When an e-commerce retailer makes a sale, they expect their logistics provider to deliver their product on-time and in perfect condition. But logistics is an imperfect system. Delays, product damages and lost products are not uncommon. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for logistics, e-commerce businesses across sectors face diverse shipping obstacles. When shipping issues arise, it can create friction between an e-commerce business and consumers. Meanwhile, customer expectations keep rising, thanks largely to Amazon Prime and the power of two-day shipping.
Let’s look at a few unrealistic expectations e-commerce owners have about logistics.
If tracking says a product should deliver in two days, we expect it to see it day after tomorrow. Sometimes though, shipping expectations are unrealistic because of everything else around us. Technology makes everything faster than ever, but shipping is never as immediate as we’d like it to be. E-commerce growth across business segments in 13 global markets has pushed up parcel volume by 48 percent. This means the USPS, FedEx and UPS are more overwhelmed than ever. Transit times that used to take two days, may now take three dues to the increased volume that carriers have to handle.
One of the biggest problems with small packages is the risk of damage in transit. Depending upon how far the product is going, it could end up going on and off multiple trucks and through multiple warehouses before it gets to its destination. As the package is moved between trucks and across conveyor belts, the risk of damage is much higher than other shipping methods. The human-error factor also plays into delivery issues as the package is shepherded through the process
Every E-Commerce Business Operates Like Amazon
Amazon Prime has changed online business forever. Customers now expect everything they order to be at their front door in two days or less. As a small e-retailer, trying to replicate Amazon’s practices isn’t realistic. Obviously, you want your customers to get their products as quickly as possible, but some things take more time if you don’t have Amazon’s capabilities.
For example, if you opened a furniture store online, you’d be hard-pressed to ship furniture around the country or around the world within a two-day window. Because of the size and awkward shapes of the product, you’d need a specialized type of transportation service. Full truckload shipping would likely be the best option for large products like furniture because you’d be paying for a semi-truck dedicated to your product and nothing else. Drivers are limited in the number of hours they can legally drive, but team drivers can alternate, so the truck is continually moving to hit tighter delivery windows. However, this adds considerable expense.
Last Mile Delivery
Again, thanks to Amazon’s fast shipping methods, last mile deliveries have become more important for e-stores as they try to keep their shipping quick and efficient. Last mile delivery is the movement of goods from a transportation hub to the final delivery destination, which is typically a personal residence. The focus of last mile logistics is to deliver items to the end user as fast as possible.
E-retailers may expect their logistics provider to comply with any and all requests, but some can end up being pretty far-fetched. Customers can ask the e-retailer to add delivery instructions to their orders to ensure smooth execution, which can be helpful, but can sometimes end up causing more issues. E-retailers need to draw the line somewhere when it comes to last mile delivery or they’re going to flood their customer service reps with unnecessary complaints about delivery. Setting expectations upfront removes the possibility of any friction throughout the shipping process between you and your customers.
Logistics can be a very fickle process that can make e-commerce retailers and customers happy or angry within the blink of an eye. Understanding how to reel in unrealistic expectations can help diffuse a stressful situation when a shipment doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Written by Heather Evans.