The questions are the good old “When?”, “Where?” and “How?”. Not too exciting, it may seem, at least not on the surface. But it’s time to examine them a bit more closely, because consumers are starting to care more and more about the answers:
- When can I have it delivered?
- Where can I get it delivered?
- How will it be delivered?
“These questions are playing a big part in the new smoooth era of e-commerce,” says Rasmus Fahlander, director of purchase experience at Klarna.
The transactional era came first. In the first place, it was simply about being able to shop online.
Then came the conversion era – and it’s still very much in focus. Great effort goes into optimising every step of the customer journey, removing friction, and increasing the efficiency of every phase of the sales funnel so that clicks and visits turn into sales, and cart abandonment diminishes.
“Now that it’s starting to become the norm to have a store that is optimised for high conversion, it’s time to enter the next phase. In the smoooth era, shopping flows are transcending conversion-optimisation, leading to more emotional shopping experiences. That’s how you build loyalty and customer retention,” says Rasmus Fahlander.
In other words, as soon as consumers get used to quick and easy checkouts, they start to expect more from their shopping experience; a ‘wow’ factor.
Who will win in the years ahead?
When it comes to creating awesome shopping experiences that inspire consumers to come back, one of the most critical elements to consider is “the last mile”. You need to be able to provide clarity when it comes to questions like:
- When can I have it delivered? (Can I have it tomorrow before 8 am? Actually, I’d like to have the delivery between 6 and 7 pm on the day after tomorrow, because I won’t be home tomorrow.).
- Where can I get it delivered? (Home? To work? To my friend I’m visiting? To any pickup-place?)
- How will it be delivered? (Can they leave it at my door? Can I trust them to enter my apartment? Is my preferred delivery company available?)
As you know, there are more and more shipping and delivery solutions entering the market that satisfy the needs of consumers. Swedish Budbee uses AI technology to predict delivery times down to the minute and provides an app where consumers can ask for things like “Please knock quietly when you arrive because my baby girl is sleeping”. Instabox makes picking up packages on the way home from work easier, and Glue Lock is a digital lock solution where consumers can give delivery personnel temporary access to their homes.
“The merchants who will come out on top in the years ahead are those who have a sophisticated range of integrated delivery products and present the delivery options in a way that allows the consumer to be in control over when, where and how their purchases are delivered,” says Rasmus Fahlander.
However, if you want to create shipping experiences that build retention and strengthen your brand, it’s not enough to just develop an elaborate backend transport management system.
“Logistics can be tremendously complicated, but however you implement it all, you don’t want customers to have to deal with any of that complexity. They want to be in control of their options, sure, but not to a point where they feel overwhelmed. Therefore presentation is very important. As soon as they arrive at your store, consumers should be able to quickly see whether their preferred shipping method is available. But they should also be able to make changes that best fit their needs, without feeling overwhelmed.”
When done right, it takes just seconds to select payment and shipping options, on a single page, during checkout, creating a truly smooth shopping experience.
“The best user experience is one that doesn’t exist. You don’t want payment and shipping processes to stand in the way of the shopping experience, says Fahlander.
Expectations are changing
In a world of e-commerce where one can shop anywhere, shipping and delivery are increasingly important. Consumers will be emotionally drawn to merchants that give them a smoooth shopping experience, all the way.
“Can you give your customers a better experience? If you can, you have a clear advantage over your competition,” says Rasmus Fahlander.
Expectations change over time. Remember, a few years ago none of us expected a webpage to load instantly, we were fine waiting a few seconds. Now, the same site is considered “slow” if that happens, and we might become impatient and leave. A few years ago consumers generally placed their online orders on a desktop or laptop computer, whereas now they get irritated if websites’ checkouts aren’t mobile friendly or ask them to spend 2-3 minutes filling out forms before a purchase can be completed. A few years ago it was a miracle if a home delivery actually made it to the shopper’s home in time. These days, consumers expect online stores to have flexible shipping solutions that fit their individual needs.
“Being able to choose a pickup point or home delivery is just meeting basic expectations today. Many consumers are also getting used to having their preferred payment and delivery choices preselected and visible as soon as they land on your site,” says Rasmus Fahlander, director of purchase experience at Klarna.