As the pandemic drags on, consumer shopping online shows no signs of slowing down, especially for the holidays. Add global staffing shortages and supply chain issues to the mix, and we are left with a recipe for an epic, "Shipadeggon." A talk-show host coined this phrase recently, accurately capturing what businesses, carriers, and shoppers are feeling right now.
This November, Cyber-Monday shoppers in the United States spent a whopping $10.8 billion through online shopping. So with all of the hurdles companies have to jump over to get their products to their customers, what can they do to set expectations and keep consumers happy?
Keep reading to check out a few examples we love!
On a recent online shopping trip to Banana Republic's online store, we selected an item, added it to our cart, and noticed a pop-up. It said, "No Rush 10-15 days/Sweepstakes". We were curious, and since we were shopping for ourselves instead of others (shhh don't tell anyone), we WEREN'T in a rush. If you opted for a December 23rd ship date, you would be entered to win a $500 E-Gift Card. A winner would be selected every hour until the event ended on December 4th! So we happily chose the December 23rd ship date and hoped we might be a winner!
When a retailer can spread out shipping dates, distribution departments can keep up with orders without being overwhelmed. As a result, things go out more quickly and sometimes make it there earlier than expected, like in the Our Place example (below).
Suppose your company can't offer an incentive like $500 Gift Cards every hour for the next five days. In that case, you want to take a closer look at how your team communicates with customers when they are feeling frustrated that the items they want aren't available or nervous that their gifts won't arrive on time. Rule number one, don't ghost your shopper. The worst thing you can do is leave them entirely in the dark about the status of their order. More information is always better, so carefully consider your post-purchase outreach. A great example of practical, constructive, and supportive email communication came when we made a recent purchase from 'Our Place.' The Always Pan has always been on a friend's gift list, so we pulled the trigger, hopped online, and hoped for the best. After the order was placed, we were fully anticipating a delayed ship date or out-of-stock message, instead, we were blown away by their expectation setting email.
Weird to be blown away by an email?
But this message was so carefully crafted that we walked away feeling confident in our purchase, confident in the retailer, and kind of felt like 'Morgan' had become a fast friend. This simple message recognized that there may be delays but that their team was ready to help in any way.
You'll notice the top 5 things that spoke to us in this message:
Personalizing the message to the customer
Explaining the situation without making excuses
Describing how to help the customer with any challenges that may arise in the process
Addressing a common question with an answer saves the support team time, effort, and additional phone calls
Providing an easy and direct way for customers to reach out if needed.
Best part! Our Place delivered ahead of schedule - talk about under-promising and over-delivering!
But what if you don't even have the product to sell? How do you keep the customer happy then? Though it's not ideal, you can take Patagonia's route with one of our recent purchases that ended up out of stock. They recognized the problem, gave an additional discount for a percentage off of the next purchase as well as free 2-day shipping, offered alternative items, and provided a personal touch with the option to have an experienced team member help you find something else you might love.
Lastly, as a retailer, you need to seriously consider your shipping options during this time. We understand that shipping is expensive, but keep in mind that additional expense for shoppers is the No. 1 reason they abandon their carts to shop elsewhere. The numbers in this Forbes article speak for themselves, stating that 84% of shoppers make purchases from certain companies solely because their shipping is free. Additionally, 30% of those shoppers said they would add items to their cart if it means they could qualify for free shipping. Consider this when determining your shipping options. It's also not just shipping options that can make it or break it for shoppers, but communication about shipments as well. Stay on top of delays, backstock, and tracking and make that information easily accessible to your customers. Having that ready for shoppers will save your customer service call center countless interactions from people wondering when their products will arrive.