Doorstep delivery is the final touchpoint in an online sale, and the quality of the delivery experience can have a disproportionate impact on a customer’s perception of your brand. The starting point is getting your package to the right doorstep at the right time, but there are some simple things that you and your carrier can do to improve your game and provide a delivery experience that boosts your brand and stands out from your competition.
9 Ways E-Commerce Companies Can Provide a Better Doorstep Delivery Experience
1. Shipping costs
One recent survey found that e-commerce cart abandonment rates are now about 70%. The most common reason for abandonment is shipping costs. There’s often a gap between buyer expectations and seller reality. Standard ground shipping (4-7 days) does not match consumer expectations for speed while the costs normally associated with 2nd day or next day residential delivery are out of sync with consumer expectations of free or low-cost shipping. One option to bridge the gap is to seek out alternative regional carriers who can provide 2-day or next-day delivery at or near ground rates in urban areas.
What is the customer’s first impression when they see your package on their doorstep? Was it sturdy enough to withstand the inevitable bumps and bounces of handling, sorting, transporting, and delivery or does it look banged and dented? Is it attractive or bland and unappealing? Is there messaging on the box that reinforces your company’s identity and values? New research indicates your packaging choices can impact your customer’s perception of your product. Your packaging is not just a box (or bag), it’s an opportunity to make a statement about your brand and a good first impression on the doorstep.
3. Special instructions
Executing on special instructions like “Leave the package on the side porch out of the sun” can be critical to meeting customer expectations. As a seller, you need to capture that information at the point of sale, and your carrier should be able to receive and execute those instructions. You can check with your carrier on their capabilities. Supporting special delivery instructions allows for more personalized service. You can earn bonus points with your customer if your carrier is flexible enough to support adding special instructions or even changing delivery locations while the package is in transit.
Most carriers provide some form of tracking, either through links or tracking apps. A few can show customers the exact location of their package when it’s out for delivery. Some carriers even charge your customers for this service. But customers shouldn’t need to download a carrier app or pay for a delivery subscription to get that level of visibility. It should come standard. Even better is if your carrier can give you the ability to create your own branded tracking page so that you can communicate status directly with your customer. Again, check your carrier’s capabilities in this area.
5. Custom messaging
The best way to communicate with today’s customers is through SMS. Consumers are conditioned to look at text alerts and messages are typically seen within 3 minutes. At a minimum, your carrier should provide SMS messaging capabilities for events such as “package shipped” or “package delivered.” But the real power in messaging comes when your carrier’s technology is advanced enough to allow you to compose your own branded and personalized customer messages rather than using the carrier’s stock messages.
6. Direct communications
SMS messaging becomes even more powerful when drivers can communicate directly with you or your customer to resolve delivery issues. This is beyond the tech capabilities of many carriers, but think about the benefits of a driver being able to connect in real-time with a customer to resolve issues like a wrong gate code or an unmapped address. A simple SMS message to your customer could be the difference between a successful delivery and an undeliverable return—if your carrier can support it.
7. Delivery window
Telling someone their package is out for delivery and will arrive between 9am and 9pm is not very helpful. Modern routing technology should be able to provide a much more precise delivery window, especially once the package is out for delivery. Look for a carrier who can consistently provide a 2–4 hour window. A smaller delivery window inspires confidence and provides consumers more flexibility to plan their day around an important delivery.
8. Photographic proof of delivery
It should go without saying that your last-mile carrier should provide notification that the package was delivered. But just sending an email or text notification is not enough. An SMS message including a photo of the package showing exactly where it was dropped gives your customer added assurance the package was delivered and shows exactly where they can find it (if it was dropped somewhere other than the front porch). Photographic proof of delivery is the gold standard for last-mile carriers—ask your carrier to provide it.
In a recent survey, more than half of consumers say they would support and shop with brands who commit to carbon-reducing delivery options and 75% consider sustainability an important factor in their purchasing decisions. Carriers are scrambling to kick off electrification and infrastructure initiatives, but the payoff for many of these efforts is years or even decades away. Sellers should be seeking out last-mile carriers that can explain what they are doing operationally to make deliveries more sustainable today, not the infrastructure they will have in place 10–15 years in the future.
How Can You Provide a Better Doorstep Delivery Experience?
All delivery carriers can get your package to your customer—if they didn’t consistently do this, they wouldn’t stay in business. But there is a difference between just getting it there and getting it there in a way that differentiates you from competitors and boosts your customer’s perception of your brand. Find out how AxleHire can help your brand provide a better doorstep delivery experience.