Shipping of online purchases has come a long way since the first days of eCommerce. But as the market grows, shoppers' expectations around service follow suit. Customers expect relatively quick delivery. Unfortunately, several eCommerce shipping problems hinder store owners from meeting these expectations.
Many consumers embraced online shopping during the pandemic, and even as things return to normal, they are still incorporating it into their lives. Big eCommerce players such as Amazon have an edge in the industry and can overcome delivery problems easily, thus offering the fast delivery that customers demand.
But that only drives customer expectations even higher than ever. They expect the same to happen with all eCommerce businesses as they grow accustomed to low shipping rates and expedited deliveries. Unfortunately, overcoming the eCommerce delivery problems and offering flawless and fast shipping can be difficult due to other stumbling blocks, including cash flow issues. This article will discuss common eCommerce shipping problems and the best business solution.
The Growing Demand For Fast Shipping
There's a growing demand for fast shipping among customers. An online shopper survey reveals that 68% of consumers would place an online order if the business assured them of fast shipping. More people are now ordering same-day delivery from merchants such as Amazon.
Initially, businesses did fast deliveries for essential commodities such as groceries, but that has since changed. For instance, there was a 44% increase in online discussions regarding same-day delivery for personal care products and cosmetics between 2019 and 2020. Further, discussions related to same-day delivery of electronics increased by 321%, while those on apparel increased by 154%.
Common Shipping Problems and Solutions
Shipping delays are a common occurrence in eCommerce. Most merchants face unforeseen challenges that hinder the customer from accessing their products at the desired time after being dispatched.
The merchant has no option but to wait for the shipping partner to overcome the challenges and deliver the products. Though the shipping company might try its best to correct the problem, the customer can grow impatient and decide to move to another seller, causing the eCommerce business to lose revenue.
Suppose you experience broad shipping delays that affect a large portion of orders, for instance, due to winter storms. In that case, it is crucial to update your customers by posting on your social media channels, website, or sending an email newsletter, explaining that the hold-up was beyond your control. You can even state the regions or routes affected. If there are minor issues with the logistics concerning a single customer or a small number of orders, reach out to the shoppers personally through email as soon as possible to keep them updated.
Sending the Wrong Item
Another common eCommerce shipping problem is delivery inaccuracies. Sometimes mistakes happen even when you lay the best of plans. Sending wrong items is common, especially for eCommerce businesses delivering large orders daily. A single mismatched invoice or label can lead to the incorrect item reaching the wrong person.
If you encounter this problem, you can solve it by examining the invoice and comparing the product on it against what the customer received. You must cover the return shipping costs and give a prepaid shipping label. Further, you can appease the customer to win over their business in the future by sending an apology to their email and offering a discount on a future order.
Getting Out-of-Stock Orders
Another frustrating shipping issue that eCommerce businesses encounter is running out of stock on items that customers have already paid for. Suppose there is a delay in your system updating inventory or a rush on sales of a particular product. In that case, a customer may confirm an order for an unavailable product.
The first step is to email or call your customer and provide a quick refund. You will need to apologize to them and issue the refund quickly if they so desire. If you have a similar item, you can suggest it and offer a small discount for the inconvenience. More often than not, you are likely to earn their business. But the essential part is reaching out as quickly as possible and communicating well to offer solutions.
Shipping To Wrong Address
Delivering to the wrong address is also a significant eCommerce shipping problem. It usually happens if the customer enters the incorrect address when placing an online order.
Mistakes happen, and you'll need to follow some steps to rectify the situation and get the package to your customer. Research the order with your shipping partner, and confirm that the package was delivered to the address on file. After securing the proof of shipping, choose between sending another product or waiting until the delivered one returns to your warehouse. When you send another product, you may lose some funds upfront, but you get a chance to appease your shopper and earn their repeat business.
Wrong/Invalid Tracking Code
If your eCommerce business updates customers manually, there is a chance of issuing the wrong tracking code by mistake. The problem becomes even more of a risk if you deliver large volumes.
If a wrong tracking code problem arises, you should examine the order and its actual tracking number. After verifying your details to ensure they are correct, you can update the customer. You can inform the customer that they issuance of the incorrect tracking number due to an error. Then, provide them with the correct information and apologize for the confusion.
