Especially during holiday season—but throughout the year as well—you need to be clear with your customers about what they can expect from you during the shipping process when they make orders. After 2013’s winter shipping debacle and with further customer dissatisfaction in Amazon and other big distributors who are too big to admit mistakes, good shipping is just as important to consumers as the product itself.
Here are a few tips so that you’re telling your customers exactly what they can expect from their shipping experience with you.
Overestimate how long shipping will take
On this one, it’s better to play it safe and tell your customers how long it could take for a package to get to them. This accomplishes two things: you minimize the chances of disappointing a customer, and you make the customer happier when they receive an order before it arrives. So overestimate. Create a wide spectrum—like the standard “7-14” business days. And, if you can’t get the product there definitely within 14 days, figure out exactly when your latest delivery date will be.
Be clear about return policies
As well as being honest with your delivery date, be up-front and clear about how equipped you are to process return policies. Factors might include whether or not you conduct free shipping, how consumers should ship the product back, and how long it will take you to process the return. Do you accept returns based on wrong sizing? Do you accept returns if the consumer simply didn’t like the product?
Promise Next-Day-Shipping only when it’s certain
Next-Day-Shipping is a dangerous word to use when making promises to your customers. Often, NDS is determinate on how well FedEx of UPS can make a delivery, so be clear your customers know that you’ll be relying on services beyond your distribution to get them their product on time.
Communicate often with customers after shipping
Whether you use UPS, FedEx, a 3PL, or your own distribution services, customers ought to have access to track shipping. And this goes further than just tracking: often, a customer won’t be able to receive the product personally, or they aren’t sure whether they need to be home/at the destination, when the delivery arrives. Be clear as possible with them about the time of day they’ll arrive, if you need to be there to sign off, or any other relevant details.