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Michael Krakaris
Co-Founder @ Deliverr
August 7th, 2018

Delivering on Expectations: The Impact of Fulfillment on Customer Retention

Today’s brands need to turn each purchase into a positive, convenient, and memorable experience.

Table Of Contents

You’ve spent countless hours optimizing your product listings and wooing customers. Now, they’ve finally pulled out their credit card and placed an order. But as the order finds its way to them, a whole new phase of your relationship is about to start.

Order fulfillment has a massive impact on customer satisfaction. Shipping, packing, your return policy, and customer service all play a major role in a crucial decision. They determine whether the customer becomes a life-long fan with a high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) or whether they leap straight into the arms of your competition.

Let’s take a closer look at how fulfillment affects customer retention and keeps buyers happy.

1. Meeting expectations with free shipping

Free shipping is vital for both conversion and retention. While it might seem like it will cut into your profits, it actually goes a long way towards increasing sales: The top reason for cart abandonment is expensive shipping.

At least one free shipping option has become standard for top brands and marketplaces. A 2017 study found that 88% of customers are more likely to buy when offered free shipping.

Pro Tips:.

  • Use a free shipping offer in pop-ups or marketing emails for shoppers who’ve abandoned their carts.
  • Continuously track order metrics with and without free shipping to ensure the conversions are worth the cost for your brand.

2. Beating the competition with speedy delivery

Your customer relationship depends on the speed and quality of your shipping service. Just like showing up late for a date drastically lowers your chances for a new relationship, slow shipping can drive your buyers elsewhere.

According to a one study, 80% of customers want a same-day delivery option. Amazon Prime popularized 2-day free shipping, and consumers can’t get enough of it. It’s one of the reasons Prime customers convert 74% of the time while non-prime customers convert just 13% of the time, even though Amazon offers free 5-8 business day shipping on orders over $25.

Buyers are willing to pay a premium for quick delivery, and marketplaces like Walmart give more visibility to listings with fast shipping tags. If free shipping is taking too much of a toll on profits, fast shipping tags are are a great solution.

Pro Tips:

  • Use a reliable third-party logistics company that can guarantee delivery dates.
  • Consider introducing same-day shipping on a promotion basis to determine demand before investing in it as a standard option.

3. Prioritizing convenience in your return policy

Customers will return products, no matter how great they are. It’s just a fact of eCommerce.

Certain categories see higher returns. For example, apparel sales are prone to returns because of challenges like sizing and fit.

However, a harsh return policy will just prevent people from buying rather than slow down the flow of returns — 51% of shoppers will avoid buying from businesses with poor return policies.

Your customers are also more likely to spend more if they can return their order with minimum inconvenience.

To cut down on returns, try giving your customers more product information, including reviews and user-generated photos that help them see a product’s full range of use. Fit apps and questionnaires also help apparel shoppers choose the right size and style, cutting down on returns by as much as 23%.

Pro Tips:

  • Create a policy that makes returns painless.
  • Focus on helping buyers order the right item in the first place. This will increase customer satisfaction while keeping costs down.
  • Use customer feedback and questionnaires to find out the most common reason for returns and to fix it.

4. Nailing the follow-up

Follow-ups are a must. A couple of days after a customer has received their order, send an email to check in and request a review to gauge their satisfaction.  This is also a great opportunity to ask them to snap a pic of the product and tag your brand on Instagram.

Continue building the relationship through a nurture email drip campaign that highlights relevant products, services, and special offers. Now’s a good time to tell them about your loyalty program or invite them to join your exclusive Facebook group.

Pro Tips:

  • Request reviews after purchase to gain insight on customer satisfaction.
  • Connect with your customers on social media.
  • Send a follow-up nurture drip campaign to turn casual buyers into loyal customers.
  • Provide special offers to encourage repeat business.

5. Handling unexpected problems

Shipments get lost. Items get damaged. A customer’s credit card accidentally gets charged twice. It’s frustrating, but also a part of doing business.

How you handle unexpected trouble is crucial and has a lasting impact on your customer relationships. An unfortunate mishap doesn’t have to end a potentially wonderful partnership. Use this as an opportunity to show off your problem-solving skills.

Create internal policies that detail how to deal with slip-ups and share them with everyone on your team. Whether you treat customers to a discount, a personalized gift, free delivery and a handwritten note, or something that’s uniquely on brand for you, you need to have everyone on board.

Pro Tips:

  • Prioritize customer experience above all, especially when things go wrong.
  • Have a list of approved freebies that your team can use as an apology to customers.
  • Keep everyone on your customer service team aligned, and don’t shy away from acknowledging mistakes before fixing them.

Conclusion: Creating an unforgettable experience

Shopping is about more than browsing and hitting the buy button. It’s all about the experience. To thrive when eCommerce competition is constantly growing, brands need to turn each purchase into a positive, convenient, and memorable experience from order to delivery, and beyond.

 

Deliverr provides fast and affordable fulfillment for your eBay, Walmart and Shopify business.

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