Shipping delays can be a big problem for ecommerce businesses. These delays can result in lost business when customers don’t receive their product on time, and the cost of waiting is high. There are many reasons why this happens, including being out of stock or not having enough inventory to fulfill orders right away. But what should you do if your customers have already purchased something but it’s going to take longer than expected? Should you offer them a discount? Or should they just wait it out? Let’s examine some common approaches that other companies use to address these problems so that you can decide which one is best for your company.
Shipping Delays Are a Big Problem for Ecommerce Businesses
Customers don’t like receiving their product late, and the cost of waiting is high. While there are many reasons why this happens (items being out of stock, not having enough inventory) there is another question: what should you do if your customers have already purchased something but it’s going to take longer than expected?
This is a big concern for the 2021 holiday season. As world economies recovered from the 2020 pandemic, many companies are struggling to keep up with increased demand. Things like a shortage of truck drivers are making it harder for factories to get the components they need to turn out completed products.
It’s already impacting the holiday season. The latest iPhone models are expected to be a big hit this year. They were just released a few weeks ago, but are already backlogged 4-5 weeks. If you wait to see what kind of Black Friday deals might be offered, chances are you won’t have one by Christmas.
Many of these shortages are also having a downwind impact.
For example, microchip manufacturers have not been able to keep up with demand. You might think that only would have an impact if you are looking for a computer, tablet, or smartphone, but that’s not the case.
Microchips, along with shortages in steel and other components, are causing long delays in car manufacturing. Want to buy a new Toyota 4Runner? No problem. I just hope you do not mind waiting 4-6 months for delivery.
If you are running an ecommerce business, chances are it is going to be impacted this year by shipping delays at some point.
These delays can result in lost business when customers don’t receive their product on time, and the cost of waiting is high.
There are many reasons why this happens, including being out of stock or not having enough inventory to fulfill orders right away. While you likely have little control over the fact that your supplier or your own factory cannot keep up with demand, you can control how you handle and communicate with your customers about these situations.
Do You Have a Plan in Place For Dealing With Shipping Delays?
Maybe the most important thing you can do is make sure that you have a processes and plans in place for dealing with delays. You may already have a plan setup, but it’s likely it has rarely been needed. Now is the time to dust it off, make any needed updates, and review it with your team.
Key Points Your Plan Needs to Have:
What do you do when a delay happens? There are many ways to handle it, but there are a few key things your plan should absolutely include.
Maybe the most important thing you can do is be open and transparent with your customers. As soon as you know there is a potential delay with their order, let them know.
Do not wait until a day or two before a customer is expecting their order to arrive to let them know it has been delayed. As soon as you know, they should know.
It’s also a good idea to tell them what is causing the delay. Did inventory run out and replenishment is delayed from the manufacturer? Is it a shipping delay due to a carrier?
The other thing you should communicate is when you believe they can expect to receive their order. Give them a new target date. If a situation arises where you are not sure, for example your manufacturer cannot tell you when they will be able to ship more inventory, be honest about that too.
Do not lead them on and continuously give them new target dates that keep getting pushed out further and further. They may be disappointed in the situation, but they will appreciate your honesty.
Remember, you cannot possibly over communicate in a situation like this. When you receive an update on the status of what they ordered, they should receive an update too.
In the cases where low inventory is causing the delay, you should offer customers options.
Maybe you give them a discount if they choose to stick it out. You could also offer a discount on future purchases. That way you retain the sale and perhaps win some goodwill from the customer that you are trying to offer something to improve the situation.
In the case of excessive delays you should consider offering 100% refunds, especially if the order was for a holiday gift that may not arrive on time. Maybe they can still find the same thing or something similar somewhere else.
Does Your Order Fulfillment Company Have a Plan in Place For Order Delays?
Are you currently using an order fulfillment service? If so, have you talked to them about how they handle order delays? Make sure you are communicating with them how you want order delays handled for your customers.