knew existed in the entire world. The Comcast guy is going to be there between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm. You can’t find your toddler’s left Croc. The only clean clothes in your closet is the suit you wore to your college graduation ceremony…12 years ago. It’s still raining. Sometimes, you just need someone to bring you something and surprisingly, you won’t have to dip into your kids’ piggy banks to cover the delivery fees to make it happen. Put these Seattle delivery services on speed dial, pin them to your secret Pinterest board, shout them from the rooftops of Facebook and print this article to laminate and post on your fridge. These are must-have, survival-mode sanity-savers for every Seattle parent.

1. Because… Nobody will know if you order two-dozen

SEATTLE-Delivery-Photos-Trophy-Cupcakes

Do we even need to explain why this is so fantastic? Cupcakes? Delivered to your front door? Well, only if you insist. (We do.) Trophy Cupcakes, a Seattle family favorite delivers their goodies in both Seattle and Bellevue. Perfect for eliminating one errand off of your birthday party to-do list or just because it’s Tuesday.

Details: Delivery every day of the week, except Sunday. $15 delivery fee applies, plus tax. Place your order online at trophycupcakes.com by 4:00 pm to have your cupcakes delivered the next day. Choose from their everyday favorite flavors, including daily specials, or, pick from themed boxes, which are perfect for celebrations.

2. Because… You’re always running out

SEATTLE-Delivery-Photos-Storyville

There is absolutely no worse way for a Seattle parent to start their day than by realizing that they are out of coffee… again. Local roasters — straight out of Bainbridge Island — Storyville Coffee Company, is the answer to every “I-was-up-all-night-with-a-teething-baby” parent’s prayers. (Psst! We hear they’re opening a pretty cool location at Pike Place Market soon!)

Details: Jump on the Storyville website to check out the Private Reserve Membership options. Choose from delivery every week or every other week. Shipping is free to Seattle and beyond.

3. Because… Babies deserve delivery too

SEATTLE-Delivery-Photos-Garden-Grow

You would absolutely love to make your baby fresh food at home, but considering you’re so sleep deprived that you can’t even remember if you own a food processor, let alone where it is in your kitchen, maybe you should let Garden Grow Organic Delivery take over. Available in first foods with single ingredients, such as Pure Pears, up to toddler favorites, like the tasty Pear and Blueberry Garden Grow Porriage, everything is made fresh, less than 24-hours before your order arrives on your porch.

Details: Visit the Garden Grow website to get started with your order. Orders for Tuesday deliveries must be placed by midnight on the Saturday before. Or, place your order by Tuesday at midnight for a Friday delivery. A $10 delivery fee will apply to orders under $35.

4. Because… You need that in bulk

You might want to sit down for this one. Genius Delivery will go to Costco for you and deliver it to your house. And, you don’t even have to have a Costco membership. Are you wondering why you’ve been battling the checkout lines and those monstrous, hard-to-push carts all this time? Yeah, us too.

Details: First, visit the Genius Delivery website to see what is available in your Seattle-area zip code. Next, fill your cart with whatever you need from Costco, Walmart and, coming soon, Whole Foods. You can shop from multiple stores in the same delivery session. Delivery fees are approximately $5-10, depending on your location and the stores you choose. Same day delivery requires that you place your order three-hours in advance.

5. Because… You have nothing to wear tonight

Some call it the Mothership. You may know it simply as Nordstrom. Either way, their same-day delivery service for Seattle and the Eastside can really come in handy when you just can’t handle taking the entire crew shopping with you. No matter how family-friendly Nordstrom stores may be, there are days when it’s just not going to happen.

Details: As long as what you’re swooning after is available in your local Seattle-area store, it will qualify for same-day delivery. Check out the entire listing of zip codes they deliver to on the Nordstrom website, then simply shop online like usual, choosing the same-day delivery option at checkout. Delivery will run you $15, a small price to pay to get those shoes that you need to wear on date night.

6. Because… You need to do something with that $500 Vitamix you bought on a whim

SEATTLE-Delivery-Photos-Seattle-Squeeze

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that juicing is the new way to get your kiddos to take their daily dose of fruits and veggies. Mama juicing addicts? Meet Seattle Squeeze. They delivery a big, bountiful box of goodies to get you through an entire week of juicing and you can get to work decifering your juicer’s instruction book.

Details: Choose from a variety of juice-blend boxes, plus a weekly subscription plan, which start with as few as four-weeks of delivery. Deliveries arrive on your doorstep between 6 pm on Monday and 6 am on Tuesday each week.

7. Because… There’s no way you can fit three-dozen balloons in your car

SEATTLE-Delivery-Photos-Balloons

Practically a Seattle institution, The Red Balloon Company will create and deliver balloons that will make your Pinterest followers crumple to their knees with birthday party decoration envy. Because really, every one of us has tried to stuff a dozen-too-many balloons into our car before… we know how that story ends. POP!

