The last few years have been tumultuous to say the least, with a combination of pandemic-related disruption and other economic and political pressures placing unprecedented strain on global supply chains. In spite of this, it is possible for small business deliveries to account for potential hold-ups and satisfy customers. Let’s talk about what tools and techniques are available to organizations of all sizes that want to fight back against shipping delays.
Working with Third Parties to Guarantee Next Day Delivery
Consumer expectations have grown exponentially, and if customers are able to order goods online from your website, then offering next-day or even same-day delivery is becoming a base level service that even smaller companies must provide.
Enabling this in-house is often impractical and prohibitively expensive, which is why lots of organizations work with overnight courier services to get the job done.
As well as taking charge of the actual delivery of products, modern providers are capable of encompassing other elements of the supply chain, including warehousing. This reduces the budgetary burden that small business deliveries have to bear in order to ship items to customers quickly.
Being Realistic about Delivery Windows
Speed isn’t everything when it comes to keeping customers happy at the delivery stage. In fact it’s arguably more important to give them a precise idea of when their package will arrive, regardless of whether that’s in a day, a week, or a month.
Everyone appreciates honesty from the companies they use, and if you know that supply chain delays are throwing a spanner in the works for your operations, there’s no point over-promising in the hope of luring shoppers away from competitors.
Of course you need to think about this from the other direction as well; if you don’t give customers any indication of when their delivery is due, that’s just as unhelpful as being imprecise or overly optimistic.
The point is that by keeping customers in the loop, and also providing updates on any delays as soon as possible, you’ll nip the potential for discord in the bud rather than allowing it to bloom and do damage to brand loyalty.
Planning for Seasonal Shifts in Demand Small Business Deliveries
Another must-do for any small business is the act of putting a plan in place to deal with peak periods of business, usually focused around particular events throughout the year as well as the holidays.
It’s not just a case of knowing that the number of orders you receive will rise at these times and making internal preparations, but also managing relationships with third parties to accommodate the challenges you’ll face.
For example, if you know that the couriers that you usually use for next-day delivery will be swamped after a certain date, setting a deadline for orders to be placed for fulfillment prior to this on your site will sidestep customer consternation.
Tracking Changes to Availability in Real Time
Your inventory will likely change rapidly, and when supply chain delays are a looming issue, you cannot afford any inaccuracies in this arena. A customer seeing that an item is in stock on the product page, only to find that it’s unavailable when they reach the checkout, will be rightly disgruntled.
Likewise if you only reorder best-selling goods from suppliers once they have sold out, you’ll face a time lag between restocking, during which time you’ll miss out on sales unnecessarily.
As such you have to invest in the latest systems that let you track changes to the availability of products in real time, and also be proactive about restocking the hottest items in your inventory.
Rectifying Delivery Dilemmas by Demonstrating that You Value Customers
It’s not possible to completely eliminate mistakes from the operations of any small business, so it pays to be prepared to deal with the aftermath of snafus.
This is particularly important when it comes to deliveries, as even small delays or missteps can leave customers feeling frustrated.
Those that do experience a less-than-stellar service, whether it’s the fault of your company or one of your partners in the delivery process, should be compensated. This could mean providing a discount off their next order, or an offer code to receive free shipping.
As well as patching up a rocky period in your relationship with a customer, this is a good way of increasing the likelihood that they’ll come back for more in the future.
Keeping Delivery Costs Low
In among the supply chain delays, consumers have also had to contend with the gradual increase in the price of shipping from the businesses that they buy from.
This is an inevitable knock-on result of issues like rising inflation and growing fuel costs. But this also gives companies an opportunity to make themselves more conspicuously pro-customer by offering affordable or even free delivery.
The added perk of providing inexpensive shipping as an option at the checkout, or even as the only service available, is that it will temper the expectations of shoppers. Any service which does not cost them extra cash also won’t need to be especially swift.
There are ways to factor in the price you’ll pay as a business for supplying free delivery to customers. Rebalancing pricing on certain popular products, or making efficiency improvements to the way you run your warehousing, will give you the wiggle room you require to justify this.
The Last Word on Small Business Deliveries
Up and coming companies have to be competitive with global competitors when it comes to shipping if they want to gain momentum. Customers won’t stand for sub-par service quality more than once, and even known supply chain delays aren’t enough of an excuse these days.
You don’t have to overcome this obstacle alone, and there are meaningful ways to work around it which require proper planning and preparation, as well as regular reviews of key performance indicators to see if there’s even more room for improvement. This will leave you with a more robust and resilient business as a result.