Regardless of whether your fashion business happens online, in-store, or both – shipping, delivery and returns are a major deal-breaker when customers expect fast and free fulfilment.
Unfortunately, sellers no longer retain control over deliveries, and satisfying the instant gratification itch is pushing retailers to make their products available when and where their consumers want them. Where 3 to 5-day delivery windows used to be status quo, services like instant pickup and on-demand delivery are shifting more control into the hands of consumers because if one online store can’t provide them with what they want, there are most likely a handful of competitors that can.
As more and more consumers expect to receive their order instantly, retailers need to be on the front foot to compete in the delivery-speed war. With a growing gamut of delivery options available, choosing the right delivery options is especially difficult for fashion retailers because of its uniquely fast moving nature.
To make sense of changing consumer demands, we’ve summarised what you need to know about making fast and free shipping work for you and your customers.
1. The Right Shipping Options
In the battle of online vs in-store, it comes down to convenience. Think about it this way – if a customer is looking for a pair of shoes, they walk into a store looking for a product and ideally walk out with the product in their hands. In the bricks and mortar reality, the transaction is instant and there’s no delay in fulfilment.
With people working 9 to 5 and the growing popularity of online shopping, consumers are demanding more control over delivery. To close the expectation gap between online and offline, eCommerce retailers need to up the ante by offering on-demand shipping options that compete with the convenience.
Fashion retailers are also at a particular disadvantage when it comes to the cost of priority shipping. Many consumers order online for particular events, and in these cases they’ll be willing to pay a little extra to receive their items the next day. But a large portion of consumers are also content to wait if they’re offered free or flat rate shipping. Understanding your customers and offering them the right delivery options at various price points will not only bring your shipping costs down, but it’ll make sure your customers are never left disappointed with expensive shipping costs. You can read about how to effectively implement a multi-carrier shipping strategy in our previous post.
You can see in the above example, Ally Fashion advertises free shipping for orders over $50 and free click and collect above the fold on their homepage so prospective customers ca’t miss it. Communicating your shipping options to consumers before they commit to buying is an important element in driving conversions if you’re able to advertise the right options for the right customers.
2. Meeting Customer Expectations
Your customers have expectations around when they expect their order. Take the ‘need it now’ scenario, for example. If your customer has a function or event on the weekend and they realise they have nothing to wear, they’ll expect a dress or outfit ordered on Thursday morning to be received by Friday morning, at the latest. If not, by Thursday afternoon. You wouldn’t expect the same for a couch or computer, but the bar is set high and fast for fashion.
Take a look at the Iconic example above, they offer free shipping, fast delivery and free returns right off the bat to avoid pre-purchase buyers remorse. They’re a great example of meeting the customer expectation of instant gratification spliced with a touch of free shipping.
In a competitive environment where a cheaper, faster option is always a click away, online retailers need to be at the top of their game. Being reactive and slow can cost you revenue and loyalty. If your competitors are offering same-day delivery and free returns, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to compete.
With your customers only an email or message away, there’s no point speculating what they want when you could ask them. Sending a simple survey to your customers can help you curate a delivery and returns service that makes sense for both your business and your customers.
3. Consider Using a 3PL
In some cases, third party logistics providers can reduce shipping costs enormously and they help to safeguard your business from any mishaps that might occur during fulfilment. When you’ve got a fashion label, you want to be able to spend time curating your items and selecting products that will resonate with your audience, not waste time packing satchels in time for the courier.
4. Same-Day Delivery
Driven by the ‘want it now’ generation of shoppers, online retailers are now offering same-day delivery, with some offering a 3-hour delivery window. To make the most of this, integrate with a platform like Shippit that recommends the best way to pack your order and finds the best carrier for the job.
5. Click and Collect
If your business has a bricks-and-mortar boutique or a retail footprint, you can make the most of in-store pickups. Offering click-and-collect allows your customers to shop for items online, pay and then pick up in store.
6. Ship from Store
Ship-from-store fulfilment is where traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers use stock that’s sitting on their shelves to pick, pack and dispatch online orders. Instead of warehouses or 3PL facilities, a ship-from-store approach treats each store as a mini distribution centre. One of the main advantages of rolling out a ship-to-store strategy is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a global fashion behemoth or a small suburban boutique if you’ve got stock on the shelf – you can ship it.
7. Managing The Last Mile
‘The last mile’ is considered the Holy Grail of eCommerce shipping. Your store may have a fantastic product range and user experience, but if the shipment gets lost in transit, or arrives damaged, it could taint the overall experience.
Unless you handle your deliveries, there’s little you can do to control the last mile directly. But, you can leverage Shippit’s platform to provide your customers with transparent tracking from your store, right to their door.
If multiple shipping and delivery options are something you want to offer your customers but isn’t something your website or business is geared up for, consider outsourcing it. Shippit will recommend the best way to pack your order and find the best carrier for the job.
Shippit powers shipping for Australia’s most iconic retailers and provides customers across the nation with a perfect delivery experience. Our solutions were built for modern retail, empowering you to Pack & Ship Faster, Track & Notify Your Customers, and Report on the metrics that matter the most.