Shipping delays have become an inherent part of the eCommerce industry. Ever since the first major quarantine, there has been an increase in demand for shipping and a decrease in available drivers. Shipping delays aren't just typical, they should be expected. Unfortunately, this is bad for customer experience.
On the flip-side, customers have become accustomed to two-day shipping, overnight speeds, and brands competing to have the fastest shipping. How can a Shopify e-Commerce store maintain a positive customer experience while also dealing with the high possibility of shipping delays? The answer is transparency; at every layer. The more transparent you are with your clients, and the better you counterbalance the delay, the happier your customers will remain.
The best way to prepare your customers to be calm about shipping delays is to prepare them. Let them know when to expect shipping delays, what the causes are, and give a realistic window for order arrival. As a rule, customers would rather be pleasantly surprised that a package arrives early in the window than nervous because a package is late.
Plan to be transparent about shipping at several steps in the conversion process. This creates expectation management for shipping times when customers are shopping, tailoring their carts, and checking out.
First, let your customers know if you see delayed shipping on the horizon. Post a banner on your main page if there is bad weather or other types of delays and the affected shipping regions. This is a great way to tell your customers that you are on their side when it comes to shipping delays. Your brand is doing everything you can to get their orders out swiftly, but there's nothing anyone can do about snow in the mountains or hurricanes by the ocean.
A banner on the homepage can make a big difference in preventing disappointment when shipping times are seen to be longer - or potentially longer - than two days.
One of the best things you can do is to put shipping dates on each product page. When you're trying to prepare customers for a longer-than-usual shipping duration, start as early as possible. Let them know that each product will arrive within a window instead of a quick or instant delivery. This helps customers to choose their products based on when they can expect items to arrive.
The typical place to put shipping information is near the purchase or add-to-cart buttons. This helps buyers see the shipping time and make the decision to buy with a longer arrival window in mind.
Shipping delays are not quite the same as long shipping times. A package could arrive in two days or two weeks, depending on en-route delays. This provides you a range to pass along to the customer. Shipping dates are important for Shopify stores because customers make plans based on arrival dates. They may be returning home and don't want an early arrival. They may be planning for a birthday or camping trip.
By giving your customers an arrival date range, you let them know that you can't pin down shipping any more precisely until the trucks are in motion.
The short end should be the shipping provider's typical quoted time. The long end of the range should allow for several days or a typical delay interval.
Sometimes, a package arrives late and there's nothing you could have done. Extreme weather or excessive delays may push back arrival beyond your furthest window. When this happens, you can't speed up the truck, but you can make sure your customers feel cared for in the process. When the package is late, provide reward through your loyalty program instead.
Loyalty rewards are a great way to provide compensation to your customers without the complication or direct cost of refunds.
When a package is late, what your customers really want to see is shipment tracking. They want to see that their package is still moving between trucks and shipping hubs. They want to watch on a map as the shipment gets closer and to see the little snowflake symbols where shipments are delayed by weather.
Use tracking number information with your shipping partners to collect this data. Then use a shipment tracking module to provide live map representation of the route and last known location of the late shipment. In fact, customers enjoy tracking shipping routes when their orders are on time, as well.
If your Shopify store has multiple shipping centers or warehouse locations, let your customers sort by nearby products. Orders that are shipped from nearer locations will be subject to fewer delays. When shipments don't have to travel overland between cities, they can get to your customers faster and you can provide shorter delivery windows.
Start by categorizing each product by where it's warehoused, then add a sorting parameter. Use the customer's registered shipping address to sort products by those that will get to them fastest.
Another important way to maintain customer experience in the face of shipping delays is shopping cart shipping details. Most people hate being surprised by shipping after they check out - in part because we make plans based on shipping arrivals. If an item could show up two weeks from now, they might choose something more likely to arrive sooner. This is why shipping details on every product page and in the shopping cart matter.
Give customers a chance to choose their shipping speed and carrier from their normal shopping cart without beginning the checkout process. This allows more careful and personal planning and reduces instances of disappointed feelings when the shipping is "revealed" at checkout.
Finally, don't forget to offer Shopify shipping upgrade options. While most customers may be content to wait for a predictable - if slightly delayed - shipping window, some are in a hurry. Offer express mail and faster shipping options in addition to your standard shipping.
You might consider giving loyalty members a higher level of shipping - or allowing them to spend points on faster shipping after earning loyalty points in the store. Everyone should have the option to pay for faster shipping when it matters to them the most.
How can your Shopify store handle shipping delays without risking good customer experience? Try a few of these techniques to provide expectations management and shipping oversight to your customers. When your buyers know what to expect and see that you care, their customer experience will improve even with the occasional delayed delivery. Contact us for more Shopify and eCommerce loyalty program solutions.
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