Four Ways Delivery and Experience Management Can Reshape Retail Strategies to Unlock Revenue

Germany boasts the world’s fifth largest ecommerce market.  By 2027, sales are set to hit €138 million

The pace of growth represents a huge opportunity for brands, vendors, and retailers. At least 80 percent of Germans are now buying products online and last year, German online sales amounted to 79.7 billion euros.  But in a world of increasing competition, ensuring ecommerce success means providing the best possible customer experience. 

Some 38% of German customers will abandon their shopping basket if they can’t find the right delivery option. Indeed, nearly two-thirds (63%) of shoppers expect to be able to specify a date and time of delivery.  And a similar proportion (62%) would refuse to shop with a brand again after a bad delivery experience. 

If the data tells us anything, it’s that getting the delivery experience right is absolutely mission-critical for ecommerce companies.

Deliveries are far more than logistics 

Many retailers treat deliveries as a logistical question of shipping things from A to B. But that overlooks how important they are to customers.  For them, deliveries represent fulfilled promises. And that presents opportunities for retailers. 

Deliveries hold the keys to helping retailers stand out from the crowd, keeping customers happy and unlocking efficiencies.  They matter more than loyalty perks or “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) schemes. If the delivery and returns experience doesn’t live up to a consumer’s high standards, they will shop around for a better one. 

Getting deliveries right requires a joined-up experience from checkout to doorstep. It requires retailers to provide the right range of delivery options.  It’s essential that vendors communicate with customers at each stage of the delivery journey.  Retailers must keep their promise by delivering on time. And if a customer wants to send something back, it’s vital that they understand how they can and on what terms.   

When a retailer is shackled to the restrictions of a single carrier or transport provider, creating the best delivery experience is fraught with frustration. In many cases, it simply won’t be possible. 

The beating heart of multichannel and ecommerce retail

Retailers need to turn shipping and deliveries into experiences which surprise and delight shoppers. This needs to be done while reducing costs and unlocking efficiencies across warehouses and delivery teams – what we call delivery and experience management (DMXM)

Effective DMXM is the beating heart of multichannel and ecommerce retail: stay in shape, and retailers can dispatch more parcels more productively, and delight customers every time. However, businesses can quickly feel the impact of any glitches in the system.   

Which is why retailers need to focus on peak performance in post-purchase – the phase after customers hit the ‘buy’ button.  What happens during this period often determines whether the customer will come back for more. Retailers need to meet consumer expectations at every stage: from increasing efficiency and flexibility, to offering a greater choice of delivery and returns options. 

Delivering best-in-class DMXM

In the ever-shifting and constantly evolving world of ecommerce, meeting consumer expectations can be easier said than done.  But, with DMXM, retailers can:

  • Grow beyond limits – Most retailers pride themselves on giving customers a personalized service.  So, it is striking that so many follow a “one size fits all” approach to deliveries. This often reflects a dependence on book and print tools that are too complex, unreliable, or limited in the carrier connections they offer.   

A third of logistics workers spend more than 50% of their time doing tasks like order management, paperwork preparation, and carrier booking – by hand. And, in Germany, this means a lot of wasted hours.  The warehousing and support activities sector is the largest within Germany’s transport industry. In 2020, roughly 680,600 people were employed within the sector.

The right kind of book and print capability boasts all the carrier connections a retailer could ever need, right out of the box.  As the Hemimex customer story shows, that can enable retailers to deliver on promises and overcome growth constraints of geography, pace, and rising costs. It also simplifies key logistics processes, like benchmarking carrier performance, making greater use of zero-emissions carriers, and managing international logistics.  And, it goes without saying, that book and print capabilities should also enable warehouses to support ever-greater volumes of orders.

Doing so enables greater flexibility, more resilience, and a better customer experience.

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Customer story: Helping Hemimex cut time spent on deliveries by 75%

Hemimex trades in products such as bronze and copper, always providing customized products based on customers’ needs.  While this customization offers a great point of differentiation for Hemimex, it also presented a significant challenge because packages vary enormously in length, thickness and in weight. Selecting the right carrier each time and putting these special packages on transport properly was proving to be a very time-consuming task.  However, by using nShift, all carrier communication is now uniform saving three hours (out of four) in delivery management time every day.

