The convenience and ease of the Amazon shopping experience is setting new industry standards for e-commerce. From brand recognition to fast and free shipping, consumers’ expectations are changing. According to a recent study by ShipStation, 88% of consumers report that Amazon’s shipping options have increased their expectations of shipping speeds from other online brands. While most businesses do not have Amazon’s endless resources at their disposal, consumers still expect them to deliver first-rate shopping and delivery experiences.
Here are 4 ways you can compete with industry giants without incurring their massive costs:
Shopping on Amazon is easy, regardless of your location, since Amazon has country-specific marketplaces all over the world. You can buy from Amazon via its website, its apps (Amazon, PrimeNow), and by voice with Alexa. When logged into your Amazon account, buying is as simple as two clicks.
Offering visitors a way to create an account can make the buying experience quicker and easier for returning customers. Auto-filling credit card, shipping, and billing information for buyers decreases barriers to purchase and makes customers more likely to buy again.
2. Brand Recognition
Amazon’s brand is universally recognized. As a result, it is one of the most trusted businesses in the world. Consumers associate the Amazon name with consistency, ease, and fast delivery. Brand consistency and recognition are important for obtaining a loyal customer base. There are relatively easy ways you can create a consistent brand experience while also increasing brand awareness:
- Branded Packaging — Thoughtful packaging is important for the credibility and quality of your shipment. The presentation and condition of your products has a significant impact on a customer’s perception of brand credibility and value. Branded packaging is an easy way to boost brand recognition and perceived credibility. Be mindful of the packaging you use—paper and recyclable materials are more convenient for customers to dispose of and better for the environment.
- Branded Tracking — Shipment tracking is one of the most frequently used customer touchpoints in the e-commerce process. A branded tracking page can elevate and promote your brand by offering your customers a tracking experience that identifies in real time where the parcel is in transit. It also provides additional resources like links to your website and social media channels.
3. Fast, Free Shipping
One of the most significant advantages associated with Amazon is its super-fast shipping. Prime customers now get free, 1-day shipping. Shipping costs and speed are two of the most influential factors in a customer’s decision to purchase. The ShipStation study mentioned above showed that 70% of consumers prefer to wait longer for their package if they can avoid paying shipping costs. 68% are more likely to say the cost of shipping is “very important” compared to the speed of shipping.
While customers do expect an increase in shipping speed, they are still ultimately more sensitive to price than speed. However, offering an express shipping option is still important—even at an extra cost. 51% of consumers would pay for next-day shipping. And younger buyers are more likely to pay a premium for speed—65% of millennials are more likely to say they would rather pay and get their delivery faster.
Offering the fast, free shipping options that Amazon provides is out of reach for most businesses. However, there are ways you can cut fulfillment costs and give your customers options to satisfy these shipping expectations.
- Cut Down on Fulfillment Costs — Fulfillment can be an expensive process. Cutting down on some of the costs associated with fulfillment can give you more resources to offer extra shipping options for your customers. A shipping solution like ShipEngine can help you make the fulfillment process more efficient, and in turn save you the time and money associated with labor and shipping resources. ShipEngine makes cost-saving easy with features like comparing rates between carriers to get you the best price at any given moment. Creating a more efficient fulfillment process can help you get packages out faster. The quicker you can get packages out, the better. Expedited shipping is not valuable for customers if the package doesn’t leave the warehouse until days after the order is placed.
- Lower Shipping Rates — Free, two-day shipping is not a reality for most businesses. However, customers still expect a free shipping option even if it’s a longer delivery time. If you can’t offer free shipping, use ShipEngine’s discounted carrier rates to offer shipping rates up to 66% lower than retail rates. Discounted rates can also make expedited shipping options more affordable for more customers.
- Seller Fulfilled Prime — If you’re actively selling on the Amazon marketplace, consider the benefits of becoming a Prime seller. Prime sellers can either sell their products through Amazon’s warehouses (Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA) or they can handle the logistics themselves (Seller Fulfilled Prime, or SFP). SFP is more cost-effective than FBA, but all SFP sellers must meet the 2-day Prime shipping requirements. ShipEngine has a unique integration with Amazon for SFP sellers that makes fulfilling Prime requirements easier and more efficient.
4. Free, Easy Returns
Amazon customers can return their orders easily and at no extra cost. This service adds to the credibility of Amazon’s brand because customers can make their purchases with a sense of security, knowing they can return most products if they aren’t satisfied with them. Offering customers an easy path to return orders is a good way to boost brand credibility and increase cart conversions.
- Clear, Consistent Returns Policy — Make sure your returns policy is stated clearly on your website. Any costs, restrictions, and timelines should be included.
- Fair and Easy Returns — According to another ShipStation study, customers expect an average returns window of 32 days. Make sure you are giving customers enough time to decide if they want their order, to pack it back up, and to send it off as a return. Customers prefer free returns. If free returns are out of range, use discounted rates to keep return rates as low as possible.
- Validate Addresses — Using ShipEngine’s address validation can also help you avoid unnecessary returns by ensuring an accurate delivery address. Implementing this in your ordering process can help you save money on relocation or return costs.
Amazon offers endless resources to give customers the quickest and easiest e-commerce experience available. Solutions like ShipEngine that help businesses manage the shipping and returns process can help smaller businesses meet and even exceed new industry expectations. Improving shipping and fulfillment workflows can help you get packages out at Amazon-like speeds.
Discounted carrier rates can help you compete against the low shipping costs that huge corporations offer. Expectations for merchants will only increase, so make sure to stay up-to-date on any selling and shipping trends. Start solving shipping today with a free trial of ShipEngine.