How to Deliver on Customer Expectations During the Holidays

When it comes to the time between buying something online and getting it in the customer’s hands, how fast is fast enough? According to Deloitte, 42% of consumers today still consider 3 to 4 days “fast shipping”. This is good news for retailers trying to keep up with Amazon’s fast & free benchmark of 2-day Prime Shipping. The sheer volume of orders during the biggest shopping weekend of the year, however, still puts an unprecedented strain on retail operations to keep up with customer expectations. “Transit Tuesday” is what we’ve dubbed the day after Cyber Monday, when the majority of packages from the multi-billion dollar weekend start getting shipped out.

Transit Tuesday - Package Volume
Don’t let Transit Tuesday turn into WISMO Week.

Here at Narvar we’ve seen strong evidence that anything over a week from order to delivery is too long. Starting around the 7-day mark, customer sentiment around the shipping experience (measured by a feedback score up to 5 stars) goes down, while support contacts go up. Consumers get impatient at that point, regardless of whether it’s during the holiday shopping season or the rest of the year. But since consumers are more likely to experiment with different retailers at the holidays, it’s even more critical to make a good first impression to win continued business.

Transit Tuesday - Customer Sentiment vs Support Calls

What can you do?

  • Get the package into your customer’s hands within a week. It doesn’t need to be within 2 days, so incremental improvements in your supply chain could be all it will take to keep your customers happy. Balancing warehouse staffing and processes with shipping speed can get you there.
  • Manage expectations. The most important thing is simply to give customers an accurate delivery date when they place the order. If there are certain products, inventory management issues or other factors which will require a longer transit time, let them know up front. Unforeseen delays? Tell your customer as soon as possible. They will appreciate the transparency.

More good news

If you’re sending branded tracking information, there is still opportunity to communicate with customers in that channel at the height of shopping frenzy. Despite doing so at a much lower CTR than the rest of the year, about 2.5% of them are clicking on marketing assets on tracking pages in peak season. Remember, these are customers who have just converted and haven’t even received their package yet. If you are able to meet their expectations for on-time package delivery, they will be open to buying even more from you. Better yet, use that opportunity to highlight in-store events and services, or charitable partnerships which resonate especially with millennials.Don’t let Transit Tuesday turn into WISMO ("Where is My Order") Week - or at least keep shoppers informed of accurate delivery dates - and you’ll receive the gift of new and loyal customers.

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