Largely thanks to Amazon, customer delivery expectations have historically skyrocketed, increasing year-over-year. Consumers hailed ‘fast and free delivery’ as the reason why they shop on Amazon. Pre-Coronavirus, we found that as many as 49% of consumers would abandon their cart simply due to a mismatch between their expectations for the delivery date and the actual delivery date. However, a lot has changed with the current climate.
We surveyed over 1,000 shoppers to understand if and how their delivery expectations have shifted in light of COVID-19. Read on to learn our findings around what drives shopper conversion during this time, and why setting expectations around last mile customer delivery is critical from the get-go.
Last Mile Customer Delivery Expectations Shift For Non-Essential And Non-Perishable Goods
Since the COVID-19 outbreak has started, orders have surged as shoppers move online. However, fulfillment times have since lagged, and exception rates have skyrocketed. Fulfillment time increased by almost 40% during March — the same parcel order that used to take 15.1 hours to fulfill took 21.2 hours to fulfill, according to Convey’s data. Delivery exceptions, such as delays and damaged packages, have increased by 98%, compared to March.
While ‘fast and free’ delivery was a key factor in consumer buying decisions previously, shoppers buying non-essential items understand that their usual ‘fast and free’ delivery might not be possible in the given environment. Even Amazon has reneged on its two-day delivery promises, citing the importance of prioritizing essential goods as the reason why Amazon Prime subscribers must wait longer for their packages to arrive.
Despite previous circumstances, shoppers have shown that they are understanding of this situation. Our survey shows that customers are willing to accept deliveries of longer than two days. In our consumer survey, almost all shoppers (95.4%) said that they are willing to give retailers more time to deliver items. In fact, 60% of shoppers are willing to give retailers 3-4 additional days to ship their orders. Another 18.8% are willing to wait 5-6 days for their delivery, and 16.6% said they’d give retailers 7+ days or longer to deliver.
These brands are creating a new level of transparency in these alerts, while also fostering a connection with customers and improving WISMO calls. Customers prefer this method of communication as well — in our consumer survey, we found that if any package is delayed, and the consumer is not informed, 69.7% of shoppers would be less likely to shop with that retailer again. [Learn other communication best practices during COVID-19]
Essential Retailers Innovate In eCommerce Fulfillment To Leapfrog The Competition
On the other hand, we have seen brands that carry essential goods, such as medical supplies, leapfrogging their eCommerce and last mile logistics systems to keep up with capacity and increased customer expectations. For these brands, investing in transparency and control of their delivery operations will allow them to keep up with the fast-changing retail landscape.
As shoppers are forced to go online for their supplies, the complexity of delivery options is going to keep getting increased, and it’s going to happen faster. UPS and CVS have already announced that they will start using drones to deliver items, leapfrogging other competitors by getting items faster to their customers. Shoppers want more communication and faster deliveries for these critical items, and this goes beyond enabling basic track and trace capabilities. [Learn more trends and innovations from our COVID-19 webinar.]
According to Business Insider, in this space, both eCommerce and supply chain managers (SCMs) should be thinking about:
- How close they should be getting to their customers?
- How can they invest in warehouse automation to fulfill items faster?
- How can they build speed and flexibility in their last mile delivery processes so they can pivot quickly?
- How can they enable faster and more communication to keep customers apprised of when delivery is on the way?
Transparency In Delivery Dates Is Key To Drive eCommerce Sales And Win Consumer Confidence
For those buying both essential and non-essential items, the estimated delivery date (EDD) is still a crucial part of the delivery experience. Regardless of how much complexity there is in the system, the keys to keeping customer confidence high are providing a reliable experience throughout the customer journey. Shoppers want their retailers to provide certainty amidst the uncertainty that shrouds COVID-19.
Providing accurate estimated delivery dates is critical here. According to our survey, almost all shoppers (97.8%) believe that it’s at least somewhat important to indicate when their packages will arrive, with over half of shoppers (52.8%) indicating that it’s ‘very important.’ In other words, they still want to buy from retailers who can make promises they can keep.
Retailers focusing on improving customer conversion (CVR) rates should follow the best practice of putting the estimated delivery date (EDD) on the product detail page (PDP) or in the shopping cart. Three-fourths (75.1%) of shoppers in our survey indicated putting EDD on the product page or in the cart positively influences their decision to buy the item. This is key for eCommerce leaders looking for better conversion rate optimization (CRO) in the future. [Learn how to leverage AI to enable competitive merchandising.]
Some retailers who may typically choose two-day delivery may opt for slower and cheaper delivery services during this time. It’s still possible to easily flip the switch between faster and slower delivery without compromising the experience of reliability for your shoppers. Convey Convert allows retailers to adjust delivery dates according to factors such as risk tolerance, cost, accuracy, and more. Then, using Convey’s supply chain AI model and its database of billions of shipping events, it presents the optimal, accurate estimated delivery date for shoppers.
Maintain Your Customers’ Trust During And Beyond The COVID-19 Crisis
While shipping dates or the estimated delivery date may seem trivial, shoppers make it clear throughout our survey that delivery transparency at every stage of the journey is crucial to keeping their trust, no matter what externality occurs. Not only does this trust increase the likelihood that the shopper will press the ‘buy’ button in the post-purchase experience, but it also makes them more likely to come back and buy more over time, increasing their lifetime value (LTV).
Want to see more statistics from our survey, do you want to read more about our coronavirus coverage? Check out the following:
- Learn how to drive revenue and win customers with AI-powered estimated delivery dates. Convey Convert uses predictive technology to present accurate estimated delivery dates as early as the product detail page.
- The press release from our COVID-19 delivery preferences survey goes over more key findings on shopper wants and needs during this unprecedented time.
- Our Parcel Network Pulse Dashboard pulls together our data of over 3 billion shipping events to help retailers identify where eCommerce fulfillment disruptions are happening.
- As COVID-19 impacts ripple across the supply chain, what should retailers do to keep customers happy? Stay up to date with trends and best practices in our blog, Managing Coronavirus: How Can Retailers Mitigate Supply Chain Shock?
- With so much uncertainty in the next few months, what should retailers focus on in 2020? Forecasting Supply Chain Resilience in 2020 goes over trends and insights we’re hearing from experts and top retailers.
- Consumer Survey: A Guide To Post-Purchase Communication During COVID-19 goes over best practices around communication during COVID-19.