How to use shipping to improve your omnichannel game
Recently I attended the second edition of the Tudo Sobre eCommerce Conference in Porto, north of Portugal. And even though the annual conference started only last year it has already become one of the most important eCommerce events in the country, gathering people from different areas within the market around local and international speakers.
During the whole day of talks and round tables, it was clear that one word stood out as the most popular one: omnichannel. From startups to big retailers, from marketplaces to payment methods, from media to massive internet companies, all speakers brought up the importance of an omnichannel approach at some point. But, let’s be honest: business that started off as physical and migrated to online are probably a little more ahead on the omnichannel game, as they already have one of the most expensive investments of all: the brick and mortar space. Of course they still need to figure out how to implement the bridge between online and offline without getting in the way of their current operation but, for many, this is still far less scary then being on the other side of the spectrum and having to figure out how to make your online business physical without actually having a physical venue. But that is when it gets interesting.
When we talk about omnichannel our minds tend to go to the physical store x online store situation. But omnichannel is way more than purely a selling channel and this is what eCommerce businesses must remember in order to make the most out of it.
The real meeting of omnichannel
Unlike many people think, omnichannel is not really about having both online and offline sales channels. That is actually multi-channel. Omni comes from the latin word “omne”, which can be translated as “all”. But, in this case, is not just about quantity and diversification of channels, but also about the integration of those channels. And, again, when we say channels, we mean “touchpoints” and not only sales channels. That means that a truly well put together omnichannel approach is not about selling in different channels but making the customer experience as a whole a seamless one, throughout the whole journey. And that’s where logistics and delivery come into play.
How to use logistics to improve your omnichannel game
Let’s start this session clearing something first: as said above, omni is about all. Therefore, even though this article is focused on deliveries, don’t forget that customer services, communications efforts, the store itself and every other touchpoint you might have with your customer also need to carry through the same efforts to make the experience you provide equally good all around.
And, when it comes to the shipping and delivery side of the experience, here’s a few things your eCommerce can implement:
- Freedom of choice
The very idea of omnichannel is based in the concept of option and to make a good experience out of every option you may present. That’s why when it comes to shipping methods, it is very important to offer your customer the freedom to choose the option that best suits not only their needs overall, but their need in each given purchase. That means offering different shipping methods and pricing options, but also means being able to offer them the freedom to choose among different carriers the ones they prefer. That way, in this part of the process, they will still feel just as in control as they felt when they were choosing their items, leading to a bigger willingness to complete the purchase.
According to Ready Cloud, 81% of shoppers want a fast and easy return. And even though you might not be able to offer free returns, just be sure to have a good and transparent return policy in place. Just try to make it as simple as it would be at an offline channel and a lot of the friction of this possibly grueling process is reduced. Remember that a seamless experience can also means that your customer should feel that returning their items should be pretty much as easy as it was to buy them. Omnichannel, after all, is also about a consistent experience through the whole journey, and that includes the post-purchase experience as well.
- Pick up “in store”, even without a store
Major brick and mortar stores that now also sell online are already taking advantage of the fact that they can offer customers the choice to pick-up their orders in a nearby store, in a time that best suits them. And that makes sense when we think that, in The Netherlands for example, 37% of consumers say that being able to choose the time for delivery is an important factor in their decision to buy goods from an online shop. After all, when the parcel is actually delivered to a store, the customer has the chance to pick their parcels at the most appropriate time for them. Don’t have a brick and mortar location? Don’t panic. You can give similar choice to your costumers by partnering with delivery companies that offer different pickup locations or even pickup lockers. The main idea here, which is costumers being able to pick up their orders at the most suitable time, is still maintained.
- Use the power of packaging
Protecting your product so it arrives untouched, and in one piece, and choosing delivery partners that will provide a good delivery experience are basic actions that every store must take into account. But, on top of that, online stores can also make their packaging carry through the same visual and textual messages found on the website. That can be done with a personalized package (that is still solid enough to arrive beautifully after being shipped) or even with a letter or other printed material, such as a catalog of products accompanying the parcel. Just be careful to not go overboard and fill your customer with a flow of information, exactly like you should also not do on your online store. That way, you can make you brand even more tangible and, with some creativity, put an extra smile on your client’s face when they receive their order.