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Creating inspired experiences
The foundation of adaptation is in the response to a crisis.
With mounting economic pressures raising concerns with consumers, shoppers are planning on spending less over the next year, and brands have to respond if they want to survive.
The new era of successful retailers that rise from this challenge will need to address delivery demands, successfully scale technology, create smart partnerships + apps, and own the cross-channel experience. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not to be done alone.
This is the first part of a multi-blog series unpacking the importance of each of these topics to help ensure your brand is optimized to deliver a stronger customer experience so you can evolve to be part of the next generation. We begin with the final, but crucial step in the customer journey: Delivery—specifically, fast delivery. What is the expectation and demand for same day delivery? Is offering it worth the effort?
5 trends retail brands will need to address to be successful in 2023
In 2005, Amazon changed the online shopping game by announcing Amazon Prime with 2-day shipping, making fast free or low-cost shipping table stakes for online merchants. Many retailers raced to deliver against that expectation—some succeeded and some failed. In the aftermath, even the winners learned an important lesson: Once offered, free shipping becomes the expectation, and the standards only go up from there.
Today’s consumers want items delivered in hours (and in some cases minutes) after they place their order, and it’s not always worth it for brands to attempt to meet the highest expectations for speed. As we’ll discuss, attempting to meet a demand for same day delivery is potentially a minefield of unnecessary promises and over commitment. Here we’ll talk about what delivery possibilities exist for consumers today, best practices for a strong experience, and what you should ask yourself when debating the delivery options you offer to customers—whether it’s fast, free, both, or neither.
The good news is as long as you put the customer first, there are multiple paths to success.
There’s a lot of space between online retailers and their customers and a lot of room for error in that space. Not only do you need to get items to your customers, but you need to do it in a way that leaves them feeling fulfilled and satisfied without eating into your bottom line. These are the current strategies for getting orders into customers’ hands quickly.
Shipping to your customer has been the standard expectation for online shopping until just recently. With more and more distribution centers popping up in every market, delivery times for online sales are falling, with larger companies like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and even many major grocery stores adding options for paid same-day delivery carried out in-house by last-mile delivery services.
The good news is that most online shoppers realize that the free 2-day shipping (or same-day service) Amazon delivers is neither feasible nor necessary for a lot of online retailers, and for many customers, the demand for same day delivery isn’t there. Our research has shown that just over half (54%) of online consumers would be satisfied with getting their online purchases via “standard” shipping within 5 business days, with 60% of people expecting shipping charges under $5.
More and more deliveries need to be done quickly, and not every brand has the ability to create local infrastructure for their own same day delivery service. To help satisfy the growing appetite for convenience for high-need items, a same-day delivery market has popped with apps like Instacart, Doordash, Shipt, Bringg, and Gophr serving a range of industries. These options provide brands the convenience of offering quick delivery without a capital investment, but as we’ll discuss, the trade-off comes at the cost of the control a brand has over the customer experience when many things can potentially go wrong to sour the experience.
Perhaps the easiest same-day delivery method to implement is the one where customers themselves come and pick up the order waiting for them. BOPIS is a hybrid solution of sorts that allows the customer to cut down on time spent shopping on site or—for those concerned about COVID exposure—time spent around other shoppers. In this instance, customers complete the entirety of their order online, and come by a physical location to pick it up.
In response to the pandemic, many retailers with brick and mortar locations implemented procedures and specified locations for curbside pickup where their purchases were brought out of the store to customers’ cars upon arrival. Much of the physical parking space that was set aside has been converted into BOPIS-specific priority parking areas as the press of COVID waned, but some grocers and retailers, like Target, have kept their delivered curbside option around.
Our most recent market research has told us that customers’ #1 motivator when deciding where to shop is quality, followed by a desire for promotions or deals. Taken together, these two elements define the value perception of your customers. The companies that are going to survive are the ones that, through pricing strategies and high-quality customer experiences, know how they stack up and optimize value perception for their customers. There are a few best practices to consider when trying to optimize value, delivery, and the wider customer experience:
As a market leader in CX programs, we’ve helped a lot of brands navigate customer satisfaction in challenging times, so we’ve got some valuable insights from the third-party delivery wave that crested in the restaurant industry during the pandemic. Take these lessons to heart as you consider a quick delivery strategy with third-party vendors.
Delivery is typically the last high-impact interaction your customers will have with you until they decide to order again, so it’s crucial to treat your delivery expectations as a promise to your customer that you must keep. Whether you’re trying to meet a demand for same-day delivery or are just exploring faster options, these 4 questions will help evaluate your brand’s delivery promise.
Optimizing your online shopping experience is all about understanding what customers want and delivering on expectations to provide a level of value that brings them back. Meeting the demand for same-day delivery is just one of many tools you have available to drive value perceptions and loyalty. Much of the delivery experience can be within your control, provided you are proactive and excel in “your lane.”
A solid customer experience management program will help navigate this wave of disruption to evolve and be among the survivors in the next generation. You may not be able to beat Amazon or other major retailers at their own game, but you can still provide a satisfying customer experience for delivery that drives value and loyalty. You just have to make the right promises—and keep them.
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