With the arrival of Amazon, the “Amazon effect” continues to shape consumer shopping habits and behaviours, meaning your customer’s expectations on delivery are higher than ever. Today’s eCommerce landscape leaves no margin for error when it comes to the last mile; in fact, 54% of consumers said delivery now defines who they shop with.

Using survey data from 2017 we can delve deeper into the psyche of the ‘anytime, anything and anywhere’ customer, to pinpoint exactly what they loved and loathed last year and forecast trends in the year to come.

Experience and convenience  

Today’s customer demands complete control over their shipping choices; dictating where, when and how delivery happens.

The stats:

  • 50% of shoppers reported a lack of options at checkout led them to abandonment their cart
  • 35% are willing to pay a premium for more convenient shipping
  • 29% changed the delivery address of their order while in transit and 50% would so in the future if the choice was there

The takeaway:

With home delivery decreasing in popularity, providing options such as collect in-store, from a local pick-up point and delivery to a workplace or locker, is a must.

For those customers who do opt for home delivery, allowing them to nominate a day and at a time that suits, whether after hours, weekends, or within a scheduled delivery window, is the trick to ensuring delivery fits in within their hectic lifestyle.

Personalisation and Loyalty

Repeat customers expect to be acknowledged for their brand loyalty, in the form of personalisation and VIP programmes.

The stats:

  • A growing number of online shoppers (15% in 2017, compared to 2% in 2016), feel valued when the store remembers their preferred delivery options
  • 68% of Millennials utilise up to 7 delivery loyalty programmes, with 27% of shoppers belonging to at least 1
  • 86% of shoppers say a ‘VIP’ type loyalty membership would incentivise them to shop more often

The takeaway:

If you don’t have one already, setting up a loyalty programme should be top of your to-do list.

Aside from invaluable data collection benefits, the 2017 surveys show that customers shop more with e-tailers who have a loyalty, or VIP programme and are willing to pay an annual fee  if it unlocked more convenient shipping options.

The Role of Returns

Although returns are often overlooked in the pressure to perform at delivery, ignore this process at your peril in 2018.

The stats:

  • 40% of shoppers regularly over-order online, with the expectation to make returns
  • The holy grail of the online shopping experience is a ‘try before you buy’ option. In fact, 57% of consumers would be likely/very likely to use this service if it was offered
  • For retailers with a bricks and mortar offering, customers wish to return to a store at any location.
  • For online retailers, a 30-90 day returns windows is a must for 51% of customers

The takeaway:

If you’re looking to be ahead of the curve, ‘try before you buy’ will provide a major opportunity to set yourself apart this year, before it becomes the norm.

The basic premise is customers only pay the shipping costs for items they select, they can then try on and return any that don’t fit the bill, only paying for what they keep.

Consequently, the customer gets all the convenience of shopping online, without the inconvenience of waiting for refunds and complicated returns. Win-win.

Of course ‘try before you buy’ works better for some retail verticals than others, check out this article for further insight.

Speed vs Cost

This is every retailer’s shipping conundrum and it seems there’ll be no right answer in 2018 when it comes to shopper’s preferences.

The stats:

  • 54% of shoppers categorise ‘need for speed’ as their #1 delivery consideration and are prepared look elsewhere if a faster option isn’t available
  • The majority of shoppers (45%) consider delivery within 2 days as fast, but 54% want a one-hour option to metropolitan areas
  • However, there is still a low willingness for shoppers to pay a premium for expedited items…
  • and 90% of shoppers agreeing that free delivery trumps fast delivery

The takeaway:

There really isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to offering free and/or fast delivery. It’s down to your business; it’s resources, locations, product and most importantly, your customer.

A detailed analysis of all these points, along with some serious number crunching on your minimum order thresholds, margins and expenditures, is the smartest way to find your shipping option sweet spot.   

2017 taught us that the last mile should always be the first priority. With 43% of shoppers taking to social media platforms last year, to share grievances over a disappointing delivery experience, getting it wrong can be a costly mistake.

Shipping strategies should play a vital role in your business and with the internet fast becoming the shopping destination of choice; personalisation, agility and control are your customer’s ultimate deciding factors when it comes to purchasing from your store or your competitor’s.

Shippit.com is the shipping engine for modern retail. Learn more about our how our software can save you time, money and keep your customers happy this year.

Author Elena Clarke

More posts by Elena Clarke

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