The beauty of online shopping is that a customer can buy almost anything they want without getting out of bed.
But when couriers are delayed (frequently during high-demand periods), customers are often left out of the loop. As a result, online stores receive a lot of complaints about delivery problems that are completely out of their control.
How to manage delivery expectations when couriers are delayed
Purchasing online doesn’t provide the same instant gratification that comes with going into a store. Therefore, a customer’s service expectations are naturally higher when they pay for something that they don’t get to experience immediately. When couriers are busier than normal, it can be hard to manage your customers’ expectations.
The key? Communication.
- Be upfront
During high-demand periods, be open and honest. It’s better to warn your customers that their orders might be delayed before they head to checkout, than it is to tell them afterwards.
Add a banner to your homepage that warns of possible delays. Include timeframes if you can. Add reminders to product pages and at checkout. Post about it on social media and include it in EDM and promotional communications. Encourage your customers not to leave their shopping to the last minute, so they’re more likely to get their order on time.
- Offer choice at checkouts
If you only offer standard shipping at checkout, your couriers will be swamped with orders that all have the same degree of urgency – even if your customer wants it the next day .
By offering delivery options like standard, express, overnight or Click & Collect, along with different rates for each of them, you encourage your customer to consciously think about when they want their order to be delivered versus when they need it to be – and how much they’re willing to pay for the convenience.
For example, if they need to buy paracetamol online because the chemist isn’t open, they might select a fast delivery option. But if they want to take advantage of an unbeatable deal five months before Christmas, they will be more likely to select standard shipping because it isn’t urgent.
- Send tracking pages
When a customer buys something online, they want certainty that it will arrive. Tracking pages empower customers to track the status of their orders, so they know where they are at every stage of the delivery journey.
But by using the default tracking pages supplied by couriers, you miss an opportunity to promote your own store.
Branded tracking pages enable you to engage with your customer long after they’ve hit the ‘Buy’ button. Use branded emails to give your customers a visual indication of where their order is. Direct customers to specials on your website or your social channels. Provide discount codes for their next purchase. Encourage them to sign up to your email database. You could even add a reminder that couriers are currently experiencing delays so be patient.
- Send notifications & emails
Because of the time it takes between paying for an order and actually receiving it, customers want reassurance about where their orders are. Sending email or SMS notifications at key stages of the delivery journey, like ‘printed’, ‘picked up’ and ‘out for delivery’, is a great way to keep them informed.
If you know that your customers are being impacted by delays, consider sending a ‘we haven’t forgotten you’ email too. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should tell them that you’re aware of delivery delays and that you’re doing your best to keep everyone informed.
- Bend over backwards
While courier delays are out of your control, they could give your company a bad reputation. A late delivery or bad experience may result in losing that customer, so consider offering refunds, store credit, discounts, or free shipping next time around.
Don’t bend over backwards too far though. Delays aren’t your fault and during high-demand times you probably won’t be able to do much about them. If you take a financial hit on every delay, you probably wouldn’t remain profitable for long.
Stay ahead of delivery delays
When delivery is delayed during high-peak times, the best you can do is keep your customers informed. The more you keep them in the loop with open, honest and transparent communication – even if it’s not good news – the more they’ll trust you.
Starshipit’s smart fulfilment automation enables online retailers to add options at checkout and send customers branded tracking pages and notifications at key stages of the delivery journey.
Ready to enhance your customer experience during the delivery process? Sign up for a free 30-day trial with Starshipit and get started today.