What do online store customers expect in terms of logistics & shipping?

Customer expectations in e-commerce - what store operators must achieve
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Kundenerwartungen im E-Commerce – was Shopbetreiber leisten müssen

The e-commerce industry is growing from year to year and more and more people are enthusiastic about online shopping. There is a reason for this: it works. The processes and workflows - from order acceptance to dispatch, logistics and the return management - have reached a high level of quality and also meet the high demands of customers. But what exactly are these, what do customers expect today and how can online shops meet the ever-increasing demands in the future?

Different buying habits - equally high expectations

The buyer groups who shop in online shops on a daily basis are just as diverse as the shopping offerings on the Internet. While some are regular and enthusiastic online shoppers who make almost all purchases on the Internet, others are more selective and give preference to on-site shopping in certain product groups. And there are still people who are reluctant to shop online. In the Study "E-Commerce Guide" of the research institute ibi research at the University of Regensburg from the year 2017, these three groups of buyers and their needs were examined more closely.

According to the results, regular online shoppers accounted for the largest share with around 55 percent, 34 percent of respondents described themselves as selective online shoppers and 11 percent classified themselves as traditional retail shoppers. The average amount of money spent monthly on Internet purchases is 107 euros across all sexes. Furthermore, the study dealt with the most important criteria and requirements of the buyers who make purchases in an online shop.

The four most important among them are:

  • Product quality
  • Meaningful product description
  • price level
  • Transparent and simple returns processing

What shop operators are asked to do

It is not surprising that product quality is the most important criterion for customers - after all, nobody wants to waste time and money on a product of inferior quality and have to look for a better alternative afterwards. It is therefore up to the shop operator himself to strive for the best possible quality of his offers or his self-manufactured products and to guarantee this throughout.

And since online shopping is also based on trust, customers also want to know what exactly they are buying and attach great importance to a detailed description of the articles offered. Retailers who are active in the e-commerce sector can clearly distinguish themselves from the grey mass of suppliers with individual, detailed product descriptions, most of whom use formulations from the manufacturers' catalogues. On the other hand, individual description texts are more time-consuming.

As far as the price is concerned, the Internet and the numerous online shops naturally offer plenty of opportunities for comparison. A particularly low purchase price for a product alone is by no means a guarantee for business success if the overall package of services offered by the web shop is not consistent. But how much price flexibility an online retailer can or would like to allow himself in the end depends on individual factors.

One component that shop operators often underestimate is the processing of returns. In a European comparison, the percentage return rate in this country is highest on average at 16 percent. According to the study mentioned, every fifth item in the buyer group that buys quite rarely online is even returned. Depending on the industry, the returns rate can be well over 50 percent. A smooth and convenient return, however, can convince a classic retail buyer and turn him into at least one selective buyer in the medium to long term. By the way: 39 percent of all respondents to the study stated that they had already cancelled an order because no free returns were offered.

The customer expectations in shipping

The dispatch, respectively the optimal one Shipping-processing, is an essential element in online trade, which decides on success or failure. When it comes to customer requirements regarding shipping, delivery time is one of the most important criteria. It should be in the interest of every shop operator to achieve the absolute minimum of reliability: adherence to the announced delivery date. Every delay causes disappointment for the online customer. Another factor that is particularly important for regular buyers is the amount of shipping costs. In the case of frequent orders, the lower they are, the less significant they are.

How Shop Operators Can Meet Customer Expectations

As an online retailer you can take many things into your own hands: You can take care of the quality of goods, find new sources of supply, improve the quality of self-manufactured products and optimise the presentation and description of articles in the online shop. The goal of every shop operator and of course of all other retailers outside e-commerce should be to dedicate themselves entirely to their core business and to organize all processes in the best possible way. Finally quality and exact descriptions are the Top criteria, on which the customers in the net attach great importance. However, this presupposes that the shop operator also has sufficient time or operational capacity to do so. So if you also have to take care of storage, packaging, picking, shipping and returns, the time, personnel and financial limits are quickly reached. In any case, qualitative progress cannot be achieved in this way.

More and more online retailers, on the other hand, are benefiting from the flexibility of outsourcing in terms of storage, dispatch processing and logistics. Because on the one hand Fulfillment service provider they have the necessary storage capacities at their disposal, which are designed for a high number of hits in terms of infrastructure.

Why Fulfillment is especially worthwhile in E-Commerce, is obvious:

  • Startups as well as established online shops are no longer dependent on their own storage space.
  • Thanks to the shop connection via interface with the fulfillment service provider, dispatch processing can begin here immediately after receipt of the order.
  • Perfectly coordinated workflows and processes at the outsourcing partner guarantee an efficiency that would be almost impossible to achieve on your own - from storage through to order-picking right up to dispatch processing
  • Fulfillment service providers often have the necessary certifications and special storage space required to handle certain products, e.g. dangerous goods, goods to be cooled, medicines or Bio-products.
  • Thanks to the time and cost savings through outsourcing, capacities are freed up in the company, which can now be used to improve and further develop the range of goods, the company's own products and much more.

When it comes to the most important customer expectations in e-commerce, this type of division of tasks is certainly one of the most sensible. After all, a shop operator knows
The philosophy and the demands on their own work and quality themselves are best, while fulfillment providers understand their profession of storage, packaging, dispatch processing, returns & Co. like no other.

All kinds of processes can be optimized by external partners, but the core business is and remains the soul of a company - whether online shop, wholesaler, sales branch or product manufacturer.

Mike Schubert und Raimund Bergler

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