You’ve had your company for a while now and business has been good, but you know it can be better. You’re pouring cash into third-party delivery companies to deliver your goods to local customers, but it’s getting expensive and starting to feel impersonal.
To gain a competitive edge, start your own home delivery service for your business. Offering in-house delivery means providing a higher level of personalized customer service for your customers. Happier customers means you can attract more business, reduce costs, and increase your revenue. Even if you have an established in-house delivery program, taking that system from good to great is a straightforward way to jumpstart plateauing revenue and customer reviews.
Knowing what makes a great delivery experience is your first step.
Small business delivery versus Amazon delivery
Consumers have high expectations from your business. The Amazon’s of the world have set the bar extremely high, especially when it comes to their shipping and delivery services. One survey found that up to 89% of people are more likely to buy from Amazon than other sites. In a world where consumers can get their products delivered the same or next day, your business needs to compete with these expectations or risk going out of business.
You can compete with the ‘big guys’, even with a more modest, small business budget. Aside from providing on-time deliveries, the customer experience you create by handling your own local deliveries might just convince someone to buy from you and not from Amazon or your competitors.
What makes an exceptional customer experience?
Big corporations like Amazon are offering same-day or one-day delivery to many large cities, and while you may not be able to match their speed exactly, when you add on a stellar customer experience, you make it worthwhile. Customer service is part of what makes a great delivery experience.
Based on the findings in the State of the Connected Customer report by Salesforce, here’s what customers are expecting from your business:
- Know their needs: 76% of consumers expect you to understand their needs and expectations. They expect you to have an easy-to-use online ordering system where they can order, pay, and arrange for delivery of their purchases without having to contact a help desk for support. If you don’t, your potential customer will find another business that gives them what they want.
- Customized service: This means being part of the end-to-end solution to get products to customers without needing to outsource deliveries to a shipping company. Along the way, they want to be kept up-to-date on the status of their order (SMS and email notifications are popular channels for this). If you don’t, they will turn to a competitor that provides a more personalized experience.
- Amazon-like buying experiences: 69% of those surveyed expect your business to provide the same level of personalized and efficient service as Amazon. If you don’t, your potential customers will spend their money with Amazon instead. This means a transparent fulfillment and delivery service with email, phone, or text notifications at each step of the process.
- Good reviews: 62% of consumers are more likely to share bad experiences with others than good ones. This affects your brand when people are comparison shopping online (which we know they do because we do it too). To counter any “bad press” that may end up on your reviews page, personally reach out to your most loyal customers and ask them to write you a review online. If you don’t have enough positive reviews, consumers won’t trust you enough to take a chance on your product or delivery service.
What are the key elements of a great delivery experience?
You’re aiming to elevate your customer service with your in-house, local delivery service. There are several key elements to make a great delivery experience:
1. Automated customer notifications
Automations save you time and money, but they also increase customer satisfaction! 77% of consumers have a positive perception of your business if you text them important information. If you email or text them important delivery updates, they can better plan how they want to receive a delivery.
For example, they may need to arrange a friend or family member to collect a delivery from their front door if they can’t be there in person. Automated notifications help your customers make their day go smoothly.
On the Move Organics delivers high quality, organic food to communities in Ontario, Canada. When the pandemic hit and more people started ordering their groceries and produce for home delivery, they saw a huge increase in business. They struggled to manage it all and complete deliveries on-time. When they automated customer notifications, their customers got real time updates on their delivery without making more work for their team.
4P foods also understood the importance of excellent customer communication in getting their farm-fresh produce to their clients so they also adopted automated SMS notifications. Their clients got a text message when the delivery driver was on the way and a second one when their order had been delivered so they could promptly pick it up from their front door.
2. Offer contactless delivery options
Consumers have new safety considerations when making purchasing decisions. For the safety of your drivers and customers, and to remain competitive, your business now needs to offer contactless delivery options. When you combine this with automated notifications, the recipient can prepare for their delivery and pick it up as soon as the driver leaves.
Contactless delivery may also save your drivers’ time as they don’t have to wait for someone to answer the door and accept the delivery. They can simply snap a photo of the package and move on to the next one. Services like Delivery Tracking also help customers prepare for a contactless delivery. This is especially important for valuable deliveries and food items that you don’t want to leave unattended on a front porch for too long.
Want more details on how to implement a contact-free delivery? Check out how to set up contactless delivery.
3. Have professional, branded delivery vehicles
Don’t be tempted to buy a cheap delivery van or truck. A professional appearance is important in building brand trust and providing a top-notch customer experience. It contributes to what makes a great delivery experience.
Your delivery vehicle should be clean, branded (with your logo or company name on the outside), and match the aesthetic of your business. For example, if you sell eco-conscious products, consider using an eco-friendly vehicle for delivery and not a Hummer or gas-guzzling SUV.
4. Integrate your e-commerce and delivery technologies
You could manually take orders, pack orders, and plan deliveries, but that’s not a sustainable practice if you want to scale your business and make more profit. Make it easier for your team and your customers. Provide your customers with an easy-to-use e-commerce platform where they can buy products, customize their delivery or pick-up options, and pay for their order effortlessly.
The more you can automate order fulfillment and delivery, the more time you and your team will have to push product development, sales, and marketing. Your e-commerce platform can often directly feed into your delivery management system too. The delivery portion of your purchase lifecycle often accounts for up to 53% of the total costs of delivery so use technology to optimize this process as much as possible.
Routific has a helpful Shopify order fulfillment integration to help make this addition to your in-house delivery process.
5. Pre-plan delivery routes to deliver more, faster
While offering same-day delivery may be a stretch to manage in-house for your small business right now, you can still optimize your route planning to get packages delivered as quickly as possible. With efficient route planning, your delivery drivers spend less time driving (not a revenue-generating activity) and can deliver more packages (a revenue-generating activity).
Not only does it set you up to provide a great delivery experience, but you can also use effective route planning to cut down on fuel costs and increase profitability.
Greenhouse successfully uses route planning to promptly deliver their fresh, organic juices to their customers next-day. Their customers can order right up until midnight for next-day juice delivery. “Depending on the time they order, there are some instances where customers get their orders even faster than Amazon Prime,” explains their Logistics Manager.
6. Include free delivery options
Did you know that 53% of consumers say that free or discounted shipping is one of the most important factors in deciding where to buy? When you handle delivery in-house you can better manage your costs or roll delivery costs into your standard product pricing and offer your clients free delivery.
Pro tip: 60% consumers are willing to pay a premium for faster delivery. Consider offering this service to increase profitability.
7. Write a handwritten note
Your customer will probably know that much of your order fulfillment and delivery process is generic and automated. When you add a personal touch to each order, like a handwritten note to thank them for their purchase, you have an opportunity to create something truly special as part of your great delivery experience for the customer.
How to get started with great delivery
Order delivery is no longer a “nice-to-have” for local businesses. It’s becoming essential with so many people demanding quick, home delivery of their purchases. Use in-house delivery services to add an additional customer touchpoint and further enhance your customers’ experience.
If you’re ready to increase client satisfaction by starting or ramping up your own-in-house delivery service, Routific can help:
- Cut route planning time down by 95%
- Deliver on-time, every-time
- Improve delivery experience with automated notifications and photo capture
Sign-up for a 7-day free trial and see how you can gain the competitive edge you need in the local marketplace.