Damage to Items
Damaged orders are a nightmare for any eCommerce business. Everyone wants to receive a product in perfect condition. Unfortunately, you might not know whether the damage occurred before or after the package arrived.
When you encounter issues with damaged items, cover the return shipping expenses and send a new product to your customer. It preserves your relationship with the customer. Later, you can return the product to the factory for a replacement.
Best Practices for Handling Shipping Problems
eCommerce shipping issues are avoidable if you embrace some practices in your business. These include:
Working with Reliable Delivery Services
Shipping problems may occur due to reasons that are beyond your control. But sometimes, an unreliable shipping service creates errors and problems. As such, you should conduct thorough research to select the best delivery service provider before forming a working relationship with them.
Choosing the Right Packaging
Re-shipping an item due to damage incurred while in transit costs more than spending a bit more on a more robust and higher quality box or bubble wrap filler. Furthermore, you can't return the damaged product to the shelves even after re-shipping, so ensure you choose the appropriate packaging to avoid damage.
Allow a Review Step During Checkout
You can minimize the shipping to the wrong addresses problem by allowing a review step during checkout for customers to check their addresses before finalizing their orders. At this stage, they can also review other order details, such as purchased items and payment information.
Sticking to 3 or 4 Shipping Methods
Having several shipping options is excellent. Unfortunately, too many shipping methods can lead to complications and increase the chances of mistakes. It is even worse in cases where you must account for international and express deliveries. To avoid such complications, you should maintain four or fewer shipping methods.
Conducting Regular Inventory Checks
Having your inventory spread across different warehouses in various locations can lead to inventory management and shipping problems. You can speed up pick times by conducting quarterly reviews and rearranging stock. This will enable accurate storefront updates to avoid out-of-stock issues.
Creating a Double-Check Pick System
Another solution would be to deploy a double-check system in your pick, pack, and ship process. Here, you can use an address validation service to ascertain that the address exists and has been entered correctly. It may seem like an extra task, but it can help keep most picking mistakes at bay.
Using an End-To-End Shipment Monitoring Service
Sometimes parcels go missing, which can be challenging to explain to the customer. For this reason, it is essential to use an end-to-end monitoring service that allows you and the customer to track the shipment's progress. This way, both of you know where the package is at all times and can follow up in case of any glitches. Additionally, this monitoring service prepares the customer to receive their shipment as they get notified of its arrival.
Fulfillment by Amazon (Amazon FBA)
Amazon allows third-party sellers to do their business while using their established systems. Fulfillment by Amazon is a service allowing third-party sellers to automate their order fulfillment and shipping services. In short, Amazon ships your products so you can focus on selling. When enrolling in Amazon FBA, you let the eCommerce giant handle anything around delivery, including storage, picking, packing, returns, and refunds.
The company warehouses everything and processes all orders as the customers place them. This way, you can enjoy comprehensive customer support, fulfillment, shipping expenses, picking, packing, and access to a dynamic fulfillment network at a small cost. With Amazon FBA, you won't have to deal with shipping companies. Additionally, you will bid farewell to many eCommerce shipping problems.
Amazon undertakes shipping and logistics on your behalf; thus, you only need to monitor your listings. You also enjoy discounted shipping rates, seeing that they are a global fulfillment giant. Although you pay fees for the service, they are less than when you manage your delivery and fulfillment in-house. Another exciting aspect of Fulfillment by Amazon is that your products get a Prime Badge which makes them eligible for free delivery to the customer.
Best Solution to Shipping Problems
The key to solving common eCommerce shipping problems is a mitigating strategy that ensures the issues don't arise in the first place. It’s crucial to employ best practices for handling delivery problems. Similarly, Fulfillment by Amazon is an excellent solution to shipping and delivery challenges. Once you supply your products to Amazon, they'll take everything and fulfill the orders on your behalf while you focus on marketing.
However, whether shipping on your own or using fulfillment by Amazon, you need cash flow ready to purchase your inventory. Considering the long eCommerce cash cycle, you will want a reliable funding option that understands eCommerce challenges and opportunities. At Onramp Funds, we are here to help you with that. Reach out to us to get started.