Buying on the Internet offers almost endless possibilities and shipping options. Whether books, clothes, food – regardless of the time of day, one can buy almost any imaginable product in countless stores. The providers are also becoming more and more imaginative in order to turn the fast online purchase into a powerful experience. The virtual store is to win and on a long-term basis bind both by appearance and user-friendliness as many customers as possible. Basically, it does not matter whether it is a regular customer or a “walk-in customer”. Ultimately, they both have one thing in common: they want to be able to receive their delivery safely and promptly. If delivery becomes a tough, time-consuming odyssey for the customer, this also affects the relationship with the store.

This is also the result of the MetaPack study from 2015. The questioning showed that more than 80 percent of the German customers are encouraged alone by a positive dispatch experience to buy in the future with the same offerer. Fortunately, CEP services have come up with many alternatives to ensure this positive experience and deliver the parcels as successfully as possible. Still very popular: The delivery to the front door. But also individual delivery options are increasingly appreciated. According to the MetaPack survey, packet stations, which can already be specified as optional delivery addresses in many stores, are particularly popular. However, this alternative is increasingly becoming the victim of fraudulent schemes, which have already caused great financial damage to numerous online vendors. With less risk for the Shop operators afflicted and likewise popular is the possibility of letting packages be supplied to the desired location, at a defined day or to a specific neighbor. Especially convenient for employees is the delivery directly to the workplace, which is made possible by a special logistics solution in a legally compliant manner.

Offer a large selection – also in the shipping options

Regardless of which of the delivery options is the most practical in a particular case, it is up to the operators of the online stores to offer them. It is still the rule in many stores that the delivery address must not differ from the billing address. This means that it is not possible for the customer to use the different options and have the package sent to the package station or the workplace, for example. Due to this limitation, however, online stores not willing to offer this service will sooner or later become obsolete. Because a customer, who is usually not at home during the day, will decide – if he or she has the choice – with high probability rather for the offerer, with which an alternative ship-to-address is available to him or her.

But it is not the choice of delivery address alone, which plays a role in the shipping experience. No matter how well the options are tailored to the customer’s individual needs: If the parcel service doesn’t deliver reliably, this optimization is moot. Unfortunately, many stores here prevent the customer from making a decision in advance and always ship with the same service provider. Only one-third of the retailers commission different parcel services – but only a fraction of them give the customer a free hand in choosing and often only at extra cost. Ultimately, however, the providers only have the choice between a handful of parcel services. Quite a few online retailers are dissatisfied with the existing ones and are also looking for better alternatives.

He who searches, finds – or simply founds himself

The problematic last mile, but also the demand for the shortest possible delivery times challenge both delivery services and online stores. A special challenge for the years to come is the same-day delivery. What used to be known as “express delivery”, the premium category of courier services, is set to become a mass product by the major providers. If the strategists at McKinseyare to be believed, 15 percent of packages will be delivered within a few hours in the coming years. Also therefore the operators of online shops keep their eyes open for alternative delivery service providers. And fall back particularly with express deliveries ever more frequently to relatively recently founded providers and start-ups, which correspond from the basic operating principle to a courier service. Or in individual cases they even set up their own delivery service, such as Amazon has been doing.

The retailer can no longer actively influence whether, when and how the shipment finally arrives at the optional address. This is because the purchase is only complete when the customer holds the inventory in his hands. Therefore, in the end, an unsuccessful delivery not only falls back on the delivery service, but also on the online vendor. As the last step in the online purchase process, the delivery of goods is an important part of the overall impression. And the higher the probability of successful delivery, the more satisfied the customer is. By offering different delivery options, online vendors are demonstrating commitment and good will to provide the best possible convenience to their customers.

Little effort – great effect

For store operators, the expense is comparatively low and bears no relation to the positive effect. Since most delivery alternatives are usually only possible with a special customer number, the delivery addresses can be validated without any problems. In addition, a short explanation of the respective option and an easily accessible customer service round off the additional offer. This alone can positively influence the entire shopping experience and create the best conditions for occasional shoppers to become loyal regular customers. Of course, it’s not just shipping alone that builds a loyal relationship with the online store. Nevertheless, the entire shipping process plays an important role and should therefore be part of the overall service offering. If this is well done, the customer thanks it with trust and loyalty.

You can find more information on urban logistics at The last-mile logistics in e-commerce – challenges and solutions.

Image source: Dwight Burdette, License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

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