Customer loyalty is the result of a company consistently meeting and exceeding customer expectations – in every aspect of your business, including shipping. Without new, returning and happy customers continuing to buy from you, your business can’t thrive, and possibly may not survive. So, customer retention and loyalty should be one of the top priorities for every small business. One often overlooked aspect of customer loyalty is the shipping process. A good shipping experience will usually lead to repeat and returning customers who will praise your small business and the products or services you offer. Understanding the relationship between shipping and customer loyalty will help you with retaining long-term customers. Here are 3 ways shipping can impact customer loyalty.
3. Meeting Expectations
In order to meet expectations, it’s important to keep in mind and stay on top of changing consumer behaviors. The rise of online shopping and eCommerce is expected to be the main way customers do business, and that in turn directly impacts the expectations customers have for the businesses they are buying from. This is especially true for shipping expectations. Delivery and transit times have always been some of the main things customers care about most with their online orders, and with tighter market conditions and capacity strains, these delivery and transit times are often subject to change.
The ability for a business and their supply chain to meet the expectations of their customers in terms of delivery times is a crucial part that can directly impact customer loyalty. Cost expectations is also a driving factor in customer retention. Keeping shipping costs low means you keep product costs low. Want to hear the numbers on just how important shipping expectations are to customers?
- 7 out of 10 shoppers say they consider shipping speed and cost more today than they did just one year ago.
- 84% of customers will not return to a retailer after one poor delivery experience.
- 1% of shoppers say that delivery impacts their brand loyalty.
As you can see, meeting the expectations of your customers through your shipping strategy is a key part of achieving customer loyalty. But how can you meet these expectations? When developing your shipping strategy, remember to figure out what times of year are busiest for both your business and the shipping industry. For many retailers, some of the busiest times for them are also the busiest for shipping, such as the holiday season. Plan ahead for these times when capacity is tight, and your customers’ needs are high.
Did you know that 72% of today’s shoppers say return policies directly influence their online purchasing decisions. Needless to say, a smooth, transparent return process impacts customer loyalty. Return shipments fall under a category of supply chain logistics known as reverse logistics, which is products or raw materials going back from the end consumer to the initial shipper. Some examples of reverse logistics include:
- Redirecting cargo back to the manufacturer or separate facility rather than the selling business.
- Providing shipping labels or arranging the pickup of returning cargo.
- Having the capacity to repair and resell damaged products.
While reverse logistics is easily seen as a way to salvage value from bad inventory, reverse logistics is actually meant to increase customer satisfaction. In the event a shipment goes wrong, there is a smooth, easy return policy customers can follow to make a bad experience a good one. Optoro found in a study that 97% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers after a positive return experience. So, having an efficient reverse logistics strategy as an integral part of your overall shipping strategy helps you maintain customer loyalty even when things go wrong.
When shoppers buy online, the only surprise that’s a good surprise is that their shipment arrived earlier than anticipated. Any other surprise risks losing them as a loyal customer. Your shipping strategy should account for delivering stability and peace of mind to your customers. How can you make things more predictable for your customers?
The ability to track a shipment or even reach out to the customer in the event something happened during transit enhances the customer experience. While many of these types of practices are seen as a “customer service” category, your shipping strategy works hand-in-hand to operate as a sort of engine running your business. Everything starts and stems from your shipping process, especially in the eyes of your customers.
Working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can give you access to innovative transportation management system technology that can help you track your shipment and keep your customers aware of any hiccups during transit.
Nobody wants to feel left in the dark only to find out their shipment was delayed. Should an issue arise during the shipping process, alert your customers of the issue and how you are working to resolve it. Clear communication goes a long way with customers and could make an otherwise bad shipping experience a little better.
We Can Help
FreightCenter specializes in providing customer-centric freight shipping solutions that help you maintain and increase customer loyalty for your small business. We have a vast network of vetted carriers, discounted rates, and the TMS technology to provide a smooth shipping experience.