Details: Deliveries are available seven days a week. A minimum order of $45 applies, plus a delivery fee and a $10 online processing fee. Same day deliveries are often available, check out their website for specifics.

8. Because… There’s an app for that

Seattle’s newest delivery service, Postmates operates through an app on your phone, delivering everything and anything you might need — from late night Children’s Tylenol deliveries to a bowl of chili from Norm’s in Fremont — they have you covered… in under an hour.

Details: The app is free to download. Delivery fees begin at $5 and you pay for everything in advance, so there is no exchange of cash with your Postmate, which is what they call their delivery people. You can even track them on your phone as they grab your delivery and bring it to you.

9. Because… Those margaritas aren’t going to make themselves

You’ve heard rumors about beer, wine and liquor delivery services in the past, but thanks to Washington State’s strict laws, sadly, these businesses seem to disappear quicker than a mom can pop a cork on a bottle of white on a Friday night. We’re not sure why or how Downtown Spirits has made the cut, but we will certainly be taking advantage of their same-day delivery service while it’s around!

Details: Place your order online on the Downtown Spirits website before 3:00 pm for same-day delivery. $10 delivery fee applies and delivery must be received in-person by someone at least 21-years old with valid ID. In other words, your high school aged babysitter can’t sign for your bourbon.

Do you have any favorite Seattle delivery services or businesses that deliver? Share your favorites with us!

– Katie Kavulla

Photos via Kristina Moy, Katie Kavulla, Storyville Coffee Company Facebook pageGarden Grow Facebook page, Seattle Squeeze Facebook page, and Trophy Cupcake

POSTED:05/28/2013 - 18:59

By: Kendra Hagerman, Freelance Fashion Writer and Founder, Vancitypretty.com 

As a Canadian, there's an unfortunate reality that we are forced to accept: sometimes, we get the short end of the stick.

We are used to being excluded from contests, not being able to see our favourite touring artist, enjoying a fraction of the Netflix movies that our American neighbours have access to, crossing borders to get our favourite food or brands, and feeling disappointed when we find out that a website won't ship to our glorious country.

But times are changing, and major brands, companies, and stores are considering their Canadian customers.

Since part one of this two part article launched, three major labels have introduced Canadian-friendly websites, meaning more choices for Canadians when it comes to online shopping. Catch up by reading part one, and bookmark some of the latest and greatest websites that ship to Canada.

Shopbop -- A favourite among designer label fans, Shopbop offers a comprehensive collection of quality items all in on place. Shop their 70 per cent off section for some of the best deals on designer labels, and take advantage of their free international express shipping. Pay duty upfront or upon delivery, depending which shipping option you choose.

Gilt Groupe -- This flash sale website offers instant access to designer labels at up to 60 per cent off. A similar concept to Beyond the Rack, Guilt charges a flat shipping rate of $20. Membership is free, but act quickly if you find something that catches your eye; quantities are limited and sales only last a few days.

Zara -- One of the more recent Canadian-friendly websites, Zara Canada launched in March 2013. Ship your order to any Canadian Zara store for pick-up free of charge, to any Canadian address for just $5, or express for just $10. Change your mind once it arrives at our door? Return the unworn item to a Canadian Zara store within one month for an easy refund.

eLUXE -- One of the few luxury fashion websites based in Canada, eLUXE describes themselves as a marriage between magazine and merchandise. Their Ask a Stylist section offers custom advice and styling tips, and all products are shipped from within Canada, which means no surprise duty charges or taxes.

LOFT -- In early 2013, the accessible, trendy, and youthful sister-label to Ann Taylor started shipping to over 100 countries, including Canada. The brand offers everything from work staples to weekend wear, and includes duties in the final purchase price.

The Outnet -- Brought to you by the team behind Net-A-Porter, The Outnet sells discounted designer womenswear and accessories. Product can be limited, but discounts are deep, which means you may want to stock up and take advantage of their $24.95 flat rate shipping cost.

Revolve Clothing -- Since its launch in 2003, Revolve Clothing has expanded its product line to include over 500 men's and women's designer shoes, apparel, and accessories. Shipping is free for orders over $100, and duties/taxes are due upon arrival.

Amazon Beauty -- Amazon may not be the first website that comes to mind when you need to stock up on beauty products, but their two new online stores will change this. Together, Amazon Beauty and Amazon Health & Personal Care carry 80,000 products, including makeup, perfume, hair care, and skin care. All products ship from within Canada, so you'll never have to worry about paying duty or extra taxes.

Haute Look -- Acquired by Nordstrom in March 2011, HauteLook's sales start each day at 8 a.m. Pacific time. Shop some of the best names in fashion, beauty, and home décor at up to 75 per cent off with no surprises. All costs (shipping, GST, PST, and duties) will be displayed when you check out, and what you see is what you pay.

eShakti -- Take the guesswork out of online shopping with eShakti. Shop their women's apparel in standard sizes, or for an extra $7.50, enter your custom measurements and get your item tailed to your body. Be your own designer, and customize your order by adjusting the sleeve length, adding pockets, or changing the neckline. Shipping rates depend on the order value, and new product is added regularly.

