It has been a tumultuous 2020 for craft breweries as the pandemic has seen traditional on-premise sales and experiences temporarily placed on hold. Lacking in the world of e-Commerce is no longer an option, spurring many on to adjust their business models and expand their sales into direct-to-consumer (D2C). What these companies might be finding, however, is their regular in-house customer may look slightly different in an online world.
Buying online brings out a new type of shopper in all of us. Traditional loyalties are forgotten, and consumers will go elsewhere if the business fails to meet their expectations. And high on the list of their priorities? The quality of the delivery and returns service. A whopping 45% of shoppers abandon their cart if they deem the delivery options to be lacking, meaning now is the time to start mastering a seamless delivery and shipping process that puts your customers first. Not doing so could risk you falling at the first hurdle.
A range of delivery options
A long week working from home calls for a good beer to help kick-back, and what’s better than a simple click to get a pack magically dropped on your doorstep that day? We could get used to that! Some would deem that a service worth paying a little extra for. But not everyone is the same. For every ‘need it now’ customer, there is one more cautious with the purse strings, happy to wait longer if it means paying less. Good things come to those who wait, they say.
Independent breweries need to take the time to understand their customers a-new and tailor their services to suit. This means offering a variety of delivery options such as next day, same day, nominated, click and collect or deferred, rather than relying on a one-size-fits all approach. Doing so will put the control back with the customer and help spread the cost for you too. No longer do you need to feel pressured to offer fast and free delivery for everyone to keep up with the competition. This is good news, as this can be tough on your margins, especially if you’re reaching out into the world of e-commerce for the first time.
Streamline shipping by getting control of your supply chain
Identifying bottlenecks in your shipping process can be tricky. You can be busy fixing one leak and before you know it, another has sprung elsewhere. To help avoid this and get a better handle of your orders you’ll need maximum visibility over your shipments and supply chain. This means ensuring you have the right technology for the job.
Having a quick snapshot of all your shipments at any one time, for example, would mean you can spot any problems as soon as they arise and react accordingly. Taking a more data driven approach also means that you can learn more about your supply chain for the future. The sooner you can identify any re-occurring issues, the sooner you can put the necessary contingency measures in place to future-proof your shipping process.
Tracking is important for your customers too. After having placed their order, they will be keen to know when it is going to arrive, so you need to give them regular updates and let them know if there are any delays. They might be disappointed to wait a bit longer, but they will be grateful for the heads-up, and you will spend less time handling queries. A win-win all round.
Neglecting returns is a problem
Neglecting returns as part of your delivery and shipping process could quickly undo all your hard work. Returns are notoriously complex, mainly because of the lack of visibility around them. Perhaps some damage has been caused in transit, or the customer received the wrong selection. Not knowing the reason for a return or what condition the item is in until you get it back can leave you playing catch up and cause big delays. Making sure you avoid this is critical, especially when shipping products with expiration dates. Any hold-ups could deem the products unsuitable for resale, potentially damaging your profits.
Returns matter to your customers too. Opening a parcel to find a burst can is enough to leave anyone feeling flat, which is why 78% of customers check the returns policy before making a purchase (IMRG Returns Review 2020). Giving returns equal care will mean you can offer a quicker turnaround for your customer, be it a refund, or exchange. Ninety-two percent of customers who had a good returns experience will buy again, so get your returns right and they might just be back for another round!
A multi-carrier approach for a perfectly crafted delivery and shipping process
A huge amount of care and effort has already gone into producing the best quality products for your customers, so you need to be sure your delivery and shipping process stacks up. This means offering a broad choice of delivery options so customers can easily find the one that suits them best.
One option is to work with multiple carriers rather than relying on just one to ensure you can offer a wide range of delivery services. It also means that you have backup should any problems arise with one carrier. However, working with multiple carriers means more cost to you and more operational overhead dealing with different pickups, contracts and technology integration. Working with a single delivery partner that is multi-carrier means you can have access to the different level of services, without the operational burden on your business. It ensures you can give a customer experience that customers love, while preserving your bottom line.
Treating your delivery and shipping process as a fully integrated part of your customer experience may take time and extra resource to set up, but get it right – and you will be well on the way to a winning e-Commerce delivery and shipping process fit for any eventuality.
Bobbie Ttooulis is Executive Director of Global Freight Solutions, a UK-based multi-carrier shipping and e-commerce delivery company.