Shipping the customer experience

How the Shipping Experience Can Make or Break Your Future Customers

Did you know the shipping experience makes or breaks your customer experience? And chances are, you have first-hand experience of how this plays a huge part in the customer experience. 

Imagine – it’s your nephew’s birthday this week. You procrastinate picking up his gift, and when you finally head to the store… sold out. “It’s still in stock online, though,” the cashier says. 

You rush to your phone, add to cart, and desperately check the shipping times. It’ll get here the day of. You get to be the hero!

Until you don’t. The day-of rolls around, but the order doesn’t.

Now your experience may not be a nephew’s birthday party, but you likely have been in this situation – anxiously checking for package updates in your email or refreshing the tracking information, only to end up with an order that arrives well after you need it.  

And chances are, it’s not just your nephew’s birthday, wedding gift, or office Secret Santa that’s ruined by a delayed package, it’s also your perception of the brand. 

As a consumer, you get it. And as a business owner, you can’t risk it happening. 

Let’s go over why the post-sale experience is so important, and simple ways to improve it. 

What is the Shipping and Post-Sale Experience? 

The post-sale experience is an experience that is exclusive to eCommerce sales because customers leave with their product when they buy from a brick-and-mortar store. 

A post-sale experience is what the customers experience between the time they order an item and it arrives at their house. Despite not owning the entire experience (unless you hand-deliver each order in your car, you’re likely at least using a shipping service), customers tie the entire experience to your brand, including delivery. It’s your job to find ways to impress your customer as they wait and, ideally, post-delivery! 

How Important is the Shipping Experience, Really?

The shipping experience is more than the order getting there on time. It includes how easy it is to check out, the speed of delivery, and the custom packaging you choose to send your product in. 

Need some more proof? Check out these jaw-dropping shipping stats.

  • Over 40% of U.S. shoppers get at least one package per week
  • The expectation for same-day shipping is on the rise – over 56% of consumers between 18-34 expect same-day delivery. If it’s not the standard, 61% of people in the same age group would pay for same-day delivery
  • Customers want to be talked to throughout their post-sale experience. Over 80% of buyers want updates on their order communicated to them regularly 
  • Over 80% of consumers are persuaded to make a purchase by free shipping
  • Nearly half of customers – 43%, to be exact – will abandon their cart if the shipping costs are too high

How Does This Make or Break the Customer Experience?

The fact is that expectations on eCommerce businesses from customers are skyrocketing. And in order to keep your customers around, you need to meet the delivery and shipping expectations that have become the norm.

Not only can this make or break the experience for your customers, it can also deter new ones. If the expectations aren’t met, future customers will likely abandon their orders before they even place an order. 

Pro tip: Have some type of email program set up that can email people with items in their cart! A few friendly reminders may convince them to hit purchase, even if the shipping deterred them originally.

Once somebody places an order, a poor shipping experience can deter them from purchasing in the future. And with nearly 15% of online customers making repeat purchases, you don’t want them to have a reason to not make a repeat purchase with you. 

So, how do you ensure customers are happy?

What Does the Post-Sale Experience Look Like and How Do You Improve It?

At this point, there’s no doubt that the post-sale and shipping experience is an important part of your business. Delivery is the last touchpoint you have with a customer to complete each eCommerce transaction, after all! 

Since it’s such an important part of the business, it’s even more important to understand it. Let’s break down each step of the sales cycle, and where the post-sale experience begins, and tips for improving it. 

1) Customer Places Order

The first part of the post-sale experience is, well, a sale taking place. The process begins when a customer places an order online.

How can you improve this for the customer?

First, you want to remove as many objections as possible. As best as you can, provide shipping options that meet the customer's expectations. If you can’t afford to pay for free premium shipping, see about having free and slower options, as well as premium and paid for.

You also want to make the online order experience as seamless as possible. This includes having solid site speed, a mobile-friendly experience, and an easy-to-navigate online store. People don’t want to struggle to place an order. 

Since half of online orders are placed through a phone, see about adding Apple or Google Pay to your store. If people have their payment information saved to their phone, you don’t need to worry about them abandoning their cart.

2) Customer Receives Confirmation of Their Order

Once the order is placed, the customer should receive a confirmation of their order via email. This message would include details about their purchase and provide peace of mind that their order has gone through.

How can you improve this for the customer?

If you aren’t sending a confirmation email, that’s the first step! Sending a confirmation email lets the customer know you did, in fact, receive their order and the next steps are taking place. You’ll want to include:

  • A thank you to the customer for ordering with you
  • An order summary, reminding the customer what they 
  • Next steps (like letting them know they’ll receive an email letting them know when the order has shipped!)
  • A way to contact you if needed

If you are already sending a confirmation email, find ways to encourage repeat business through that communication. Consider a 10% off coupon at the bottom of the email.

3) Order Ships Out

There’s nothing more exciting for a consumer than knowing the order is on the road and making its way to them! Once an order has been processed, the next step in this chain is to ship it out.

How can you improve this for the customer?

Similar to the confirmation of an order, customers want to receive updates on this – remember the stat that over 80% of customers want regular communication about their order status.

That’s why you want to make sure you’re letting customers know their order has physically been shipped! This avoids confusion on their part, and frustration thinking their order is still being processed days (or weeks!) later. 

In this email, you can let them know their order has been sent out and give a date range for its arrival. If it is available, include their tracking information as well. This way they can follow along without constantly reaching out to you or your customer support team. This also helps to manage expectations – they can see where the order actually is. 

You also want to ensure customers know who to contact if the order is lost or never shows up. At this point, they would likely be frustrated, so you want to remove as much friction as possible.

4) Customer Receives Order

The long-awaited moment has arrived! Whether it’s a new mattress or workout set, the delivery has made it safe and sound to its intended destination. 

How can you improve this?

Ensure there’s some proof of delivery, like a signature, photo proof, or notification. You can even send an email to let them know the order has been delivered – this adds another touchpoint for your customer!

You also have to consider extra improvements, depending on the product you sell. For example, if you’re selling furniture, will the delivery go to the door or be brought into the house? Will you offer a white-glove service, where the product is assembled and any old product it replaces is removed? There’s a lot you can do to elevate this experience. 

Pro tip: See where you can encourage this cycle to repeat at this point. Within the packaging of your product, include flyers for add-ons (like the perfect cozy throw to toss over the mattress, or a 25% off sneakers that will go well with the workout set!). You want customers to come back to you. 

Final Thoughts on the Shipping Experience

When you’re a direct-to-consumer brand selling online, the shipping experience is part of the entire customer experience. After all, it’s the last touchpoint a customer will have with your brand when they receive an order. And a bad delivery or shipping experience can leave a permanent bad taste in their mouth. 

By understanding the importance of shipping, where the customer expectations sit, and each step in the post-sale process, you can start improving things from there! After all, you can’t fix what you don’t understand fully.

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Katie McCann

Written by Katie McCann

Katie is the Content Marketing Manager at Bolt, creating resources to help eCommerce businesses of all sizes thrive. When she's not tracking her online orders, you can find her obsessing over her pandemic puppy.