2023 has just started – time for new beginnings. What do your customers expect from your online shop? And what should your business consider improving when it comes to international deliveries this year? These questions will be answered in this article.
How to meet delivery expectations by the customers in 2023
One of the toughest challenges for online businesses is to meet the customers’ delivery expectations. Whereas shipping costs are still going to play an important role – considering current economic uncertainties and inflation -, speed and convenience of delivery are almost as important to the online shoppers. Additionally, more than half of the shoppers last year claimed they were taking a company’s eco-friendliness into account when making a purchase decision. So, sustainability is another subject to consider for your business strategy in 2023.
Having your shipping revenue in mind, it is not necessary to offer free shipping for every order. Online retailers should rather be transparent about their shipping options. This way, you’re able to gain the shopper’s trust and increase their shopping experience.
Being surprised with additional costs at the checkout is one of the main reasons for cart abandonment. Be honest to your customers right away and show them what to expect from your shipping options: How long is the shipping going to take? And what are the common shipping fees? You should present this information directly on the homepage e.g., with a banner, or as soon as the customer adds a product to the shopping cart.
You might offer free shipping for a certain purchase value, motivating your customers to spend more money on your website.
Speed of delivery
According to the “2022 Loqate Holiday Shopper Insights”, 68% of consumers say the estimated delivery time influenced their decision to make a purchase. Hence, offering a fast and reliable delivery seems to be the key for convincing shoppers to buy in your online store.
But reliability is more important than the actual shipping time. You can build a great relationship to your customers if you make sure that your delivery promises are accurate.
84% of online shoppers have concerns about their order not arriving on time. Avoid these uncertainties by communicating with your customers on a regular basis and immediately inform them in case deliveries take longer than usual.
As you see, communication is always the key. If you inform your carrier partner about the expected order volume in advance, they can prepare by increasing deployment of labor and vehicles. Moreover, delays can be avoided by preparing for higher order volumes and commodity consumption in the holiday seasons.
Nowadays, most online shoppers seem to find delivery tracking very important. As stated before, many consumers are having concerns about their order’s arrival. By offering an option for delivery tracking, companies can convince the customer in his most emotional state, eagerly awaiting the arrival of his order. The small additional effort of choosing a carrier partner who provides a tracking service may contribute greatly to the customer experience.
But delivery tracking is not only pleasing your customers, it is also a very useful tool for improving your company’s shipping process – especially when shipping internationally. You can use the transparency of the process to identify areas which unnecessarily extend the shipping time.
This way, your company has the chance to act at an early stage and immediately inform your customers about delays. In case of loss of an order or theft, you are further able to trace at which point of the shipping process exactly the order went missing.
Besides for improvement of the delivery process itself, implementing a tracking tool can be useful for other business areas of your company, too. For example, you could use the tracking notifications for after sales marketing by adding personalized offers that match the customer’s order to the notification mail. Moreover, offering your customers the option to track their order you can relieve customer service and reduce support requests.
After all, it is rather simple to implement delivery tracking because every parcel has a barcode anyways and can be tracked in real time thanks to GPS. Tracking possibilities are constantly being further improved, so your company should seriously consider to use the handy tool as well.
Over the last few years, consumers became more and more environmentally cautious. Recent surveys show that most consumers care about eco-friendliness when making a purchase decision and they are even willing to pay an extra fee for sustainable shipping. Nevertheless, a poll by Asendia revealed that 58% of the companies surveyed do not offer a green shipping option yet. Therefore, we want to present some ideas on how to make shipping and returns more sustainable.
- Sustainable packaging
The first step to make your delivery more sustainable is eco-friendly packaging. Using reusable packaging would be the most sustainable option. For example, you can use returnable boxes or foldable shipping bags which must be taken back to a post office or letterbox by the customer. For more choice and convenience, you can give the customer the option to keep the packaging for a fee.
But even if you still rely on conventional boxes which don’t have to be returned, there are ways to make packaging more sustainable. Choose certified raw materials for packaging and try to make it custom-fit to save on material.
