Heading into the holiday weekend spirits were high, and for good reason, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) 154 million people made purchases over the extended holiday weekend, up from 151 million a year ago. The standout statistic was the record-breaking online sales as shoppers scoped out deals online. The survey found that 43.8% of consumers shopped online during the four-day span while store traffic dropped 3.7% from last year. Increasing online sales mean increased pressure for logistics teams to perform.
We know that retailers and carriers have been prepping all year to improve performance this holiday season – so how did they do?
Convey monitored thousands of shipments across our retail clients over the four-day holiday weekend and what we found was the percent of shipments with carrier-reported issues was down slightly from the average for the previous month. This is perhaps an indicator that carrier emphasis on prepping for the busy weekend may be working, getting Thanksgiving shopping weekend deliveries out the door. However, a little more than half of shopper feedback on the delivery experience was negative. The leading customer complaint was that shipments were “never delivered” followed by delays and damaged products.
These negative experiences don’t have to remain that way. Shopper expectations are increasing every day and likewise the tolerance for subpar performance is decreasing. Retailers have the opportunity to regain consumer confidence by recognizing when issues occur and addressing them in proactive, positive ways.
According to NRF only 9% of shoppers have finished their holiday shopping. That means retailers who “wow” right now will keep shoppers coming back over the next month and beyond. Managing expectations through effective communication is key to saving relationships during this pivotal shopping season.
76% of the issues we saw this holiday weekend had the potential to have some sort of action taken to improve the customer experience. 21% were issues worthy of escalation to a customer service representative (i.e. carrier-reported damages, return-to-sender situations, issues arising from incorrect contact information etc.) Additionally, 55% of the experience issues seen over the weekend could have been addressed through automated rules-based communication.
Real Examples of How to Improve the Delivery Experience.
1. Escalate Urgent Issues
In this example the customer paid for expedited shipping and the tracking information indicated that the package was still in-transit – no delay exceptions were flagged until the package was already late. However, the package hadn’t moved in over 2 days. Had the issue of the package not moving for more than 6 hours been escalated and investigated with the carrier the negative experience could have been avoided. Advanced communication that an issue existed, an indication that the retailer was already investigating and working to remedy the issue, and a refund for the shipping costs proactively returned to the customer (as the committed SLA was not met) would have placated the disappointed shopper.
2. Automate Resolutions
This package was damaged in transit and was returned by the carrier to the shipper. The carrier eventually reported the package as “delivered” when it was actually “delivered” back to the warehouse. The customer was completely unaware and reasonably upset thinking that the package was just very, very late. When a damaged exception was flagged by the carrier, automation rules could have triggered a notification of the damage to the customer and retailer both – triggering the customer to reset expectations around delivery time and the retailer to immediately send out a replacement product and new tracking information to the customer.
We are proud to share that this weekend Convey’s retail customers provided proactive, automated SMS notifications to over 50% of all shoppers who experienced shipment issues.
Holiday sales in the US are on track to break records, but as more are purchases are fulfilled through online channels, more pressure is being put on shippers to provide exceptional experiences. Want to learn more about how you can escalate or automate shipment issue resolution and improve your shopper’s experience? Click to learn more about our Engage product.