Customers want near-instant deliveries from retailers. In fact, 70% would pay extra for options like one-hour or same-day delivery.
This need for speed puts retailers under a lot of pressure. Once a customer places an order, it’s a race against the clock to process the transaction, check the inventory, pack the box, ship off the order, and hopefully, the items get it to the customer on time. The problem is, several things can go wrong along the way.
In a recent survey, 87% of retail professionals said that inaccurate inventories account for more revenue loss than theft. And with retailers selling across multiple platforms and managing overwhelming order volumes, not having a reliable inventory system can cause problems like overselling.
Customers choose to order online because it’s easy and convenient. But that’s not the case if they place an order, pay for it, and find out later that an item is out of stock, discontinued, or not deliverable to their area. This is the kind of information shoppers want to know before they add items to their virtual carts. If retailers deliver bad news after the fact, retail employees have to issue refunds and deal with unhappy customers.
Packaging and order fulfillment errors
When retailers are balancing a large volume of orders, mistakes are bound to happen. And some of these errors prevent customers from getting what they ordered in the condition they ordered it in:
- The wrong item or quantity of items in the package
- The package is missing an item or items
- Improper or insufficient packaging causes product damage
- An already damaged product is mistakenly shipped
Once a package is on the road to its destination, it becomes vulnerable to even more unfortunate events.
We’ve come a long way in package tracking, but it’s far from perfect. A missed scan somewhere could lead the customer to believe there’s a delivery delay. Or there may be times when tracking information shows an item as “delivered,” yet it’s still in a warehouse or on a truck somewhere. Perhaps the customer received tracking information for the wrong order. All these instances can be particularly stressful for customers who plan their schedules around their deliveries.
If an address verification is incorrect or a courier misreads a label, a package could end up at the wrong house. In the best case scenario, the items end up with a kind neighbor who will redirect it. But couriers may also return packages with address errors without attempting delivery at all.
Unforeseen route obstacles
Drivers can experience delays due to circumstances like slow traffic, road closures, or difficult drop-offs.
Loss and damage
Even with excellent packaging, there’s always the risk of item loss or damage while in transit. Traffic accidents, driver errors, and other unexpected circumstances can prevent packages from arriving safely. The risk increases with oversized items. In fact, 21% of surveyed customers reported damage among larger items last year. What’s more, 15% said their bulky package never arrived.
Even if a package does survive the journey to its recipient’s doorstep, it’s not in the clear yet. Unless a courier hands a parcel directly to a recipient or drops it in a secure location, the items could be a target for theft. The problem is more common than you might think — nearly 25% of Americans have fallen victim to package theft, and half know someone who has. And, of course, package theft leads to a loss for the retailer in the form of shipping costs, refunds, or replacements.
Fortunately, BOPIS (or buy online, pick up in-store) is becoming a popular order fulfillment solution. A recent survey found that 68% of shoppers made multiple click-and-collect purchases, and 50% chose to purchase from online retailers based on in-store pick-up availability. BOPIS options are a great way to ensure customers receive their orders in excellent condition, without the risks and hassles of shipping.
To add even more time-saving and security to your retail business, check out Smiota’s smart package lockers.
Related reading: Unbeatable Benefits of Smart Package Lockers for Retail Stores