Shipping Seals the Customer Experience

A great deal of emphasis is placed on the customer journey in creating experiences that add value and influence satisfaction judgments. The customer journey refers to the different steps and touch points that go into a consumption experience. Design of physical spaces, employee staffing and training, and  consistency across offline, online, and mobile channels are three considerations that can determine the quality of the customer experience. However, there is one other touch point that occurs post-purchase that can make or break a positive evaluation of a consumption experience: Shipping.

Segmented Market for Shipping
Recent studies of 750 consumers and 62 major retailers by Exolevel revealed different segments in terms of how shipping is valued by consumers. Among the findings that suggest shipping can be marketed differently to various segments are that:

  • 81% of consumers said it is important for retailers to give shoppers choice of of customer pick-up or delivery regardless of payment form
  • 56% of retailers offer different fulfillment options (e.g., ship or pick-up)
  • 24% of consumers said it was important for retailers to offer same-day delivery. Among those who value same-day delivery, 30% were willing to pay $5-10 and 19% would pay $11-20 for the service.
  • 26% of retailers currently offer same-day delivery
  • 25% of consumers would be willing to wait up to two weeks for a product if there is no delivery fee.

Three customer segments emerge from these results:

  • Any way fulfillment – These buyers want the same flexibility for delivery that they enjoy in the shopping process (can shop in-store, online, or via an app). They want similar leeway in the final step of the customer journey.
  • Immediate fulfillment – Nearly one-fourth of shoppers value same-day delivery, and many of them are willing to pay a premium for that service. Marketing same-day delivery as value added convenience or offering free same-day delivery for purchases over a certain amount are two tactics that could support offering this amenity to the segment of customers interested in it.
  • Value fulfillment -Evidence points to existence of a segment whose value judgments can be perceived by free shipping given that 25% of shoppers surveyed are willing to wait for up to two weeks for a shipment if it meant paying no shipping costs. This segment prefers to put dollar expenditures into product purchase and accepts a trade off between price paid and speed of delivery.
Wrap Up the Customer Experience
Considerations for shipping strategies often key on two factors: 1) Costs and 2) Competition. While these variables are important and should not be ignored, what is missing from consideration? Or, should I say who is missing? The customer. Findings from the Exolevel consumer survey reveals that buyers are not homogeneous when it comes to their desires and expectations for shipping. Just as customers have different motivations and needs for the products they buy from you, they also differ in how they evaluate shipping in their overall experience with your business. Use shipping strategically to effectively wrap up a positive customer experience. Don’t let a satisfactory customer journey be derailed at the end because shipping options are inflexible or inconvenient.

 

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Author: Don Roy

Marketing educator, blogger, & consultant- Having fun with all of the above!

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