Deliveries are the “beating heart” of ecommerce. Here’s how mid-size retailers can keep at peak fitness

By Jeroen Terheggen, VP for Mid-Market, nShift.

What happens after the customer clicks “buy” often determines whether they will buy again or go elsewhere.  The manner, speed, and experience around deliveries is a key “moment of truth” for the customer relationship.

But many mid-size retailers (those shipping between 10,000 and 1 million parcels each year) struggle to get the delivery experience right.

Research has found that half (53%) of consumers abandon shopping baskets due to long shipping times.[1] Meanwhile, 85% say that a bad delivery experience would discourage them from buying from the same retailer again.[2]

Deliveries are the beating heart of ecommerce.  Get them right, and the whole business thrives.  But any hiccups or glitches are soon felt more widely.

Solving these problems requires a dual focus on the core delivery management processes that get parcels from warehouses to doorsteps, and on the customer experience in this “post-purchase” phase.  At nShift, we call it delivery & experience management (DMXM).

1.  Scalability

Compared with smaller businesses, mid-market retailers typically have more resources, and are better placed to scale – whether in their home markets, or abroad. 

A strong global delivery footprint isn’t purely a question of logistics though.  Offering customers the right range of delivery options at checkout can increase conversions by 20%.[3]  They value being able to choose what works best for them.

For retailers, that means making use of several carriers, rather than just one or two.   But as each carrier functions differently, building connections to each one can be time-consuming indeed.

Managed carrier libraries completely automate this process.  If a retailer wishes to support a particular carrier or mode of delivery, or ship to a new country, they can simply select it from the library, and add it to their checkout.  No custom integration is needed.

It is a simple task then for retailers to extend their offer into new areas – for example offering zero-emissions delivery vehicles, or PUDO (pick-up and drop-off points).

This also makes sophisticated A/B testing, to see which combinations of delivery choices drive the most conversions, a real possibility.

2.  Long-term flexibility

Mid-size retailers are on a steep growth trajectory. They seek flexible delivery management solutions that can adapt to their needs as they grow – whether through expansion overseas, implementing multichannel retail strategies, or setting up adjacent businesses.

Few mid-market businesses can afford the cost and disruption of upgrading or adapting systems as they go.  Instead, they want flexibility: a core DMXM platform, which is easy to customize, integrate, and plan around.

3.  The power of delivery innovation

The onward march of customer expectations drives retail innovation.  What may seem cutting-edge today could be yesterday’s news in a matter of months. One example is using social messaging apps, rather than emails or text messages, to communicate with customers about their deliveries.

In-house tech teams may just be able to keep homegrown delivery management systems up and running but managing full-blown delivery research and development (R&D) will be a different story. 

Given the importance of deliveries to overall customer satisfaction and loyalty, it makes sense to tap into the expertise of established vendors.

4.  Cost-effectiveness

Every piece of technology retailers invest in needs to deliver a measurable return.  Some will aid productivity, enabling employees to get more done in the same amount of time.  Others help build customer loyalty, leading to greater repeat sales and higher revenues.

DMXM can deliver returns on both fronts: measurable improvements in warehouse productivity, alongside increases in customer conversions and repeat sales. 

5.  Support and uptime

It is often at times of maximum stress that technology proves its worth. It follows that checkouts, delivery tracking, customer communications, and returns not only need to be always-on, but also always-brilliant.

Delivering on that promise can be a challenge.  It depends on the business receiving the right amount of support and service, tailored to their specific needs.  Mid-market retailers should ensure they have strong service level agreements for delivery management, which make ownerships and responsibilities clear.

6.  Integration capabilities

Delivery management software sits at the heart of a complex retail technology ecosystem, including ERP, WMS, payment systems, and much more.

That makes deliveries extremely sensitive to upgrades, system changes, or alterations to API specifications – any of which could lead to glitches and delays in dispatching parcels to customers.

Best-of-breed DMXM platforms are designed to integrate with a very wide range of technologies.  Indeed, nShift supports over 450 different integrations.  That makes it far easier build a joined-up ecommerce ecosystem, from the web shop homepage to the customer’s doorstep. 

Delivering ecommerce success

A joined-up delivery experience drives ecommerce success.  Getting it right can improve customer choice, convert more returns into exchanges, build customer loyalty, and encourage repeat purchase.  Rather than treating deliveries as an overhead to be minimized, growing retailers should view the customer experience around deliveries as a key part of their growth engine.

Find out more about driving growth with delivery & experience management from nShift. 





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