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We have grown accustomed to living in a world where shopping online and speedy deliveries are the norm. Today, due to the coronavirus crisis, online shopping and delivery are more in-demand than anyone could have ever predicted. The quarantine and shelter-in-place mandates have put a spotlight on the need for streamlined operations. There has never been a time in recent history where efficient logistics are more critically needed. 

Under normal circumstances, Amazon would be ready for the challenge. Since its inception, the company has drastically altered consumer shipping expectations. And, they’ve consistently been able to grab the lion’s share of the U.S. e-commerce market year after year – accounting for 49% of the total in 2018.  

Recently, however, Amazon announced that it would no longer accept products other than medical supplies and household staples to its warehouses amid the coronavirus crisis. Orders placed on the website are now taking a month or more to arrive – even for Prime members. 

As a small business owner, the time to plan your online game is right now. Consumer shipping expectations have radically changed in the current climate where shipping and delivery are no longer a luxury but, to some, a sheer necessity – and you can give them what they need.

If your business can offer customers choice, focus on building a better experience, and partner up with the right people, this is your time to shine.

Shipping Services: Free Vs. Fast

Quick. Convenient. They’re real customer shipping expectations. Here’s another word in play: free. A study by Internet Retailer and Bizrate Insights found that of the individuals surveyed, 50.2% would be willing to wait longer for products in favor of free shipping. Make sure free shipping is displayed prominently throughout your site. 

Free shipping tops fast shipping, but consumers don’t want to wait too much longer. Providing expedited shipping, even at a slightly higher cost, gives consumers the power to choose. 

Building a Better Customer Experience 

Leverage the experience customers have when shopping with you – sometimes, that’s all that matters. It’s of the utmost importance to keep your promises on point. If items aren’t delivered when expected, customers will shop elsewhere. 

Here are some ways to improve the delivery experience:  

Make sure tracking comes standard. In addition to the purchase confirmation email, send an email when items have shipped with the anticipated date of delivery. 

Provide frequent updates should the estimated date of delivery change. If delivery is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances like weather or some other unexpected event, be sure to include that information in an email alert so customers understand why. 

If delivery should go awry but not due to circumstances out of your control, offer a full or partial refund of the shipping cost. 

Offer text alerts as an option, so customers can choose to opt-in if they’d like. 

Third-party Fulfillment Benefits Businesses and Consumers 

Getting a warehouse up and running takes valuable time and focus away from your business. Plus, carriers like FedEx and UPS don’t automatically discount their services – you have to be ready to negotiate. 

Bringing an experienced third-party fulfillment partner onboard has become one of the main ways to compete with larger retailers like Amazon, continue to offer customers choice, and still turn a decent profit. 

Provided their professionalism and focus match yours, partnering up means you can focus on the sales experience and rest assured that they have the rest of your customer’s experience – the delivery – covered. They provide the benefit of already negotiated carrier rates and sometimes utilize their own fleet. Third-party providers assist with warehousing too – alerting you to when it’s time to restock and offering the latest in technology. 

Customers are relying on smooth online shopping and delivery now more than ever. It’s become a critical make-or-break part of their experience. When you need an expert and knowledgeable third-party fulfillment provider to step up to the plate and rise to the occasion, look no further than Gorgo Group. Gorgo Group has been providing exceptional service and peace of mind for our partners since 1979.

Reach out today to learn more about how partnering with a reliable fulfillment provider can help your business get – and stay – more competitive.