Moreover, you should use compostable or recyclable filling material, so that your goods are both green and safely packaged. Another step towards sustainability is the use of eco-friendly tape.
- Reduce returns
Especially in the fashion industry returns cannot be completely avoided. But the number of returns can be reduced by offering more information about the products.
First, an accurate and detailed product description as well as high resolution images with correct color representation should provide the information needed by the online shopper to make the right purchase decision. To avoid returns due to unsuitable fitting, there should be size charts and the option for customers to rate the item’s accuracy of fit. In 2023, augmented reality shopping is a rising technology you can use to create a realistic experience of the products offered in your online store.
If you already provide necessary information about your offers as well as comprehensive customer support, you can also avoid returns by improving quality control. Ask your customers to name a reason for their return and continuously implement their feedback. Additionally, you could make your customers aware of the environmental impact of unnecessary returns and suggest other options like reselling to friends.
Make international returns more sustainable by collecting them in a central location before sending them back to the origin country. It is beyond doubt that you should handle returns electronically only and avoid the use of printed return receipts in any case.
- Home delivery vs. pick-up stations
Delivering to the customer’s home or offering to pick it up at a location nearby can both be sustainable options depending on the living situation of the target group.
In big cities where a bunch of stores and pick-up stations are situated not far from the customer’s home addresses, the pick-up option would be much more efficient because it makes logistics easier and results in a shorter shipping time. If the pick-up station is within walking distance of the customer’s home it does not require a lot of effort from the customer and may save CO2 emissions.
In areas where the customer would have to go by car to pick up his order on the other hand, it is more sustainable to offer home delivery. Besides the fact that emissions would not be saved in this case, the additional effort to pick up the order at another location could lead to the customer’s dissatisfaction with the delivery process.
- Cooperation with a sustainable shipping provider
The most important part of a sustainable delivery is probably the delivery process itself. We highly recommend choosing a delivery partner who provides CO2-neutral shipping by offsetting all emissions caused within the shipping process. This is especially important if your online shop offers international deliveries because you have to ship on long distances and might not be able to avoid shipping by air.
What to mind when shipping internationally
Customs and taxes
Your online shop offers international delivery? Then you should know that every country has different barriers to face when selling to foreign customers. The biggest of these barriers are customs and taxes.
If you’re just selling within the European Union, you don’t have to worry about customs. But as soon as you’re a German company delivering to Switzerland for example – be aware of the local regulations.
Did you know that Switzerland is the only country in the world that calculates customs duty according to the weight of the goods? When selling to Swiss customers the duty is expressed in francs per 100kg.
Furthermore, there might be different kinds of taxes e.g., tax on imported products and value added tax. Consult your tax expert for further information about the countries you are selling to. In order to be prepared for your target countries’ regulations it is advisable to work with an international shipping service provider.
One logistics partner for all target markets
If you work with several logistics and delivery partners for different countries, you will probably lose track of your international delivery processes. At least, it is going to need much more effort to manage all the different systems and offer your customers a transparent delivery experience.
Instead, you could work with just one logistics partner who provides international expertise as well as local know-how for all your target markets. One advantage of this solution is the global network you can use to deliver internationally without having concerns about crossing borders. What is more, an international logistics partner will know about taxes and custom regulations for the different countries and will relieve you in this respect.
Besides more flexible solutions and clarity about the international delivery process, you will have less IT expenses by using one system to manage all orders. In addition, by working with only one logistics partner you can save costs because they may be able to offer you special rates for a global network.
About the authors:
Asendia provides a wide range of international ecommerce and delivery solutions for more than 200 destinations worldwide. Being a subsidiary of the French La Poste and Swiss Post, we’re equipped with special knowledge of these markets. Our ecommerce experts support you in all questions regarding fulfillment, shipping, return, tracking and customs. In addition, all our international delivery options are 100 % carbon neutral, including delivery partners, building emissions and parcel returns.
You can meet the authors during the E-commerce Berlin Expo 2023: