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Ecommerce delivery tips – tell buyers when they’ll get their order

We've been posting a series of ecommerce tips over the last few weeks, and this time around, building on our recent free shipping article, we're looking at one of the most important delivery tips you need to know – telling your customer when they'll receive their order.

While some customers are happy to wait or just receive an expected delivery date, that just won't cut it for buyers who’ve placed a time sensitive order or need to ensure someone’s in to accept the order. However, the problem for many online retailers is that their estimated delivery date doesn't account for their own order processing time, which can mean deliveries are held up and customers are let down. So the first thing you need to do is develop a solid order fulfilment process...

Improving order processing

Essentially, you need to know exactly how long it takes from receiving an order to sending it out – then also add on the courier service’s timescales for delivery. Look at ways of improving the management of this process, so you can offer an accurate delivery date based on internal fulfilment flow.

One way to keep the process moving is to generate automated notifications from point of order/payment that get sent direct to your packing staff – this should be easy enough to build into your system if it's not already integrated. These notifications should also include a priority service, so packers know which orders are subject to next day delivery or any other specified shipping terms, and can prioritise accordingly.

Of course software, in the right hands, can be updated to improve the entire despatch system – it’s entirely possible to configure a system that tells staff what to despatch, bumping up next day deliveries to the top of the list. It’s even better if a system is smart enough to tell you what to do rather than relying on notifications alone – let the system manage the process, and you take away the potential for human error or a missed notification!

Also make sure your stock cupboard is always equipped with packing supplies. Running out of boxes, tape and other materials could see you unable to meet the delivery date promised – which in turn could well cost you any future orders from that customer.

Why are accurate delivery details so essential?

A recent survey of 3,000+ online buyers by UPS and comScore revealed that 42% of consumers stated that receiving orders when expected would lead them to recommend a retailer. This is one compelling reason to provide an accurate delivery date and ensure you meet it. Here are a few more:

  • Customer loyalty
  • Reduced admin from fielding complaints
  • Reduced costs from refunding higher shipping charges when the terms were not met
  • Positive buyer reviews
  • Increased reputation for reliability

Tips for communicating delivery dates

We've already looked at processing orders effectively in order to meet promised delivery timescales, but communication is important too.

Here are a few more ecommerce delivery tips to help you:

  • Show shipping options as early as possible – this reduces the chance of shoppers abandoning their basket part way through the buying process.
  • Offer several options – some buyers are prepared to wait, others have more pressing needs. Offering a guaranteed delivery for next day or within 48 hours will help you to capture buyers who need the item(s) for a specific purpose or event.
  • Be clear about costs – make it easy for shoppers to see what the associated costs are for different delivery terms.
  • Double up your notifications – your automated delivery email can easily be supported by carrier notifications, so that customers are kept in the loop regarding shipping. Royal Mail and many other couriers offer this service.

By offering a speedier delivery option plus clearly communicating with your buyers, you can expand your appeal and increase orders – especially if your competitors are doing the same thing! The key thing is to be realistic and ensure you’ve done all your ‘homework’ so that delivery dates are accurate and your service is reliable.