Three ways local eCommerce retailers can thrive in the face of Amazon

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With Amazon set to launch any day now, eCommerce retailers need to get ahead of the game by honing in on customer pain points and finding ways to improve, particularly when it comes to delivery.

Amazon Prime is a service offered in other markets whereby customers get a number of “VIP” benefits – chief among them faster, free shipping. Depending on the order, customers can choose between two-day, one-day, same-day and even two-hour delivery.

The good news for Australian retailers is that this shipping speed – only made possible in the US by Amazon’s extensive nationwide warehouse presence – won’t be feasible here for a good few years.

That means local eCommerce businesses still have an opportunity to get ahead of the online juggernaut by improving on the delivery experience offered to customers.

A good delivery experience plays an instrumental role in a customer’s perception of a brand, as it’s often the only physical interaction they have with the business – particularly for online-only retailers. This is despite the fact that an external company (Australia Post or a courier service) typically delivers the goods – customers will inevitably connect their delivery experience with the overall perception they have of the retailer.

This means that all of the investment you’ve poured into the business could all be for nought if the party delivering the product to your customer does a sloppy job of it. As far as the customer’s concerned, the overall experience they’ve had with the brand is only as good as the weakest link in the chain – in this case, the deliverer.

With competition ramping up, it is more important than ever for local online brands to develop a seamless experience for their customers that extends all the way to their front door. Here are three ways you can create a compelling experience that will engage your customers and keep them coming back for more.

  1. Consider alternative delivery platforms

The most common complaint isn’t cost so much as the lack of transparency around delivery.

Between services like Uber, Deliveroo, and Jimmy Brings, customers are becoming increasingly accustomed to being able to track services in real-time. Eventually, this is something that will become standard for online delivery too, but until then, eCommerce businesses have an opportunity to set themselves apart by partnering with forward-thinking logistics companies that offer live GPS tracking for parcels. Being able to offer the ability to track packages in real-time means no missed delivery slips, greater certainty, and happier customers.

  1. One size does not fit all

Offering more delivery options will make eComnmerce businesses more competitive, as it allows them to service customers who need their goods faster. It’s common sense: if a company only offers the standard three-to-five-day shipping option, a customer who needs a product urgently is likely going to look for a retailer who offers that next day delivery option – and will happily pay extra for that privilege.

In the age of instant gratification, being able to offer same or next-day delivery will lure more of the traditional bricks and mortar shoppers to online shopping.

  1. Partner with customer-centric companies

When selecting vertical partners, online businesses should consider whether the third party shares the same customer-centric culture. Is it easy for customers to reach the driver or a customer-support line if things go awry? Are there multiple options for accessing help with delivery (SMS, online chat, email, phone)?

Too often, delivery companies adopt a “not my problem” attitude when parcels go walkabout, and in an era when so easy for customers to get on a social-media soapbox and complain about poor experiences, online retailers inevitably get tarred by the same brush as their service partners.

Steve Orenstein, CEO, Zoom2U