The lack of delivery options is one of the biggest reasons that people click away from their baskets.  And offering a range of delivery options can increase conversions by 20%. The right range of options is likely to include; pick-up, drop-off (PUDO), express delivery, click and collect and lower-emissions and lower-cost alternatives. These delivery options must be supported with a high-quality tracking experience to provide customers with the information they want when they want it.

There are huge benefits to regularly communicating with customers during the delivery process.  We know from our own data that it can cut WISMO (“where is my order”?) calls by 60%. But leaving these communications to the carrier company is a missed opportunity. By taking control of delivery updates, retailers can brand the messages in their own look and feel.  

Shoppers are far more likely to open communications about an expected delivery than they are other messages from retailers, and that gives omnichannel retailers the opportunity to suggest other things that customers might like to buy. Logistics teams can make this enhanced customer experience possible by introducing the right order-tracking software. Order tracking based on regular scanning of the delivery labels can create updates about the whole of the delivery process. 

  • Enable data-tight ecommerce – Running a digital delivery process creates a wealth of data that is easy to analyze.  Effective DMXM combines this data – from carriers, logistics, and other business systems – to help retailers sharpen customer insights, break down internal silos, and drive operational efficiency. 

Ecommerce companies should use this to improve marketing and operations. For example, looking at trends in sent-back items could help teams identify and rectify common problems, reducing returns over the medium term.  

Maintaining a competitive edge in ecommerce or multichannel retail requires an ever-deeper understanding of customers, their preferences, and their habits. By viewing their purchases as the start, rather than the end of the relationship, retailers can build loyalty with their customers, gain crucial insight about their business, and grow revenue over the long term.

Critical to realizing success is ensuring that all systems speak to each other and in real-time. Ideally, retailers need a solution that can integrate with existing payment systems and can capture and analyze data from the minute the customer checks out and beyond.

  • Out-perform competitors – In ecommerce, the next challenge is always around the corner, whether by engaging with customers in new ways or increasing the throughput of deliveries and fulfilment teams.  As the Papyrus Supplies example demonstrates, in many warehouse and logistics operations, there will be opportunities for improvement that can cut costs, improve efficiency and improve the customer experience for retailers prepared to look at new ways of working.

The brands and retailers that thrive take advantage of new channels to reach customers, provide the information and level of control customers expect, and adapt to meet their needs. With the right software in place, backed by vendors that are here for the long term, retailers can be reassured they will be one step ahead – now, and in future. 

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Customer story: Papyrus Supplies gets better quality for less

Papyrus, a leading European paper merchant, sends close to 500,000 parcels a year. It needed a delivery management system that would give it greater control, simplicity and cost-effectiveness. It also wanted a solution that could integrate with its existing systems and that would be easy to scale. By using nShift, Papyrus can track shipments, mistakes and overbilling more easily than before and is more flexible to new carriers. All of which increases quality, usability and the structure when working with shipments.

Building closer customer connections with outstanding delivery experiences

Brand loyalty in retail and ecommerce is harder than ever to maintain. Retailers struggle with one-time purchasers, serial purchase-and-return consumers, and rising marketing and logistics costs. More efficient and higher quality deliveries are the solution to these challenges. Too many retailers treat them as a purely logistical issue, and so are missing out on building stronger customer relations.

Retailers need to see deliveries as more than parcels and boxes. Instead, they’re about building closer customer connections with outstanding delivery experiences. Customers will shop with retailers which meet their expectations time and again. Businesses can use deliveries to differentiate and grow.

Author: Gary Carlile, EVP Customer Growth, nShift 

About nShift

nShift’s delivery & experience management platform drives ecommerce success. Grow beyond limits with constant innovation and the world’s largest carrier network. Build customer loyalty with end-to-end tools that enhance experience. Unify data into usable insight that connects and optimizes processes. With nShift, make delivery the essential link between your brand and your customers.