On a fundamental level, retail deliveries have all become more global. Even when you’re just trying to get an order from a distribution center in Chicago to the customer’s home in the suburbs, you’re competing with brands around the globe to craft a delivery experience that inspires confidence and customer loyalty. When it comes to retail especially, the pandemic and the rise of SaaS technologies for delivery management have led to a situation where most consumers around the world want the same thing from their deliveries, and they’ll go out of their way to ensure that the brands they rely on can actually provide that for them.
In short, delivery management software makes it possible to offer standardized delivery experiences around the world—and that’s exactly what consumers expect. They don’t want surprises; they don’t want to guess whether they’re getting a quality experience or not—they want their orders to arrive at the right time with a high level of transparency throughout. This can present a challenge for modern retailers, since it means that getting things like routing and customer communications right can quickly become high stakes.
But it also presents an opportunity: no matter where you are in the world, you can adopt a similar set of best practices to ensure high customer satisfaction throughout the fulfillment process.
The Top 5 Global Retail Delivery Best Practices
1. Enable Delivery Self-Scheduling
In the modern era, customer expectations usually get translated into the language of speed, but often what customers really want—at least when it comes to major purchases like a new washing machine or fridge—is to feel in control. They’ve potentially made a big purchase, and they won’t have that sigh of relief until their purchase is successfully over the threshold and/or installed. So, when they have to play phone tag with a retailer to figure out a delivery time, they start to get impatient.
That’s why the best delivery experience for the average customer starts with the ability to schedule their own delivery time. Not only does this increase the customer’s confidence in the delivery, it also makes it more likely that they will actually be home to receive the product when the driver shows up.
2. Strive for Right-Time Delivery Management
When it comes to parcel deliveries, most consumers feel that the sooner the item arrives, the better. If you expect your new bookcase speakers to show up on Tuesday and they show up on Monday instead, great! But imagine you are expecting a new fridge between 2 and 6 pm, and it arrives at 8 am—this has the potential to be a huge inconvenience. Simply put, early is not the same as on time. That’s why retailers engaging in scheduled deliveries (e.g., for big and bulky items) need to aim for not just the fastest possible turnarounds, but actually showing up at the right time for the customer.
Right-time delivery management is more than just a KPI to track: it’s a comprehensive approach to the delivery process that puts the customer’s needs first at every step.
Prioritizing right-time, rather than just on-time, deliveries means making delivery promises that work for your customers, and actually keeping them. To make this possible in a consistent way, businesses around the globe need to strive to be agile, connected, and intelligent with their delivery management processes. In this way, you can make sure that you’re working with the right information about customer orders and preferences, leveraging that data into efficient plans that you can actually execute, and giving yourself the flexibility to still delight your customers even when not everything goes to plan. In this way you can focus not just on a particular KPI or metric, but on an experience that will keep customers coming back.
3. Offer Real-Time Order Tracking
There’s no getting around it: modern customers want to be able to track their orders in real-time. Not only do they want to know the status of the order throughout the entire process from purchase to fulfillment, they also want to be able to see exactly where the delivery truck is from the moment it leaves the distribution center on the day of delivery.
This can obviously be challenging to provide—particularly if you don’t already have real-time order data for back-office purposes. But the results are well worth the effort. Not only do you offer customers the trappings of a premium experience, the kind they’re growing ever more accustomed to as the e-commerce boom continues, you also offer them data that they can actually do something with. Whether it’s a B2C customer waiting for an exercise bike for their home gym or a B2B customer waiting on a few cases of beer, they can check the status of the truck at their leisure and make informed decisions about how close they need to be to the delivery site. If you can see your driver has a few stops to go before delivering your order, you know that you can go a few blocks down the road to run an errand. If the truck is only a mile away, you can make sure you stay put. The best part? Customers won’t need to call you on the phone to get information.
4. Leverage Constant Communication
No delivery plan is ever going to be 100% accurate. Traffic crops up in unexpected places. Customers cancel or change their orders at the last minute, throwing entire delivery routes into disarray. Customers know this, and it’s not the end of the world. The difference between a late delivery acting as a mild annoyance or a major headache for the customer comes down to communication.
Simply keeping in touch with customers by text and email to let them know that their delivery won’t hit the original ETA can have a huge impact on delivery experience. For one thing, it greatly decreases the odds of a failed delivery resulting from the customer not being home at the new delivery time. By the same token, providing a notification 30 minutes before their item arrives can save the customer the trouble of refreshing their order tracking screen every two minutes to make sure they don’t miss the delivery.
5. Go for Green Logistics
Sustainability is an increasingly important factor when it comes to consumer perception of corporate brands around the world. That means that part of a successful delivery experience can be as simple as finding a way to highlight your company’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and become more sustainable. You might highlight increases in efficiency through route optimization, improvements to your transport network that decrease emissions, or any other green initiatives you’re undertaking throughout the fulfillment process. You can even engage the customer in your sustainability initiatives by offering them the ability to choose greener delivery slots or more eco-friendly packaging options. This way, customers can feel good about having chosen your brand over the competitors.
This is one of the most competitive markets that we’ve seen in recent memory, which means that customer experience has never been more important to success. If you can provide a consistent, repeatable delivery process that delights customers from end to end, you can build lasting customer loyalty. Whether you’re heavily focused on a particular region or you’re fulfilling orders all around the world, the key to making that happen is to implement the right delivery best practices.