Following the 2015 Europe 500 ranking, Europe is the second biggest e-commerce market in the world, after China and ahead of the U.S.A. One of the key factors for customers to choose an e-retailer rather than another is the shipping options available, which are strictly linked to price, speed and return options.
That is why shipping is more strategic than ever for e-retailers. How can retailers make sure the delivery services they propose are profitable and take into consideration cutomers’ needs and expectations?
As one single company, Amazon, becomes an increasingly dominant force in retail — Amazon enjoyed nearly 25 percent of all retail sales growth last year — the time has come for every retailer, large or small, to re-examine its logistics processes in order to keep up with the pack or, better yet, move ahead. Long before Amazon came on the scene, Walmart was the iconic American retailer. (…) Today, Walmart is still flexing its competitive muscle, investing heavily in its online business to compete directly with Amazon and other omni-channel retailers. (…) In order to compete in this new age of ecommerce, retailers large and small are wondering whether to take a page from the Amazon playbook or try a different, unique, more tailored approach. (…) As omni-channel players struggle to evolve their logistics practices, here are four recommendations to stay competitive in today’s crowded retail environment.
1. Focus on customer experience
The reason Amazon Prime is so successful is it considers the total customer experience. (…) Amazon Prime is seamless and attractive, making the purchase process easy, reliable and fun. Takeaway: develop a holistic customer experience that is unique to your brand.
2. Unify distribution solutions into a single program
Walmart is starting to offer great new services like curb-side grocery pickup and local grocery delivery, but each Walmart program is marketed separately. Instead, create an umbrella program with options that make it easy for customers to buy from you — and receive their purchases when, where and the way they want them.
3. Capitalize on local returns
Physical locations offer a major competitive advantage that pure-play ecommerce brands can’t take advantage of — the ability to accept in-store returns. Last year, Nordstrom Rack began accepting returns in-store for items purchased online at HauteLook, a flash sale site it owns, and nordstromrack.com. The result was one million more trips to Nordstrom Rack stores in 2014 — each providing another sales opportunity for the company. Remember, every interaction with a customer is a selling opportunity. Make returns and tracking part of your sales strategy.
4. Embrace the local community
A staggering 90 percent of the U.S. population lives within 15 miles of a Walmart store and 70 percent within 5 miles. This represents an enormous opportunity for the company to build an efficient local delivery model, serving both online and phone order customers, where inventory can be delivered quickly and easily — as it does in its grocery deliveries.
(…) Far from being an Achilles’ heel, effective shipping and logistics can be turned into a competitive advantage that will delight customers and boost profit margins. In today’s Amazon-dominated ecommerce environment, the key to planning a successful shipping strategy isn’t just to imitate — but innovate.