The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted human lives in every way imaginable, including shipping strategy. From the way we interact to the way we shop, the past one and half years have brought incredible changes to our behaviors. Some new habits have formed, some old ones have vanished and most of them happened online.
With more people buying products online, ecommerce businesses need to revamp their marketing and shipping strategy to stay on the hunt. But it’s easier said than done. To understand how you can upgrade different parts of your business including customer experience and shipping, you need to first analyze the impact of the pandemic.
Shipping lessons learned from the Covid-19
Here are the big takeaways from last year’s pandemic when it comes to shipping and ecommerce:
1. Information and communication are the key
Many retailers and online business owners didn’t pay attention to the huge amount of data at their disposal until now. Gathering information and churning out meaningful insights is key to identifying buyers’ patterns, new trends, and upcoming challenges. When you have complete control over the analytics, you have the power to ride out any kind of disruptions.
The second part of the lesson is communication. Information alone will not take you forward if you cannot devise communication strategies based on the data. People now expect clear communications and real-time updates because it puts them at ease. So, when you have processed the information, make sure to use them to enrich your communication strategies.
2. Consumers prefer omnichannel shopping
The second lesson we have learned from the pandemic is that customers are actively looking into omnichannel shopping. An HBR study from 2017 states that 73% of consumers prefer omnichannel shopping and it has certainly grown in the past year.
Retailers are seeing a growing share of shoppers buying online, then picking up again at physical stores. Online shoppers can purchase items in any manner – across multiple channels and devices. They shop when and where they are comfortable, and they will expect increased flexibility for home delivery. To keep customers happy, businesses need to offer different pick-up points and curbside pickups in case customers want to come and collect their ordered products.
3. Technology is at the heart of the shipping industry
The shipping industry has often been marred by unclear data. Consumers today want to stay on top of their digital activities and that’s where tech-enabled shipping infrastructure comes into the frame. Faster speed of transportation, better accuracy of shipment details, and innovative buyer experience are all made possible with technology. With a digital tracking system, you can now provide detailed shipment information like parcel status and hold requests.
Shipping challenges faced by brick and mortar and ecommerce stores
Before the pandemic, the shipping infrastructures of brick and mortar and ecommerce stores were mostly underdeveloped. The lessons that we learned from last year have only exposed the shipping challenges faced by businesses today.
1. Lack of streamlined shipping strategy
Not every business, be it retail or ecommerce, has invested enough to bolster its shipping strategies. Companies cannot just focus on inventory management and marketing anymore. A fleshed-out shipping strategy includes understanding your buyer demographics, the price point they associate your brand with, whether they have cart abandonment issues and the general geographical distance your products travel. Based on this data, you can partner with a shipping company that can provide both a strong delivery fleet and competitive pricing to keep your costs low. To understand how you can strategize delivery, check out free vs. discounted shipping options. (Link the free vs. discounted shipping article)
2. Inadequate use of technology
Technology is at the heart of new businesses today. Brick and mortar stores have historically suffered because of not investing adequate amounts of time and resources to upgrade their backend systems.
AI and automation: AI and automation were the deciding factors for businesses that not only survived but grew exponentially amidst the pandemic. Yet, less than 50% of businesses use automation to cut down the cost of manual processes, data entry, and inventory updates. Judging by how things have panned out, we’ll see spending of $7.3 billion on AI by 2022, so if you’re planning to future-proof your business, now’s the time to invest in AI, AR, and automation.
Mobile-first approach: People love to use their mobiles, there’s no denying that. Businesses that struggled last year, didn’t present themselves well on mobile in front of their customers. According to a Statista report, mobiles will account for 73% of the entire ecommerce sales in 2021. Having a mobile-friendly website is not enough, people prefer to shop from mobile apps and if they don’t find a seamless mobile experience from your app UI, they will just move on to your competitors.
Social media presence: Businesses that didn’t have a strong social media presence, struggled to communicate with their audience when the pandemic struck. Engineering a social media plan can’t be an afterthought. You need to extend your brand image and communication strategy to social media to maintain strong communications, high availability, and nurture leads.
Digital infrastructure: Needless to say, the brick-and-mortar stores were hit the hardest by the pandemic. Having a strong digital infrastructure that takes into consideration factors like inventory and demand forecast with the help of POS tracking and ERP software can help businesses pivot to new strategies in the coming years
3. Weak final mile delivery system
A Capgemini report says that 43% of supply chain professionals believe that a weak last mile (or final mile) delivery system is one of the prime reasons for high shipping charges. Getting the last piece of the shipping puzzle is important for a streamlined and future-proof ecommerce shipping strategy.
4. Choosing the wrong shipping partners
With so many factors at play and so many avenues to explore, SMB owners find it hard to choose the right delivery partner to send their products to the customers. Failing to choose the party that will be able to engineer solutions relevant to their needs is often the reason why businesses struggle.
Things successful businesses got right last year
Now that you’ve understood the shipping issues that are plaguing businesses today, let’s check out the things that made businesses stand out last year.
1. An end-to-end shopping experience
Businesses that skyrocketed last year employed a unified user experience throughout their products on every platform. They understood the importance of visual commerce and included additional visual content to product pages and website copy. On top of that, they A/B tested dynamic pricing to offer flexible options and revamped their customer services with chatbots and AI.
