Understanding The Impact Of Shipment Speeds In The Online Retailing Industry

A number of physical retail locations across the United States saw a decline in shoppers as a result of pandemic fear and restrictions. Luckily, online shopping and e-tail efforts from these retailers have stood the test of this pandemic. Online shopping became the safest and most convenient way for shoppers to continue to get their hands on any product they need throughout the pandemic. As many customers have come to find out as well, the capabilities of online shopping are much greater than that of in-store shopping. Customers no longer have to wander around aisles searching for their products. While online, these customers can browse a retailer’s entire inventory based on features, price, customers reviews and more. Considering this industry’s numbers as of 2019, it would seem these capabilities were serving customers well. $3.5 trillion-dollar spending was recorded in 2019, with nearly 2 billion people shopping online. 

These numbers, in connection with the industry’s growth over the past two decades, wouldn’t be possible without Amazon’s contributions. Amazon has found ways to continuously evolve the e-commerce space over time and will likely continue to do so. As of now, they currently offer 12 million different products on their platform. Which may seem like a lot, until you realize that nearly 200 million users are browsing these products per month. While these numbers are impressive, they’re also quite intimidating to the smaller online retailers that make up the rest of the industry. Attempting to keep up with such an industry giant can be frightening, not only trying to match quality product offerings but also matching the shipment capabilities of Amazon can be impossible for some online retailers. 

The logistical resources of many smaller online retailers are nowhere near what Amazon boasts. Amazon is capable of offering prime shipping to its subscribed customers. Meaning two-day shipping is possible for nearly all of their orders. This type of expedited shipping will often come at a premium cost from smaller online retailers. Many customers will be unwilling to pay a premium for this shipping method from smaller online retailers when it’s considered default from Amazon. Which means smaller online retailers will have to find a way to adapt to retain their customers. One of the ways these retailers hope to appease their customers as they wait for their orders is through a branded tracking page. Customers can visit the page and follow their orders through each step of the delivery process, sometimes up to the minute. Sure, their orders may not arrive as fast as their Amazon purchases but being able to confirm their package is on its way and hasn’t been lost in transit is a great offering. 

Online retailers will have to do offer much more than branded tracking pages to keep up with Amazon though. A revitalization of a retailer’s website is often the next step in improving a customer’s experience. Improving the user interface should be priority number one. Easy navigation to a product page should be standard for every online retailers’ website. Not only that, key features for user accounts such as shipping and billing information being saved, discounts and sales promotions, tailored offerings based on previous purchases and more should all be offered. A personalized experience is something smaller online retailers can offer that Amazon will often lack. 

Shipping speeds are hard to improve, but shipping costs can be adjusted in some cases. Cost and speed are both highly influential on a customer’s willingness to shop with any online retailer. In fact, while speed is important, customers will often choose longer lead times for delivery if it means they don’t have to pay anything to ship their order. Which means smaller online retailers should prioritize ways to reduce shipping costs rather than find ways to improve delivery speeds. For information regarding the ways in which these retailers can decrease their shipping costs to their customers, be sure to review the infographic featured alongside this post. 



About the author

John Hinchey is VP of Sales for Westfalia Technologies, Inc.., a leading provider of logistics solutions for plants, warehouses and distribution centers. He has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and warehouse automation.