by Laura McLoughlin
We have all had to adapt our business models in 2020. A lot more companies are looking to deliveries as a means of keeping products flowing from the store. In particular, those in industries like beauty and haircare, and DIY have seen a real uptick in online orders as opposed to in store. However, setting up your business to work in this way is not as easy as it first appears, and there are a host of problems that can arise if you do not have the right delivery policy. Remember, the first impression of your customer service will be experienced through the package that arrives at the door and in what time frame.
Therefore, with several potential pitfalls to avoid, we offer this guide to delivery policies – helping you avoid some common mistakes.
You have no system for packaging
If you send out one or two packages a week, you can afford to go with the flow with packaging. If you are moving your business to a delivery model, you will need to carefully lay out what packaging and protective material are required for which product.
The package that arrives in the customer’s hands is the first impression of your business. If the packaging is damaged and in poor shape, this is going to make that first impression awful. Whether the product inside the box or envelope is damaged or not, the customer is going to assume it has experienced stresses along the way.
Therefore, one of the first things you should do is specify for employees what packaging is to be used with which product. While this is not part of your customer-facing delivery service policy, it is still an essential part of delivery management.
You do not maintain the shipping receipts
Again, the maintenance of shipping receipts is not something your customer may necessarily need to see written in your terms and conditions. However, if there is damage during delivery, there are going to be quibbles over who is responsible for covering the costs. Your customer will definitely not expect to pay for something that arrives damaged, and you will feel aggrieved if you have to cover the amount either.
The management of shipping receipts will allow you to track where the damage occurred and therefore, who is responsible for bearing the cost. If you hand your product to your courier in perfect condition and you have a signature declaring this, then you can narrow down where the blame lies.
You do not offer shipping options
Another issue when setting up your shipping policy is having limited options for the customer. While we would all love to provide free shipping, the cost could be prohibitive, especially if you need substantial protective packaging. You can opt for cheaper delivery services, but they are not always the most reliable and you cannot guarantee when the item will arrive. It is likely that if all you offer is free delivery, but without any set time, you will spend a lot of time answering emails about potential delivery dates.
Consequently, you may want to offer this free option, but you may also want to provide a faster delivery service and one that can be guaranteed in a set window. You would obviously offer this premium delivery at a price, and it is up to the customer to opt into this. This choice to pay for the delivery means that the customer expresses the desire to receive the item quicker. If they take the free option, then they also recognise that they choose to wait and deal with any frustrations.
An inadequate returns policy
One of the downsides of more significant online shopping is a much more demanding customer base. Before, the consumer may have been happy to read the returns policy terms and conditions when and if required. However, now that people are using online stores more, they expect to know your returns policy upfront. For some, a successful returns policy is essential to try your site.
Therefore, you need to advertise from the start how you deal with returns, putting your customer at the centre of this policy. For instance, you may want to have a printable returns label on your site, or a dedicated administrative arm of your company focused on returns.
The more expensive your product, the more open you will need to be to return your product. It takes a lot of trust to commit to paying online and so you need to help people believe that this money won’t be wasted.
No policy about communication
Finally, you need to write into your procedures your policy for communication. Your consumer is deferring gratification in their choice to buy online. Therefore, you need to let them know that the order has been received, then dispatched and, if you can, an expected day for delivery. The more proactive you are in this communication, the more likely you are going to maintain a loyal clientele.
Laura McLoughlin is a Digital PR with past experience as a website editor and writer. Away from the keyboard, you can find her binging nature documentaries and dreaming up travel plans. Laura works with Glaze Digital in Northern Ireland.