Selling products online helps slash overheads, but you’ve lost control of one important task: placing those products safely into the hands of satisfied customers.
Retail space isn’t cheap and you’re not just paying for floor space. You’re also paying the bills to keep the lights on, as well as the wages to keep staff behind the counter. It’s becoming easier to offer a great online retail experience, reducing these kinds of business overheads, but don’t underestimate the importance of that physical retail counter – the place where someone you trust hands over the goods.
Selling online means outsourcing that important job. The task of covering the “last mile” to reach your customers is now handled by the postie or a courier. Your business reputation is in their hands, even though their idea of great customer service might be very different from your own.
When weighing up your e-commerce delivery options, don’t shop on price alone. It’s not an area where you want to cut too many corners, especially when you take into account the true cost of a poor delivery service.
Are you losing customers and generating bad word of mouth thanks to lost, damaged or late deliveries? How much are you spending on replacing lost or damaged items and resending them? What kinds of in-house resources do you need to dedicate to dealing with unhappy customers and difficult delivery partners?
Considering all this, is your cheap delivery service really saving you money?
Australia Post and other delivery companies offer a range of service levels targeted at businesses of different sizes, so it’s worth doing your research to see what kind of deal they can do to support your e-commerce efforts. Shop around, but make sure you read the fine print in terms of Service Level Agreements.
If customer dissatisfaction is hurting your business, consider whether paying extra for delivery tracking is a worthwhile investment. As well as reducing the likelihood of lost items, delivery tracking also gives customers the ability to check on the status of their order. Reassurance that their parcel is still on the way might be enough to reduce calls to your customer service line and complaints on social media.
Packaging is another area where it’s tempting to cut corners when you’re running a lean, mean e-commerce operation – but is cheap packaging costing you dearly in terms of damaged goods and lost customers?
Keep in mind that great packaging isn’t just about ensuring your product arrives intact, it’s also an opportunity to enhance the customer experience. A memorable “unboxing” experience, rather than fishing through a sea of packing foam, can keep customers coming back for more.
If you’re running an online store, don’t treat the last mile as an afterthought. All your hard work might be for naught if you trip at the finish line.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.