Think customer order tracking is a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’ component of the post-purchase experience? Think again. 97% of shoppers expect to monitor their order throughout every step of the shipping process. Consumers also check on the progress of their packages an average of 3.5 times per order. It’s clear that order tracking isn’t something that retailers can do by halves if they want to keep their customers happy.
How does order tracking work exactly?
How customer order tracking works really depends on a number of factors – mostly down to what carriers are being used and how retailers manage carrier data. However, generally speaking, order tracking tends to follow this sequence:
1: An online order is placed and a confirmation email is sent to the customer. This typically includes the order information, customer’s name and address.
2: Once the order is processed, a tracking number will be assigned to it. This tracking number is often sent in a separate email to the customer, letting them know that their order is on the way.
3: When the parcel is about to be delivered (i.e. during ‘the last mile’), the customer is notified once again. They are generally advised of a timeframe within which their order will arrive. Sometimes, the name of the delivery driver will also be shared, and they could be given the option to arrange alternative delivery. (For example – “Robbie from (carrier’s name) will deliver your (retailer’s name) order from (date and timeframe). Won’t be in? Manage your delivery here (link to carrier website)”.
4: The customer may also receive a final email to confirm that their order has been delivered.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? However, the journey of a parcel from a warehouse to a customer’s doorstep doesn’t come without a few bumps in the road.
Common order tracking roadblocks
Order tracking enhances the customer experience, but if it isn’t managed effectively, it can cause a major headache for customers and retailers alike. The biggest order tracking challenge stems from disconnected carrier and delivery systems. So rather than having a single source of truth for knowing where their order is, customer comms may be juggled between the retailer and carrier. Why’s that a big deal, you may ask? Well, it’s problematic for many reasons.
- If carrier and delivery systems don’t speak to each other, it can be very difficult for retailers to be aware of any arising exceptions or issues. With this kind of information, brands can be proactive in making customers aware of any potential delivery delays. Without it, however, they can experience an onslaught of negative customer feedback.
- A carrier might manage all tracking-related communications to customers, but retailers still tend to receive all customer queries. 20% of all orders generate a tracking support ticket (call, email, form submission, etc.) Therefore it can take much longer to resolve WISMO queries when support teams need to cross-reference carrier and customer data.
- The formats and levels of data provided by different carriers can vary greatly. Without uniformity of data, it’s impossible to provide a consistent customer experience.
5 best practices for improving order tracking
1. Take control of all order tracking communications
The best way for retailers to achieve brand consistency throughout the delivery process is by managing all tracking comms. If a customer shops with a brand one week and chooses standard delivery from carrier X, then returns the following week and selects next-day delivery from carrier Y, they should receive the same tracking update chain of comms. When carriers manage these updates, uniformity is out the window, and this often leads to confusion.
Tracking notification emails have an average open rate of 50-80%. This presents an opportunity for retailers to include complementary products to upsell or cross-sell in their shipping updates.
2. Develop an order tracking comms strategy
When retailers have access to real-time tracking updates, they can develop a consistent delivery communication strategy even when using multiple carriers.
Having so much tracking data arms retailers with a great deal of intelligence. But just because they can send twenty shipping updates to customers doesn’t mean that they should! Therefore, they need to determine what the order tracking sweet spots are for their customers. This includes how many times a customer should be contacted, at what touchpoints should notifications be triggered, which channels should be used, etc.
3. Report, report, report
Retailers need to ensure that tracking works to their advantage just as much as it amplifies the customer experience. Regular reporting on the speed, cost, and reliability of multiple carriers (and their order tracking) should heavily inform a brand’s delivery comms strategy. It can also help retailers to identify any areas for improvement. For instance, a brand might discover that they are receiving an unusually high volume of WISMO queries on orders from a particular carrier. Off the back of this, they could decide to increase tracking notifications or remove that delivery option entirely, depending on the situation.
4. Prevention is better than cure
- Adequate order tracking relies heavily on just how efficient a retailer’s overall delivery process is. Having sophisticated order tracking won’t magically create happy customers if a brand regularly experiences dispatch delays due to dated technology, for instance. Therefore, for order tracking to really work, retailers need to have strong delivery foundations. This includes time-efficient label processing, working with the most suitable carriers on the market, and maintaining carrier connectivity.
5. Automate wherever possible
As far as effective order tracking goes, technology is a retailer’s best friend. Once a comms strategy is established, it’s time to automate. Configuring rules and triggers around shipping updates frees up valuable time and resources. Delivery automation also helps brands understand their customers better.
This, in turn, enables retailers to offer a more personalised customer experience that’s based on their behaviour and preferences. Tailored delivery options at checkout also increase the chances of first-time delivery success. Therefore, personalisation coupled with advanced order tracking is a winning formula.
A delivery management system like Scurri enables retailers to manage all carrier data from one single location. This has a profound impact on the overall customer experience but also streamlines order tracking for the retailer.
- Manual tasks such as labelling can be automated, with one template working for multiple carriers. This ensures accuracy and decreases failed deliveries. Customer and carrier systems are connected, so support teams have a complete toolbox to answer any and all WISMO queries fast.
- Powerful reporting features enable retailers to gain a 360°view of how their delivery strategy is performing.
- Order tracking is available throughout the entire customer journey. Retailers can take a proactive approach to deliveries by introducing live tracking on their customer accounts.