Despite the well-known costs of poor delivery, most retailers still fail to impress when it comes down to the final mile. In fact, data shows 58.6% of shoppers say retailers are mediocre at best in this regard, and thanks to the Amazon Effect, benchmarks for those expectations only go higher and higher.
These lackluster customer experiences don’t just mean unimpressed buyers. Bad package tracking experiences can entail additional costs: delays, customer service expenses, and ultimately losing out on customers–even previously loyal ones.
So what can you do to improve package tracking experiences and retain more customers?
Why Package Tracking Matters
First things first: We need to understand why package tracking is so important. There are three main elements you’ll want to keep top-of-mind as you think about this facet of your customer experience–let’s look at them in more detail.
1. Customer Loyalty
A beautiful tracking page is great. But in an era when every retailer and eCommerce site is expected to have order tracking and align with expectations set by Amazon, it’s not enough to be pretty. You also have to meet customer expectations and ensure a seamless delivery experience.
No matter how pretty your tracking page looks, all a customer ultimately wants to know is: “Where is my order?”
Shoppers are asking for more control of their delivery experiences — 52% of power shoppers say delivery efficiency and ease of service are the defining factors when it comes to brand loyalty. As packages get delivered to your customers’ doorsteps, tracking pages are the first step in building trust — they want to know when their package will arrive and when. Using the tracking page to keep them informed is a great way to build trust and rapport that translates into a long-term relationship.
2. Delivery Cost
Delivery mistakes are expensive. From extra shipping fees associated with returned orders to the costs of restocking, the implication of delivery problems can hurt your bottom line in a big way. What’s more: Research shows that poor last-mile delivery experiences are a major source of customer churn. 83% shoppers won’t return after a poor delivery experience.
3. Customer Communication
Shoppers want transparency and clear communication around package tracking–plain and simple. This is true to the point that data shows 47% of customers will avoid ordering from a retailer altogether if there’s a “lack of visibility” during the delivery process. For a customer waiting at home, communication around package tracking pivots around the tracking page, so it’s important to execute this page well (and to keep customers in the loop through other means such as SMS and email), before customers get frustrated and call into your team asking, “Where is my order?” (otherwise known as a WISMO call). [Learn more about how teams are affected by WISMO calls here.]
Now that we know why track and trace, or package tracking, matters, let’s next look at a few specific must-haves around this aspect of the overall customer experience.
Package Tracking Must-Haves:
Visibility is essential when it comes to package tracking, so whenever possible, be sure to put all of the information in one place. Keep in mind that it’s not enough to have information; the information must also be easy to find. It doesn’t matter in a customer’s mind whether the information is there or not; if they can’t find it easily, they’ll get frustrated by the experience. Simplicity on your tracking page solves these issues.
Uncommon Goods does this well. When they ship an order, the customer receives an email with a tracking link, which takes him or her to a custom landing page. From there, the delivery data from the retailer, carrier, and customer is presented together–and the customer can even sign up for text alerts and emails to stay up-to-the-minute on their order’s delivery.
#2: Accurate Tracking Updates
Most customers are willing to be patient as long as they perceive that the delivery process isn’t out of their (or your) control. Providing accurate updates is the key to this perception. 93% of surveyed customers want to be informed and receive updates about their shipments.
Still, your package tracking updates have to meet customers where they are and via their preferred medium. Do they want text updates? Email notifications? What’s most convenient for them?
Some data shows that on average, customers prefer to communicate via email at a rate of 50%, text (21%), and phone (12%) first. However, this can vary. Be sure to survey your unique audience and ask them about their communication preferences.
#3: Self-Service Features
Self-service gives customers a feeling of control and interaction with a company that inspires long-term brand loyalty. Why? Because it provides a feeling of control and empowerment. And as much as 50% of customers think it’s important to be able to solve issues themselves.
Self-service features also provide a way for customers to troubleshoot and to get more flexibility around their order delivery. Research shows shoppers aged 18-34 are 35% more likely to prefer self-service options such as pick-up lockers and holding a shipment at a terminal.
These autonomy-providing tactics also open the door to important feedback opportunities, wherein customers can indicate whether it’s been a good/bad experience (and why.)
#4: Substance and Delivery Communication
Customers have questions. No matter how pretty your tracking page looks, all a customer ultimately wants to know is: “Where is my order?” If a package tracking site doesn’t offer the control and information that a customer needs, it affects your relationship with your customer.
But you shouldn’t stop there. What about additional features? Does a tracking page show a history of interactions with the package? Does it allow customers to sign up for SMS updates? Proof of delivery images? Actionable prompts when there’s an incorrect address? Communicating upfront helps reduce long-term cost, cuts down on customer service queries, and makes for happier customers.
#5: The Ability To Take Action When Delivery Exceptions Arise
When a customer is clicking on a tracking page time and again, they don’t necessarily want updates. What they want is to feel in on the experience, and a delivery that’s tailored to their needs — according to Convey data, customers will check their tracking pages 7 times on average.
A beautiful tracking page is great. But in an era when every retailer and eCommerce site is expected to have order tracking and align with expectations set by Amazon, it’s not enough to be pretty.
According to Convey data, delivery exceptions impact 11% of shipments. When a delivery exception comes up, customers don’t just want to know about it — they want to know that their brands have already caught the issue and have developed a plan to resolve the issue.
Delivery Experience Management provides the ability to proactively respond to issues instead of reactively. With the power to see, analyze, and act on delivery issues, customer service and retail operations teams can create custom views around exceptions, they can contact the carrier within seconds to resolve the issue, and inform the customer of the changes.
This way, a customer never has to look at the tracking page and wonder, “When will my delivery be at my door?” This saves both time and energy around trying to track a package down, and eliminates a lot of potential frustration.
Grove Collaborative does this really well. Using increased visibility into their shipments, they analyzed their most common causes of delivery issues — damages and incorrect addresses — and structured workflows to proactively resolve those issues. Not only did they save $65 per damaged shipment and $23 per shipment with incorrect addresses, but the team saw a 3 point NPS increase from their customers whose shipments had faced exceptions, but were proactively handled.
Beyond Package Tracking: Creating Lifetime Value for Customers
The reality is: For retailers who invest time and money into competing with Amazon and major retailers for shoppers’ dollars, all it takes is one bad delivery experience to undo all of that hard work. It also hurts your CAC and LTV while driving up churn.
If 52% of shoppers say that delivery efficiency and ease of service are the defining factors of brand loyalty, that’s a majority. Package tracking is about more than giving a customer updates; it’s central to the online shopping experience and will help shape the customer’s perception of your value to them.