2. A balance between demand and supply chains
Almost all businesses last year saw uneven sales. That’s why balancing demand and supply chains become a crucial stepping-stone to success. While hoarding products will cost you money, not meeting the demand of your customers will cost you equally. With each ‘Out of Stock’ notification, you lose a customer to your competitors. After a year with pent-up demands, 2021 is seeing ‘revenge buying’ that certainly will overwhelm businesses that didn’t account for a solid balance between demand and supply management.
3. Empathetic marketing campaigns
The pandemic touched upon the lives of most people in some way or the other. In times like these, brazen marketing gimmicks harm your sales and create a negative brand image. Taking a step back, showing empathy, and communicating relevant dialogues surely help businesses.
4. Prioritizing short-term goals
Since the last year was all about changes and disruptions, a lot of long-term plans failed to materialize. As the world is regaining normalcy, it’s easy to slide back into the old models and old business goals. However, it’s important to remember that businesses that stayed flexible about their operations and prioritized getting the small things right, saw excellent results last year.
Things to consider to future-proof shipping strategy
Now that you know the challenges faced by stores today and things that successful businesses got right last year, you need to put the shipping lessons learned from COVID-19 into practice. To future-proof your shipping strategy, consider these points.
1. Taking a step back and evaluate your business
Not everyone is impacted by the pandemic in the same way. Your business is unique to you and your customers so when you decide to roll out a new strategy, first let the dust settle and take a long, hard look at the consequences. Assess the key areas your business delivers, check the financial impact on these areas, the economic policies that are in place, and analyze how long it will take to recover. Based on the facts, you will have a much better idea of where to focus.
2. Analyzing your capacity
Your ambitious plans to rejig the shipping strategy will fall flat on its face if you don’t have the workforce or the capacity to handle change at a large scale.
For ecommerce owners, most of the employees are working from remote workplaces and even brick and mortar stores aren’t operating at full capacity. Before you jump the gun, make sure your workforce is trained for the disruption and shares the same unified value as you. On top of that, don’t forget to keep the customer experience as smooth as possible. If needed, inform them in advance, as the importance of communication is one of the first things we’ve learned from last year.
3. Preparing new timelines
When you change something as big as your shipping strategy, understanding how timelines will be impacted is very important. Before you begin, consider this – do you have new shipments or events coming up? Are you planning to launch new products? Will the shipping delay be a cause for concern?
Once you have all the right answers, move on to creating timelines. You will have some short-term goals and some long terms – properly analyze the ROI in respect to the timeline to see how feasible the changes are.
4. Reconnecting with customers
Amidst all the chaos, don’t forget the most important part of your business – the customers. Along with expectations, their buying patterns have seen major changes. You can take a closer look at the sales patterns in the last few months to narrow down your most popular products and upgrade your inventory management to offer the most popular products and their new variations.
When you move on to a new delivery partner, your customers might experience some sort of shopping glitches. You can consider offering them coupons or a complimentary free delivery to ease the nerves.
5. Preparing for a repeat
Things may not be like this ever again, but it’s always a good idea to prepare for the worst. You need to be flexible for changes (both good and bad) and chalk out immediate response plans. Keep your focus on the health and safety of your workforce, staying connected with your customers, and coming back with newfound enthusiasm.
Independent couriers: The vital cog in ecommerce shipping
In the process of revolutionizing your shipping processes, you should factor in the need for independent couriers.
Local, independent couriers offer you personalized solutions. For instance, if you need to extensively cover a specific region, a local courier will be able to give you both a well-equipped fleet and the guarantee to deliver products sooner than national delivery partners. They’re often accommodating of your unique needs, something that will come in handy when you decide to scale your business in the future.
Independent couriers may just well be the missing piece of the shipping puzzle you’ve looking for. You get to save money, improve delivery time and keep your customers extra happy.
IntelliQuick Delivery: The delivery partner to future-proof shipping
A good shipping partner can make a huge difference in your shipping strategy for the future. When it comes to fulfillment in the entire southwest region, IntelliQuick Delivery is your best bet. We have headquarters in Arizona, but our service centers are spread across the Southwest, including Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and Denver with 100,000 square feet of warehouse space.
We streamline your ecommerce shipping strategy so that you can focus on your core business operations. Here’s how we can future-proof your business:
Same day delivery
IntelliQuick offers an optimized network and an efficient workforce armed with the best of technology. This means that we can deliver products to the customers as fast as the same day they’ve been ordered. We have a special Have It Today or the H.I.T delivery model that fulfills orders within hours!
Features that work for you
We understand not every business is cut from the same cloth. In our 15 years of delivering happiness, we’ve offered hyper-specialized services such as cross-docking, lease couriers, warehouse and fulfillment, medical and financial orders, and final mile delivery. Whatever your project needs, we have a service for you.
Shipping charges that fit your pockets
IntelliQuick employs the most advanced technology to cut down inefficiency and cost. We stand out in terms of affordable charges and top-tier services. To know more about our pricing structure and get a custom quote for your business, check out our inquiry tab.
Customer service you can rely on
At IntelliQuick, we know the importance of communication and we aim to offer the same experience we’ve strived hard to achieve all these years. Our customer service representatives are always on and they are ready to help you whenever you come across any issues or need a last-minute solution.