As the year comes to an end, stores are dealing with uncertainties in what customers want to buy. Because of the ups and downs caused by the pandemic and worries about inflation and high-interest rates, businesses are having a tough time this holiday season. A study by ShipEngine found that 40% of shoppers are thinking about economic factors as they plan their holiday spending.
To tackle these challenges, people are being more careful with their money. About 74% of them plan to spend less on the holidays and put off buying things they don’t need. This careful spending shows how important it is for businesses to grab the attention and loyalty of customers in a more competitive market.
To get through this time when customers are being cautious with their money, businesses can focus on making customers happy with their orders. In this blog post, we’ll talk about how customers feel about getting their orders, deliveries, and returns and how businesses can use these points to keep customers loyal during the holidays and beyond.
Delivery Flexibility: A Cornerstone of Customer Experience
Even with budget constraints, the pillars of a great customer experience remain rooted in delivery speed, choice, and convenience. Consumers value having multiple delivery options, especially during the peak shopping season, when purchases are often high-stakes and time-sensitive.
Cost Matters Less During Peak Season
ShipEngine’s research indicates a shift in consumer priorities during the peak season, with delivery cost taking a backseat. While 32% of consumers prioritize delivery costs during non-peak periods, this number drops to 23% during the holidays. Delivery speed and convenience become paramount during the peak season, aligning with the higher stakes and tighter timelines of holiday purchases.
Location Choice and Security
Offering diverse delivery choices, including secure pick-up locations and in-store collection, addresses both the busy schedules of consumers and the heightened risk of porch piracy during the holiday season. Providing alternatives not only ensures customer convenience but also enhances package security.
Implementation Through Integrations
Merchants struggling to optimize their delivery strategy can leverage integrations to streamline operations. Automating shipping processes allows for a seamless delivery experience, offering real-time tracking and updates to customers. Transparency and interactivity empower customers with control and visibility over their orders, fostering trust in the brand.
Returns Logistics as a Service Differentiator
As ecommerce continues to gain market share, returns logistics emerge as a critical service differentiator. Return rates spike during the holiday season, with NRF estimating that one in every five products bought online in the U.S. is returned during this period.
Shifting the Approach to Returns
Forward-thinking retailers recognize the importance of refining returns experiences. While 15% of ShipEngine survey respondents deem the return experience critical, only 8% of surveyed merchants prioritize providing flexible return policies. Offering free returns, streamlining online return procedures, and providing multiple return options contribute to a positive return experience.
Extending Returns Timelines
During the peak season, businesses can elevate their returns experiences by extending returns timelines. This not only eases the holiday stress for customers but also aids in managing inventory effectively.
Automation Enhances Convenience
Automating returns workflows, from initiating the return process online to tracking the return shipment, adds convenience and transparency to the customer experience. Automated return portals and exchanges allow customers to customize their return reasons, providing valuable insights for merchants to enhance their offerings.
Creating Lasting Relationships through Fulfillment Excellence
In a dynamic retail ecosystem, the key to success lies not only in attracting consumers but in creating lasting relationships through superior service and fulfillment. As consumer behavior continues to shift, especially in the face of economic uncertainties, merchants must focus on delivering excellence at every touchpoint.
From flexible delivery options to a seamless returns process, each element of fulfillment plays a pivotal role in building trust and loyalty. By embracing these elements of the customer experience, brands have the opportunity not only to meet but exceed expectations during the critical peak season. As we adapt to evolving consumer needs, the path to success is paved with a commitment to delivering exceptional service from the moment a customer clicks “purchase” to the email that joyfully declares, “your order has been delivered.”