three Methods Manufacturers Will Must Stage Up Their E-commerce Recreation in 2021
According to new data from IBM’s US Retail Index, the pandemic has sped up the transition from traditional to online shopping by up to five years. Here are some developments businesses can expect and prepare for as we enter 2021.
The expectations of reverse logistics solutions will increase
As the e-commerce industry evolves and expands, so does the need for retailers and digital native brands to strengthen reverse logistics management. According to Dotcom Distribution’s 2020 Ecommerce Consumer Survey, 76 percent of customers said they had returned up to a quarter of their online purchases, and 56 percent said that finding that a company doesn’t have a free return policy keeps them going prevented them from making online purchases. But “free” is not the only solution.
Consumers expect quick and flexible return options, and data shows that delivery is in the best interests of sellers (so to speak). According to the USPS, the average return shipping cost to receive and process is $ 10. These costs will only increase as ecommerce sales continue to grow. Since reverse logistics costs are typically more expensive to a business than forward logistics, a crystal clear and convenient return policy needs to be in place to ensure that the receipt, replacement, and refunds of returned items are managed as efficiently as possible.
One way online retailers are making return processes more attractive is through omnichannel returns, where consumers can return online orders to conveniently located physical locations. This format was primarily implemented by the Kohl’s-Amazon partnership, but other variants have also been introduced, from pop-up return points to door-to-door pick-up to delivery to carrier hubs where labels can be printed on-site.
Regional shipping companies will continue to gain popularity
FedEx and UPS are safe bets and in most cases a necessary part of the carrier mix, but they are not always the cheapest providers. When companies protect their bottom line, they recognize the value of adding regional alternatives to their carrier mix.
The best shipping solution for a company depends on its parameters. While national airlines can deliver anywhere within the continental United States, regional airlines in a state or small region can deliver at typically less cost. For businesses with many customers in a given geographic area, regional airlines are likely to offer significant advantages. These organizations are also smaller, which makes them more flexible with pricing than their larger counterparts.
Another reason for the increasing use of regional airlines is the level of service. Since they serve a more concentrated geographic area, shipments can usually be sorted and dispatched more quickly. In addition to high on-time delivery rates, regional freight forwarders are often praised for helpful customer service and low compensation rates. And in times when national airlines are bombarded with shipments – as in the 2020 peak season – companies can divert excess shipments to regional partners who serve these congested lanes.
The personalized online shopping experience becomes even more personal
Consumers expect some level of personalization when shopping online, even if they don’t realize it. A July 2020 study by Qubit, a company that specializes in personalizing ecommerce brands, found that two out of three people expect personalized experiences from brands they’ve previously shopped with.
The possibilities for a personalized digital brand experience are endless. Examples of popular tactics include targeted advertising, coupons, and product recommendations based on previous purchases. But 2020 was the rise of video calling, and as this face-to-face format becomes increasingly popular as the communication norm across all platforms, salespeople are recognizing its value as a tool for helping, advising, and selling customer purchases. By conducting product demos, answering questions, exchanging reviews, and more, these personal concierges guide customers through an experience that is designed to build trust, loyalty, and sales.
2020 was a year of adaptation and development. Take a look at what worked and use that data to set clear, achievable goals for 2021. Focus on making decisions and improvements that will maximize the customer experience and be ready to adopt the latest trends as early as possible.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.