One of the main reasons that customers fail to buy online is delivery - be it the cost, the lack of delivery options or a customer's lack of faith in the delivery promise. So if you can improve your delivery strategy and address areas that stop customers from buying, you will increase your online sales. Chloë Thomas, of eCommerce MasterPlan, explains
Your delivery strategy covers everything to do with the delivery of your products - from how you present the delivery information on your ecommerce website and in your marketing, right down to the product that arrives on the doorstep.
It is shaped by what your customers require from you, as well as what it's possible for you to provide - that might be limited by volumes, finances, or manpower. Every business will have a different delivery strategy; Amazon, for instance, focuses on convenience and speed using lockers/pick-up locations and Prime next-day delivery subscriptions.
How your delivery strategy can increase website conversion rates
Delivery is the number one reason people don't buy online - so how can you reduce that on your website?
You need to offer the delivery options your customers want. Do a quick survey to find out whether speed, convenience or cost is the most important for your customers. Then find the couriers who will help you deliver what the customers want.
The delivery space is one of the most exciting in ecommerce right now and the options for the smaller retailer are improving all the time - it's well worth scouting the marketplace at least once a year to make sure you have the best delivery service for your business.
Once you have the right services in place, make sure you are presenting them clearly on your website. You need to get it right in all these places:
- On every page: a header with the headline offering, and then a link to the delivery options. Do not hide the prices.
- Clear information on every product page. Is it in stock? When will it despatch? Relevant postage prices.
- Clearly explain it on the checkout and basket pages too.
Offers on delivery are one of the most powerful promotional tools you have. Any promotion is your opportunity to get the customer to do what you want them to do as cheaply as possible - in other words, with minimal impact on your margins. So use your most powerful tool only when it suits you to do so.
If you are already offering free P&P on everything then use "Free upgrade to [better delivery service]" as the big promotion.
A permanent free P&P offer of some sort can also be very powerful. For example, if your average order value is £50, then give anyone who spends more than £50 free P&P.
How your delivery strategy can increase repeat purchases
In ecommerce we're all looking to turn our buyers into repeat buyers. Your delivery strategy has a key part to play in this.
The first order someone places with you is about testing you out. Customers want to see if they can trust you - so you really must do a good job with the first online order.
That means you must deliver on your promise; the goods must be delivered as promised, in one piece, on time, with all the right things in the parcel.
And that's just the minimum you need to do. If it goes wrong you need to be awesome at dealing with the issue - any issue is a great opportunity to build trust.
If you really want to get the next order, you need to do a bit more. Put a clear call to action into that parcel to ask for the next order, and wow the customer as well.
Great calls to actions to put in a parcel could be:
- a copy of your catalogue (if you have one);
- a leaflet featuring your bestselling products;
- an offer such as free P&P on your next order, or a code for a discount on the next order.
If you can't put anything extra in the parcel, see if you can put a promotional message on the despatch paperwork.
If you want to really wow the customer, you can:
- Brand your packaging; this could be as simple as a sticker or a stamp (some find this helps recruit new customers when their parcels arrive in offices).
- Include a surprise free gift; it need not be big or complicated. A coaster, pen, sticker or bookmark can have a big impact.
- Wrap the products nicely in tissue paper etc, anything you can do to make opening that parcel feel special.
- Add a "packed by" card from the person who actually packed it - creating a human connection always helps.
I'm sure you can think of many more ideas.
Above all, when looking at how to increase your sales, never forget the power of delivery.
Chloë has been working in e-commerce since 2003, learning how to increase orders, up customer retention, and manage customer service well, in businesses from the high street to start ups.