The eCommerce industry has experienced exponential growth over the past two years. In the UK alone, online shopping increased five-fold in 2020, and consumers have largely adopted the shopping habits they formed during the pandemic for the foreseeable future. Even in the best of circumstances, this kind of boom would have put the supply chain under pressure. However, the reality that merchants have found themselves in has been anything but ideal. The Suez Canal blockage, China factory workers strike, delivery driver shortage, and Brexit have thrown a supersized spanner in the works, making it increasingly difficult for brands without an extensive delivery partner network to operate efficiently, and provide a seamless customer experience.
So as the power is continuing to shift from merchants to suppliers and carriers, it leaves retailers in a potentially vulnerable situation. If carriers reach capacity thresholds, the concern for small to medium businesses is that their carrier of choice may not be able to continue offering the same level of service as they did before the shipping crisis. What if carriers start picking and choosing the merchants that they work with? Are we about to see carrier rates increase? Will brands still be able to offer their customers multiple delivery options, or will they be limited in the type of delivery experience that they can provide, giving competitors the upper hand?
Clearly, there’s a lot at stake for retailers, here. 94% of shoppers would choose a different shop or brand based on the delivery or collection options available. So it’s no longer good enough to provide shoppers with a top-notch browsing and purchasing experience. Brand experience needs to continue all the way to the doorbell – and there are three ways that retailers can achieve this in the midst of the current shipping crisis:
1 – Develop a strong relationship with your existing carrier(s)
2 – Ensure that you have an extensive delivery partner network
3 – Use technology to futureproof your delivery strategy
A Two-Way Street
Merchant-carrier relationships are a two-way street. In order for retailers to get the most out of their carrier partner services, they need to hold up their end of the bargain. That means making pickups as seamless as possible. Making sure that carriers can get in and out of your facility quickly and easily. Ensuring that invoices are paid on time. It also means troubleshooting in a productive way – not passing blame back and forth when failed deliveries happen (which they inevitably always will), but instead working together to tackle ongoing issues.
And this is exactly where technology comes in. As the shipping challenges that merchants are currently experiencing aren’t going to be fixed overnight, utilising technology is arguably the best way for retailers to protect their existing delivery strategy and have the ability to adapt quickly in this ever-changing industry. As important as it is to develop a lasting partnership with your carrier, it’s also wise to not have all of your eggs in one basket. The brands that have a solid delivery strategy are the ones with access to a delivery partner network. Having a multi-carrier shipping solution means shipping to customers using the most cost-effective carrier based on order destination. What’s more, is that if for any unforeseen circumstance one carrier cannot deliver orders, another can easily be used. Remember how important it is to give customers options around deliveries. It’s just as important for retailers to have flexible delivery options.
Next stop, data. These days it may seem like data is the solution to everything, but it’s for good reason. Data really does have the power to help merchants strengthen their relationships with carriers. Why? Because when retailers manage to bridge carrier data with their own, customer service is streamlined. Carrier and customer systems work together, meaning that customers can easily access tracking information through the merchant, and customer support teams shouldn’t need to spend an unnecessary amount of time consulting with carriers over order statuses. And that is something that is very attractive to carriers if and when they reach capacity and need to evaluate their merchant relationships.
While the eCommerce industry has experienced this shift to a ‘carriers’ market’, brands and retailers shouldn’t need to feel at-risk when it comes to their delivery offering. Instead, it should be viewed as an opportunity to improve it.
With Scurri, merchants can ship to anywhere in the world by accessing our global and national network of carriers. All carriers can be easily managed, and users can choose the best carrier for each shipping address. Our advanced reporting suite helps merchants improve efficiencies, while our API integrations to power your existing tools, or integrate directly with your industry’s most popular carriers and platforms.
Michelle McSweeney Content Marketer