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4 Holiday Shipping Trends Shaping Online Shopping

Liz Alton
December 10, 2018

3 minute read

Holiday shipping is a make-it or break-it aspect of the online shopping experience. The National Retail Federation estimates that 2018 holiday retail sales will increase by as much as 4.1%, and Digital Commerce 360 predicts online shopping will climb 15.5% over last year. Consumers gravitate toward the convenience, variety, and deals of shopping online. For retailers, this adds another dimension to the customer experience: delivering packages to customers on time.

A host of new technologies and strategies are targeting the shipping issues online retailers face. Here are 4 of them:

Reducing “wismo” requests through better transparency

Digital shopping feels like a breeze — customers locate just the right item, find a sale, and place their order. Then, potentially, days or weeks go by with no updates on their order’s status and no package on the doorstep. Customers get frustrated, and companies are inundated with “Where is my package?” (or “Wismo”) inquiries. GetElastic found that these requests can comprise 70% of customer service contacts during the holidays. Brands are turning to tools which improve communication about shipping and returns. Buyers see exact delivery estimates with different tiers of service, receive notifications when packages are shipped and delivered, and simplified returns.

Use incentives to alleviate shipping pressure

In an era of two-day shipping, customers expect holiday shipping that’s fast and cost effective. Meeting these expectations requires a strong back-end operation and providing customers choices for choosing slower shipping options. According to Business Insider, Amazon has implemented a program that allows Prime Members to select “no rush” shipping. In return, they get credits that can be used on future products or immediate discounts on the order being processed. Other brands are experimenting with incentives such as raffles or free samples when shoppers opt for slower shipping.

Faster shipping than ever before

Historically, customers have had to choose between going to a store to get an item in hand today, or ordering online and waiting for delivery. Today, brands such as Walmart offer same-day in-store pickup for products offered online, and other same-day delivery solutions are on the horizon for businesses to experiment with. Small Business Trends estimates that 65% of brands will have a same-day delivery option by 2019. Whether brands facilitate in-store pickups, partner with third-party delivery services, or implement their own lightning-speed distribution solutions, innovation is happening quickly. This creates both marketing opportunities and the need to manage back-end logistics and inventory very closely.

Automated package management solutions

There are many dimensions to securing reliable shipping. Providers such as Package Concierge partner with apartments, universities, retail establishments, and corporate offices to provide secure package services. Retailers are reducing last-mile fulfillment costs by using onsite lockers that are quick to fill, secure, and let customers pick up their order without tying up staff. Users can scan a code or enter order information to get the locker to release their purchases.

Holiday shipping is a key facet of the online shopping customer experience. Retailers are focusing on closing the gap between products ordered and delivered products, with the goal of every package arriving on time, every time. Innovation in technologies, offers, and service delivery models has upped the retail game during the holiday season and will continue in the years ahead.

To learn more about 2018 holiday shopping season trends, visit smartercx.com/holiday.

Liz Alton
Liz Alton
Liz Alton is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B technology, digital marketing, and the customer experience. Her clients include creative agencies, Fortune 500 brands, and venture-backed startups.
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