Over the last few years, the growth of ecommerce has seen an unprecedented surge. Between 2019 and 2022, the total number of digital shoppers worldwide grew by roughly one billion, with ecommerce sales expected to continue increasing by more than 10% globally in 2023.
With the growth of this channel, shipping has become a key factor for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and their customers. In fact, new research from UPS Capital Insurance Agency Inc. found that 90% of online shoppers say their shipping experience accounts for more than half of their online shopping experience.
Therefore, it’s critical for SMBs to understand how they can improve the shipping experience and take advantage of differentiators like predictive analytics and personalized delivery options to help deliver an exceptional customer experience (CX).
Understand the Influence of Negative Reviews
Considering that shipping has become increasingly important to online shoppers, it’s hardly a surprise that more than half (51%) of them are likely to leave a negative review on a retailer’s site if they’re not satisfied with the shipping or delivery service. And these unfavorable ratings should be a large concern, given that 91% say negative reviews influence their buying decisions.
As online merchants look to compete in an increasingly competitive landscape and a period of economic uncertainty, abating negative reviews relating to shipping should be a top priority. However, managing and resolving shipping issues can drain a company’s time and resources. Because of this, SMBs are turning to features like advanced shipping analytics to address these challenges more effectively and efficiently. Especially in today’s market, the ability to pivot in real time can make or break a bottom line — making predictive analytics not just a helpful bonus feature but a necessity.
Take Advantage of Predictive Analytics
So what is predicative analytics? At its core, predictive analytics is a form of business analytics applying machine learning and AI to large data sets to generate a predictive model for business applications. In the retail and supply chain industries, this includes getting access to real-time shipping analytics and predictive trends that help bolster the end-to-end CX. These trends should be based off both the merchant’s historical shipping data and larger data sets from similar types of businesses.
According to the same UPS Capital report, 71% of SMBs acknowledge that offering customers access to advanced shipping analytics would positively impact their CX. Consequently, 84% of SMBs expressed that they would be willing to invest in premium access to predictive analytics data to help avoid shipping issues and further improve customer satisfaction.
For SMBs looking to implement these tools, this means partnering with providers that can give them end-to-end shipment visibility and proactive shipment management. Enhanced shipment visibility driven by predictive analytics allows merchants to identify potential risks with their customers’ package ahead of time. The comprehensive nature of predictive analytics empowers businesses to anticipate and address potential issues before they occur, ensuring smoother and more reliable shipping experiences.
Other features, like multi-carrier tracking and RFID monitoring of precise locations in transit, allow customers to receive accurate, real-time updates across a variety of package handlers. Additionally, if a delivery address has a high rate of porch piracy based on historical claims data, SMBs can suggest that an alternate delivery location is preferred or that a signature is required. While these seem like small adjustments, they can make or break the CX and a customer’s perception of the brand.
Provide Customized, Differentiated Delivery Options
“Fast” and “free” shipping options have moved from a nice-to-have to a basic industry standard. Now, online shoppers are looking for more control over their shipping experience, with 87% stating that they would be more likely to shop with an SMB if they could personalize their shipping experience. Personalized options include the ability to choose the delivery speed, date or time of delivery. Other choices include offering a more sustainable shipping method or the ability to return online orders in various ways, such as an in-store drop-off, a pre-printed return label and more.
Another opportunity for SMBs to differentiate is to offer their customers the option to add insurance coverage to their order at checkout. While consumers are increasingly interested in insuring their online purchases, just over half (53%) of online shoppers report that they barely see options to insure their orders. Integrating such insurance functionality into their checkout carts will give merchants a compelling and differentiated value prop that offers their customers peace of mind and greater control of their buying experience.
Invest in the Shipping Experience for Better CX
While there are numerous factors that contribute to an SMB merchant’s reviews, the shipping experience is king. It’s crucial for SMBs to have the right resources and partners in place to provide a consistent and reliable shipping experience. And since negative reviews can be a major deterrent for potential customers, merchants need to add shipping experience to their list of considerations for improving CX.
Ryan Fannon has 13 years of work experience at industry-leading companies across the aerospace, airline and logistics industries. Currently, he serves as the Director of Product Management and User Experience for UPS Capital®, providing industry-leading shipping insurance solutions for small and medium-sized businesses and consumers. Previously at UPS, Fannon held various senior marketing manager roles spanning competitive and market intelligence, product strategy, product development and go-to-market with emphasis on B2C ecommerce and residential delivery.