Source.

POSTED:05/01/2013 - 21:33

By: Armando Roggio

Shipping can be one of the most stressful parts of an online transaction. The customer has already paid for a product, but does not actually have it in hand. And the retailer — devoted to excellent customer service — has no control over the carrier.

In spite of this, there are some commonsense steps a retailer can take to at least help the customer feel more comfortable with the process. Here are seven simple ways to improve a customer's shipping experience.

1. Provide an Estimated Delivery Date

At checkout, some 60 percent of online shoppers want to see either an estimated delivery date or — better yet — a guaranteed delivery date for each available shipping option, according to a 2012 comScore report.

Although it may seem like showing an estimated shipping date would be commonsense, this is still a feature that many online stores are missing.

Imagine the shopper who is buying a birthday present for her nephew. His birthday is Saturday. She’s ordering on Wednesday. Does she need FedEx 2nd Day? UPS overnight? Would USPS Priority Mail work? Without delivery dates, she cannot really make a good decision. If she has a limited budget that would exclude the overnight option, she might just decide to shop elsewhere or pick a less expensive item.

When it comes to delivery, customers have different expectations.

2. Double Up on Shipping Notifications

Shipping notification emails are typically no big deal when they arrive. When a customer receives one, he might just glance at it and delete it. Maybe he will let it linger in his inbox or a folder in case something happens. But for the most part it gets little attention. But if that shipping notification email doesn’t show up at all, that customer may call the retailer, believing something has gone wrong.

In addition to notifications from the retailer, FedEx, the U.S. Post Office, and UPS all offer their own email notifications, too. It can be a good idea to double up on these, meaning that both the retailer and the carrier send the customer an email. If one notification gets tangled in a spam filter, the other one might make it through. Plus, the FedEx or Post Office notification reinforces the merchant’s own message.

Often these secondary emails can be created by the retailer right along with the label.

3. Offer SMS Updates

Text messages — which are more formally known as SMS — are incredibly popular. On a typical day American mobile phone users will collectively send and receive more than 6 billion of them, according to Forrester. What’s more certain customer segments prefer SMS to email.

Infrastructure-as-a-service companies like Twilio make it relatively easy to send shoppers SMS order and shipping notifications. It is little more than commonsense to give shoppers the option to receive SMS notifications too. This is especially thoughtful considering that roughly 11 percent of ecommerce sales come from mobile devices.

4. Provide Many Shipping Options

“Online shoppers have a range of time they are willing to wait for the delivery of their orders,” explained comScore in its Online Shopping Customer Experience Study. “Retailers that offer a range of delivery time options allow themselves to appeal to a wider range of customers. While 48 percent of customers stated that they are not willing to wait more than five days for most of their purchases, 23 percent said they would be willing to wait eight days or more.”

5. Streamline Processing

Despite the comScore study on tolerable shipping times, faster is still better.

Try to streamline order fulfillment, minimizing the time between when an order is placed and when that order is shipped. There are typically a couple of common bottlenecks.

Make sure that those who do the packing are notified immediately when an order is placed. In small retail businesses where employees have more than one job to do, consider using SMS or even an automated phone call to notify the packer.

Streamline the packing process too. For example, have plenty of box sizes, easy packing materials, and easy-to-use tape dispensers, so that the physical task of packing goes more quickly.

Even label-specific printers can help to improve speed.

6. Offer Reliable, Helpful Online Tracking Information

Three quarters of online shoppers said that order-tracking information was an important service, again according to comScore.

Let customers have plenty of options for package tracking, including on-site tracking, links to the carrier’s site for tracking, and the ability to track orders from mobile devices.

Source

POSTED:03/07/2013 - 20:57

Lauren Sherman writes why retailers will need to adjust their marketing tactics. Read the article

Enroute's solutions enable retailers to compete effectively with Amazon by providing software that facilitates same-day shipping services, store to consumer shipping, and analytics to ensure each package is delivered in the best method possible and at the lowest cost available. 

Read our customer testimonials.

Please contact us for more information!

 

 

POSTED:02/27/2013 - 21:00

It's 2013 and free shipping truly has become an expectation and a requirement. Click the image below to read about another business who has given in to free shipping within the continental U.S.

POSTED:02/08/2013 - 20:20

Via RetailWire

With multi-channel retailing the rage, we thought it would be interesting to look at a report released by PwC this week, based on a study of 11,000 shoppers globally, which attempts to debunk what it claims are common myths... read the full article here

POSTED:01/30/2013 - 01:45

Retailers post mixed reviews via Internet Retailer.

Read more.

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ShipIt! Connect

Vendors, Stores & Customers

ShipIt! Connect links your supply chain by automating transfers, returns, and drop shipping - to and from vendors and stores - all under your routing instructions. Compete more effectively by enabling your vendors and stores to fulfill orders directly.

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