The world of retail is currently in a state of significant change. Throughout the pandemic, consumers around the world have increasingly been moving towards online shopping, resulting in an upward trend in eCommerce.
For retailers, this presents both challenges and opportunities as merchants continue to embrace the world of eCommerce as the pandemic endures. Moving online helps retailers reach a wider customer base globally than they might have had access to with a brick-and-mortar store. It can also help to reduce overheads and costs by eliminating the need for a dedicated shopfront. However, running an online business can also create logistical headaches when it comes to distributing goods.
Putting in the groundwork
Shipping is an essential part of any retail organization, and this becomes even more important when retailers move into the eCommerce space. Delivering goods to the correct location on time and in good condition is essential, so it’s critical that retailers invest in establishing good shipping processes to deliver the best experience for their customers.
Many successful retailers understand that shipping is part of the customer experience and doesn’t signal the end of their engagement with customers. It presents an opportunity to continue developing the relationship with a customer through a positive shipping experience.
The three key features shipping processes need
To achieve the best results from the shipping process, both for merchants and their customers, retailers need to invest in technology solutions that will help streamline their shipping process. However, technology is not the only essential needed to create an efficient shipping process. To improve the shipping experience for customers, and for the bottom line, retailers should consider these three essentials:
- Technologies with automation capabilities
Modern technologies help retailers transform, simplify, and accelerate their shipping process, and arguably no feature has been more effective than automation. The latest automated all-in-one shipping platforms are built on innovative software-as-a-service (SaaS) engines and connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), which essentially lets retailers prepare parcels for shipping from their computer.
Through leveraging automation capabilities, retailers can eliminate time-consuming manual tasks such as weighing, measuring, and tracking. This can free up employees’ time and boost productivity, letting retail organizations better manage budgets and forecast resources.
By also integrating apps and application programming interfaces (APIs), as well as being accessible from anywhere through tablets, desktops, and mobiles, Wi-Fi-enabled automated technologies simplify sending for retailers and can even integrate large eCommerce stores and plugin platforms. Additionally, they are fully scalable with automatic updates built in, which is crucial for any retailer preparing for growth.
Online sellers can also trade on online marketplaces and leverage those fulfilment options in different countries. This can speed up the delivery pace internationally and lets them scale up quicker.
- Hassle-free returns
For the best possible customer experience, retailers must understand that an easy shipping process sometimes needs to go both ways. This means that a return and refund policy, and the steps involved, must be made clear to all customers rather than hidden in the terms and conditions.
Being upfront about return and refund policies, as well as offering easy returns and managing them efficiently, can often set businesses apart from their competitors and can contribute to their success. This means that retailers need to consider returns in their shipping process. This might mean that each delivery that is distributed from the retailer includes information within the package on returns. This can help many retailers to prioritize speed in the returns process, helping them refund consumers’ money as quickly as possible so they can shop again.
- Real-time tracking
One of the biggest lessons learned by retailers and consumers alike throughout the pandemic is the true need for speed in the online shopping experience. The pandemic has created a logistical nuisance for many retailers, including delays in shipping; however, this hasn’t changed consumer expectations around wanting their packages, or at least information about their delivery, as soon as possible.
Savvy retailers understand that tracking information can benefit them. While it might seem simple to outsource tracking information and leave this in the hands of a distribution partner, it can actually be used as an opportunity for retailers to continue engaging with their customers.
The way forward
One of the biggest mistakes retailers can make is treating the shipping process as an afterthought or as a one-size-fits-all process. Successful retailers create a standardized process that also lets them make shipping decisions on a per-package basis. This means retailers should invest in shipping solutions that let them weigh each package individually to accurately calculate the shipping rate. This can lead to cost savings both for the business and consumers.
Additionally, retailers should engage with solutions providers that empower them to consider all carrier options, helping them provide the best delivery option for all customers. This lets retailers select the most appropriate and cost-effective carrier solution to meet their needs and budgets, leading to a more positive shipping and customer experience.
The article has been written by Venkat Rao, Vice President & Country Head, Sending Technology, India & ASEAN, Pitney Bowes