Being Certain in Uncertain Times
More Than a Box: Build Loyalty Through Parcel Shipping
With less face-to-face interactions, the traditional ways of doing business are gone. Less foot traffic in stores makes shopping less personal. And now that remote workforces are common, even business-to-business (B2B) vendors who don't rely on storefronts have lost relationship-making opportunities like business lunches and tradeshows.
To adapt, companies need to find new ways to hold customer' attention in a world swinging heavily toward the speed of service, bottom-dollar costs and convenience. For many industries, fulfillment has become the handshake between customer and business. But can a box really build a lasting connection? If you're thinking about it in black-and-white, probably not. For those willing to put a little more behind parcel shipping, though, there's a lot to be gained.
The key is to move beyond a transactional mindset and relationship to show customers that they're more than an order number. Let's take a look at a few strategies that will improve your fulfillment strategy and customer relationships.
Brown box, or branding opportunity?
If customers aren't coming to you in person, why not bring the experience and feel of your brand to them? Going the extra mile for branded packaging is a great way to put excitement into deliveries. Custom UPS® shipping labels allow you to add a logo to the outside of packages, or you can go all out with a dedicated packaging partner for designed boxes and inserts. Doing this turns shipments into conversation pieces. Your customers might not start an unboxing channel on YouTube dedicated to you, but the positive momentum can quickly turn into icebreakers in follow-up sales conversations or repeat online orders.
Let customers choose their fulfillment method.
The new standards of free and fast shipping are here to stay. However, that's not the only way to fulfill orders. Customers have different needs and preferences. The better you build your shipping and business model to reflect this diversity, the more connections you'll make. This includes one- or two-day, free shipping and in-store pickup options if you have the branches to support it.
To make up for the added expenses of faster delivery, you can look to reduce expenses in other areas of your shipping operations. A few changes to your processes could be the difference between eating the costs of these services or offsetting them. You may also find that not all customers need lightning-fast turnarounds. In these cases, economical shipping programs like UPS SurePost® can improve your expenses on certain small package shipments while meeting customer needs.
Keep customers informed with UPS tracking.
A good way of helping customers create a connection with you is by getting them involved in the shipping process. Offer a tracking number and instruct them on how to use UPS tracking online. Once customers have tracking information, they'll be able to see details such as the ship date, delays and delivery date. Giving them this information not only empowers them to keep tabs on their orders – the self-service could save you from customer service calls for status updates. When customers want more information or play-by-play updates, you can dive into the deeper shipment details available in a transportation management system (TMS).
Keep them coming back with a good return policy.
Many customers, especially e-commerce shoppers, lean on businesses with friendly return shipping workflows. We've covered parcel returns best practices in the past, but it's worth reiterating that good reverse logistics plays a big part in showing that you don't just value their money. Simple acts like documenting your returns processes online or even including a return shipping label with your product can make a big difference in creating a good impression.
Strong partnerships make for stronger customer connections.
Now that customers have the power to pick and choose from brands around the world, companies need to do more to earn repeat business. By helping shippers build better fulfillment networks, optimize delivery speed, build custom return workflows and create transparent communication lines with their customers, the shipping experts at Worldwide Express are the bridge connecting brands to customers.
In fact, our TMS, SpeedShip®, has the tools to help you ship faster while providing in-transit insights that can help your customers. Get a small package quote today to see for yourself, and let us know if you have any questions!