With delivery and returns one of the biggest challenges when expanding overseas, how does the use of a delivery management platform help?The 21st century shopper is a world away from those willing to wait five to seven working days for their online purchases to arrive, regardless of where they are in the world. Ecommerce retailers face massive pressure to make their delivery options the best they can possibly be. And it’s the customer that controls and dictates when and where they want their parcels delivered.
Delivery has become a key battleground for differentiation. Competition for ecommerce market share is fierce and abandonment rates, for those that don’t offer the right options or don’t make it easy for shoppers, are staggeringly high.
It’s not easy to keep delighting your customers. But can you really afford to lose out on delivery? Delivery management platforms (DMP) enable ecommerce businesses to make the right decisions on every single delivery and help them scale their businesses quickly when they want to expand overseas.
Retailers need to offer multiple delivery options that take into account everything from the shape and size of the parcel to the location and demographic of the customer. But this is time consuming and drags the focus away from the core business of selling.
A DMP speeds up the whole process. Ecommerce retailers can integrate their own carrier agreements into a single platform, or use the DMP provider to find and negotiate new contracts with everyone from local specialists to international carrier groups.
It’s much easier to become international with a DMP. For one thing, retailers don’t need to find international tax and customs experts – relevant documents are automatically created and printed. They can also offer exactly the same choice of costs and delivery speeds internationally as they would to UK customers.
A DMP should take into account all local customs, such as a preference for pick up locations in Poland, so that they’re offering the right choices for customers. That protects your brand and encourages repeat custom.
It should also make the best possible decisions about which carrier to employ for each delivery. This is based on set criteria pre-determined by the retailer and the DMP provider and can take into account anything from dimensions to destination. Labels are then automatically generated, saving time and removing the risk of human error.
Managing returns is now a huge piece of the jigsaw. If your returns policy isn’t easy and reliable then you might lose the initial sale. Fashion retailers are especially conscious of this – appreciating that, even though they have to deal with lots of returns, they need to make the process as seamless as possible because it’s a key part of their sales strategy.
A DMP can help with everything from generating returns labels to providing a global returns portal with multi-lingual, multi-currency functionality that offers free or paid returns right down to single item level. Again, this is all based on the retailer’s pre-defined set of business rules.
Retailers can also save a substantial amount on their delivery charges depending on which DMP provider they use – especially if they can access the provider’s aggregated rates to benefit from their bulk purchasing power which really comes into its own for shopping overseas.
There are a number of DMPs out there but integration times and usability can be a sticking point. An out-of-the-box solution can shave months off installation meaning you’re seeing return on investment much earlier. But that doesn’t mean that the technology shouldn’t be robust and future-proof – this is business critical stuff after all.
DMPs make you more accountable to customers. Customer service teams can simply log-in to find out where each parcel is. However you should beware that your chosen DMP doesn’t use different language for different carriers since this is confusing for both staff and customers. Everything should be presented in one consistent and easy to understand format – regardless of which carrier you’re using for the consignment.
Tracking information can also be passed directly onto consumers by email, effectively empowering retailers to empower their customers – which is ultimately what the 21st century shopper wants. For a retailer then the use of a Delivery Management Platform really can make international expansion easier.
Andy Hill, Commercial Directorwww.electiodelivers.com