Shipping may be the final part of the retail experience, but it is often the one that consumers base their overall experience upon. A bad experience with retail shipping can overshadow great products and reasonable pricing. Shipping issues can also cost retailers time and money by increasing budget expenditures and creating more work overall. The modern-day supply chain network relies on fast and affordable shipping solutions for retail customers. Here are seven best practices that retailers can follow to aid in optimizing shipping.
Many online shoppers believe order-tracking updates and information sharing is an essential service that they expect to receive once they have placed an order. Enabling customers to see where their package is, where it is heading next, and the expected outcomes are important retail shipping features. Giving customers access to a range of package tracking options ensures everyone stays on the same page. Additionally, those notifications can be applied by network partners to avoid missed pickups and reduce delays too. Keeping everyone on the same page also applies to data and ensuring the data is readily accessible within an overarching platform like Intelligent Audit.
Most consumers have come to expect — even demand — at least an estimated delivery time when checking out. This may seem like a commonsense move, but it is something that many online stores are still missing. Retail shipping estimates from carriers help consumers make intelligent purchases and plan future purchases more effectively. It also allows for better customer service by keeping expectations and realities more evenly balanced during shipping. And that further empowers shippers with a real-time exception management strategy that can help identify problems, address them in real-time, and avoid delays.
Most consumers expect some form of same- or next-day shipping. These days, the idea of free shipping or expedited shipping options is also the norm rather than the exception. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, it is vital for companies today to realize and accept the fact that many of the new shipping and consumer experience models are here to stay. Services such as contactless delivery, buy online/pick up in-store, custom delivery dates, and last-mile delivery remain in high demand. Of course, it all depends on the ability of shippers to use data to identify which shipments can be delivered faster or slower based on mode, which can lower costs, improve profitability and boost customer experiences. Again, it's all about keeping costs under control while meeting the customers' expectations.
Green options for retail shipping continue to gain popularity among consumers today. The emphasis on sustainability and environmental impact represents causes that more and more people focus their attention toward. This focus translates into a call for more sustainable options when it comes to shipping, such as ground shipping, using regional carriers or leveraging zone skipping. Many consumers are willing to pay extra for regional shipping that reduces waste, lowers carbon emissions, or reduces environmental impacts. Even if that means an extended shipping timeline.
The best process for improved order fulfillment means knowing how to approach every order and how that will affect each location. Some locations may be well-suited to fulfill online orders; others may need to maintain a more strict, in-store-only purchase policy. It all depends on the unique needs and capabilities of your network. Regardless, improved use of technology and integrated systems can go a long way toward reducing such issues and creating clear, concise workflows to fulfill all orders despite differences in location.
Retail shipping is complex, and its costs can quickly skyrocket. Rather than simply waiting on the invoices to come in, today's shippers need to track all costs with advanced data shipping analytics. That includes using a platform that can ingest data from all shipping modes that is cleansed, normalized, and displayed in a platform to provide information that allows retailers to make decisions to keep costs down, use carriers with high service level scores, and meet delivery speed expectations. After all, data in its raw form lacks value and adds to confusion within the network. Normalized data that is then analyzed to offer rich, actionable insights enables companies to compare apples to apples and improve overall transportation spend management practices, keeping total shipping and related costs in check.
One vital part of retail shipping management remains to ensure shipping-related payments and expenses stay operational. It is far better to work with a bank to deliver carrier payments rather than negotiating payments in a third-party system. Secured transactions expedite payment transfers while also providing consistent services to all involved parties. It also affords greater peace of mind among supply chain leaders when dealing with financial transactions.
Managing retail shipping services can quickly grow into a complex and multifaceted process. Providing multiple shipping options, analytical tracking, and real-time customer service can add to the overall expenses getting managed. However, it is possible to provide all these in-demand services and more while staying within budget. The solution to the modern transportation and shipping dilemma is automated data tracking and analytics solutions, so take the first step today. Contact Intelligent Audit to learn more.
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Auditing a freight invoice is a critical function to help companies prioritize transportation spend and save money. Learn more now.