Five common mistakes to avoid with delivery policies

Want to keep customers happy and grow a successful business with a good reputation? Here are five common mistakes to avoid with delivery policies.

It has been a challenging time during the lockdown for many companies. We have all had to pivot our business model to take account of social distancing and the need to work from home.

For some companies, this has meant learning to work as an eCommerce business, sending products to customers using a delivery service. 

The first sense of your success as a business will be reflected in the promptness of the delivery service.  Therefore, the policies you put in place around this final mile of your business are vital. There are lots of things that can go wrong when looking to manage deliveries.

In this article, we want to help you to avoid the five biggest mistakes that can incur such a bad impression on your customer and cost you money.

1) Getting the packaging wrong

Most of the issues you will face will be due to improper packing. Most of the time, the complaints that come from your customers will be due to damage caused by faulty packing. Even if the product inside is fine, the impression is that it has had a rough ride through the delivery service and could be in poor shape. This is an awful first impression.

Therefore, number one on the list of things to include in your delivery policy is what packaging to use with which products. It is not just the shape and size of the box or packet, but also the level of protective cushioning needed too.

If you are a sole trader, you can store the instructions about the best packaging in your memory. If you ask others to work with you, then you should clearly layout instructions in your shipping policy.

2) Insufficient shipping options

You need to be sure of who will incur the cost of any additional packaging requirements when you are setting the price point. It feels commonplace to offer free postage and packaging, but if the cost of doing this is substantial, it could really eat into your margins.

You also need to be sure that cheaper shipping options are the right choice. Affordable delivery models are not always the most efficient. You will find that most of your incoming customer service emails will be “when will my package arrive”?

Consequently, you should give your customers options. If they want free delivery and are willing to wait – excellent. However, if they want it tomorrow or in a prescribed window, you can offer this too, but the customer will have to choose to pay for this luxury.  

In scenarios like these, being aware of the overnight delivery costs and clearly communicating them to customers is essential. This not only helps in setting the right expectations but also ensures that your business can offer competitive yet profitable shipping options.

By providing the customer choice, you make it their decision to wait and not your failure as a company.

3) Failing to maintain delivery receipts

Your customer will not be expected to accept the liability for damage to the product during delivery. You, equally, do not want to incur the costs of poor courier services. Therefore, part of your policy for delivery should be the management of delivery receipts.

When passing the product to your service provider, you need to expect them to offer a receipt that states that there was no damage to the product when collected. 

Who bears the cost of such damage can quickly become a nightmare for business owners. It is not just the lost revenue but also the levels of customer dissatisfaction incurred. With the use of receipts, you can track exactly where the damage took place and then who should pay for it.

4) A lack of a transparent returns policy

Failure to have a visible and easy to access and read returns policy is one of the most common shipping mistakes. Before large-scale online shopping was a thing, the customer would only look for the terms and conditions for returning a product when something were to go wrong.

Now, savvy to problems that might occur, shoppers expect to see this policy upfront and visible before they shop.

A transparent returns policy engenders trust. It should cover details of who is responsible for damages and who will incur the costs of the return shipping. You will go a long way with your customer if you provide a return shipping label on your site that they can print. 

If you look at Amazon, you will see that they place the customer at the centre of the returns policy. They do everything they can to make the process of shopping easy and accessible to the customer. Not only does this show that they care but it also gives some comfort to people who worry that they may be wasting money.

5) A failure to communicate

Unlike shopping in person in a brick-and-mortar store, the gratification of the purchase is deferred. The customer, as soon as they press click and buy, is waiting for that moment of gratification.

If you forget to communicate simple messages like the order is received, the order is dispatched, or delivery date and time, you will find yourself bombarded with messages.

Many of these failures are to do with common courtesies and managing expectations. If you get your delivery policy right, you increase customer loyalty; get it wrong, and you will be battling the tide of resentment and poor word of mouth.

Laura McLoughlin is a Digital PR based in Armagh, Northern Ireland. She has previous experience as a website editor and journalist, and currently works with Paint Spray Tools.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz