Customer retention is an e-commerce company’s bread-and-butter when it comes to success.
In today’s competitive online market, it’s more important than ever to find ways to retain your customers, with the cost and resources needed to acquire new ones continually on the rise.
And this is where customer experience comes into play, with customer experience going hand-in-hand with customer retention.
So the question is: how can you turn one-time shoppers into loyal returning customers by improving your shipping strategy?
Keep reading to discover exactly how you can offer flexible and reliable shipping options, streamline your order fulfilment process, and provide an exceptional customer-centric delivery experience to keep customers coming back to you time and time again.
How shipping strategies drive customer retention
The delivery process is the final point of contact between the customer and your e-commerce store, and it can have a significant impact on your customer satisfaction and repeat purchase rate.
This is especially true if it’s a bad experience.
And with customers increasingly demanding shipping that is convenient, fast, and affordable, it’s more essential than ever that your delivery experience is top-notch.
These expectations include:
- Affordable shipping costs
- Speedy delivery times
- The ability to choose their preferred courier and delivery method
- CO2 neutral delivery
- And much much more…
If you want to discover more on what online consumers expect when shopping online, then make sure to download this year’s consumer research for the latest insights.
6 shipping strategies to increase your customer retention
In this section, we’ll discuss several shipping and logistics strategies that you can apply to improve customer experience and build loyalty.
1: Offer flexible and convenient shipping options
Almost 1 in 4 customers will abandon the checkout if they can’t choose their preferred delivery method.
Offering a variety of flexible shipping options is essential because customers expect to be able to choose the delivery method that best suits their needs.
Your customers all live different lives. Some want faster delivery, while others want to select the delivery day and time, or even have the package delivered to a collection point.
By offering a range of options, you can meet the needs of a wider range of customers.
And although you may be lamenting that these services can be more expensive, customers highly appreciate the convenience and are willing to pay for it.
And this ultimately results in their repeat custom.
“The best way to offer a wide selection of shipping options is to ship with multiple carriers and centralise your shipping efforts. If you don’t, you’ll have to navigate countless different solutions from multiple carriers.” Rob van den Heuvel – CEO of Sendcloud
2. Streamline your order processing
Expediting order processing is a key part of online store logistics.
It goes without saying that smooth and efficient order processing ensures that products are delivered to customers on time, in good condition, and with minimal inconvenience.
Therefore, it can significantly influence customer satisfaction and loyalty…particularly in the world of Amazon Prime, same-day dispatches, and next-day delivery.
But it’s also a win-win for you as well, as it can also greatly reduce the amount of wasted time, resources and people-power you require to get your orders dispatched (ergo saving you money).
However, managing the ordering process can be complex and time consuming, especially for online stores with high shipping volumes.
If you’re looking into optimising your order processing, there are many steps to consider. If you want more advice on the best ways to improve your order processing, feel free to get in touch to speak directly to one of our experts who can advise you with your business’s needs.
3: Manage inventory and avoid stockouts
Stockouts can be a major cause of customer frustration and disappointment, especially if a customer orders items that you actually don’t have in stock and they have to wait.
This is a sure-fire recipe for bad reviews, lost future sales, and even a damaged reputation if it consistently occurs.
On the flip-side, overstocking can lead to increased storage costs and the risk of obsolete inventory, harming your bottom line.
Using effective inventory management:
- products are guaranteed to always be available for purchase
- the risk of stockouts or overstocking is reduced
- product listings on your website will stay up-to-date by syncing your inventory data to your shop system
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to set up “Back-in-Stock” notifications so you don’t lose customers interested in items that are unfortunately out of stock for the time being.
3: Take your tracking to the next level
As mentioned, 1 in 4 online shoppers will not reorder again from an online store if tracking isn’t included.
And these days, tracking goes a lot further than just informing the delivery date. It is without a doubt a fundamental tool that makes the delivery experience superior for your customers.
When done right, your tracking experience can keep your store front-of-mind when your customers start to have new purchase needs arise.
The best tracking experiences include:
- Informing customers of the exact timeframe when the delivery will happen
- Allowing customers to change the address, time, or place of the delivery, even once the package has been dispatched
- Proactively informing the customer of any delays in real-time, alleviating their disappointment and decreasing the number of Where-Is-My-Order queries for your support team
- Informing customers of the status of any return packages, enhancing their peace-of-mind when returning items
By going the extra mile with tracking, you can not only improve customer satisfaction and confidence with shopping with you, but also prevent potential damage to your reputation from delays.
5: Use returns as a tool for retention
Now you might think this sounds super counter-productive, but a seamless and convenient returns process will increase your customer satisfaction, increasing shoppers’ confidence to keep coming back to your store.
Implementing a self-serve returns portal is a win-win for both you and your customers.
With a returns portal, you allow your customers to create their return label without involving your customer support. The portal’s custom settings can ensure returns are issued within the set time period while allowing you to also set up whether you will charge for the return or not.
A self-serve portal will provide you the control you need while still offering convenience and ease-of-mind to your customers who won’t need to rely on your customer support team to issue their return.
6: Implement sustainable and environmentally friendly shipping practices
Being environmentally friendly is no longer an option for online stores, but a necessity.
53% of European consumers believe that the increase in online shopping is a problem for the environment (according to our 2023 consumer research).
Customers are increasingly environmentally aware and look for sustainable e-commerce companies who share their values and strive to reduce their impact on the environment.
To implement sustainable and environmentally friendly shipping practices, e-commerce businesses can start by evaluating their current shipping processes and identifying areas for improvement, such as shipping, delivery, and packaging.
In addition, you can highlight your sustainability efforts when communicating with customers to build trust and loyalty. For example, provide information on your website about shipping practices and the measures taken to reduce the impact on the environment.
By taking steps to improve shipping practices, you won’t just help protect the environment, but also differentiate yourself from competitors, building a strong reputation among their customers.
“Sustainability will continue to redefine the way consumers shop online, with shoppers more aware of reducing their carbon footprint and making more environmentally sustainable choices.” Ruslan Fazlyev – Ecwid by Lightspeed
Customer retention: conclusions
It’s important to remember that the customer experience goes beyond the product itself. Shipping and delivery can be a deciding factor for many customers, and online stores must be proactive in addressing these issues to maintain customer loyalty.
In an increasingly competitive online marketplace, e-commerce companies must make shipping and logistics a top priority to differentiate themselves from their competitors and build customer loyalty.
In conclusion, the importance of shipping and e-commerce logistics for customer loyalty cannot be overemphasised. By taking a strategic approach to this part of the business, online stores can create a competitive advantage, increase customer satisfaction, and drive repeat purchases, ultimately leading to long-term customer loyalty.
If you want to continue learning about what customers want when they shop online through insights from over 9,000 consumers across Europe and the US, then make sure you download the 2023 E-commerce Delivery Compass below.