Business Advice

Suffering from supply chain issues? Here’s how to exceed your customers’ expectations anyway

- October 11, 2022 4 MIN READ

As global supply chain issues continue to bite many small businesses, Shopify’s Managing Director, APAC, Shaun Broughton, says there are still a few surefire ways to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on global shipping, with customers and retailers left frustrated as never-ending shipping delays and shortages continue to impact businesses.

Combined with shipping strikes and increased extreme weather events all around the world, the global supply chain has rarely, if ever, been in such a precarious position. The impact has been felt by the world’s biggest companies and small businesses alike; all trying to secure the materials they need in a timely manner.

Customer expectations continue to grow

All of this has led to lengthy shipment delays, increasing costs and inventory shortages and it is important for businesses to remember that whilst these problems may continue to grow, customers’ expectations will also.

Consumers expect a seamless buying experience, fast delivery and the ability to be able to track their items from the time they leave the warehouse until they arrive at their front door.

This can make it difficult for businesses trying to provide a positive, cost effective and efficient click-to-deliver experience while dealing with a global crisis behind the scenes.

So, what can you do to not only meet, but exceed, growing customer expectations? Here are four top tips that are working for other eCommerce businesses.

1. Go local

One way to lessen global supply chain disruption is to make your supply chain as local as possible. Known as ‘reshoring’ or ‘onshoring’, this solution is one way you can increase stability, cut costs and have a smaller carbon footprint. There’s also the concept of ‘localisation’ which means bringing points in the supply chain closer – such as ensuring production is located near a logistics partner — to help businesses meet the demands of their consumers.

This process can look like a lot of things – from moving just part of the process to a company’s HQ, or upgrading existing facilities. This has already seen strong uptake, with PROS’s Australian Manufacturing Outlook revealing that 55 per cent of Australian manufacturers intend to reshore their operations to Australia by 2023.

While the complexity of supply chains varies by business size, reshoring comes with its challenges. Domestic production can be more expensive and it might be hard to even know where to start. However, each part of the supply chain you can bring closer to home is an opportunity to minimise disruptions.

Man using smartphone to track mail packages

2. Be selective with your shipping options

Businesses have endless shipping options, but a good shipping strategy doesn’t mean you need to offer every shipping option possible. It’s about finding a balance between the options that are affordable, aligned with customers’ needs, and realistic when it comes to your business.

Shoppers favour fast, free shipping options: according to Shopify research, 75 per cent of shoppers claim that free shipping significantly influences their purchase decisions.

One way to achieve easier and more affordable shipping from Australia is through a shipping partner like Sendle, which allows you to buy and print your Sendle labels at special rates directly through Shopify. This gives you the advantage of some of the lowest domestic and international shipping rates, whilst also being able to manage your orders and shipping in one place.

3. Be transparent

Being transparent about your shipping costs and delivery timelines can moderate customers’ expectations. According to Shopify’s Future of Commerce report, research, 74 per cent of consumers want to see shipping costs upfront when making purchasing decisions, and 68 per cent would like free returns and estimated arrival times.

By listing your shipping prices before checkout, you can avoid cart abandonment and eliminate the shock factor that customers may experience if prices are higher than expected when they arrive at the checkout screen. Eliminating this element of surprise not only provides transparency, but also sets expectations early on in the purchase process.

Building a page dedicated to shipping on your website is also highly recommended in achieving such transparency.

4. Over-communicate

With manufacturers: Proactively and frequently reach out to determine inventory readiness and to begin conversations and estimates for shipping your product as soon as possible. Triple-check your order details to ensure both parties are on the same page, and actively monitor shipments so you’re aware of any issues as they arise. All of this should also allow you to set more realistic expectations with your customers.

With consumers: Being proactive with customer communications is never a bad idea. When a package is going to be delayed, customers expect a heads-up – especially on high-value orders where establishing trust is essential for customer loyalty.

There’s no doubt that global supply chain disruptions have become increasingly common, with shortages, rising import costs and delays interrupting the normal flow of goods. Coupled with growing consumers’ expectations, it’s important to consider your supply chain strategy, customer communication and shipping options to beat supply chain challenges and satisfy customer expectations.

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