More than two decades ago, the giants of the shipping industry started using mobile technology to track the progress of their shipments and deliveries. These were huge, proprietary systems that required sophisticated software and handheld devices. Until recently, the scope and cost of this type of system meant that only the largest providers could afford to implement the technology. However, the proliferation of smartphones—which are now in the pockets of nearly every American—is bringing a technology revolution to the smaller freight forwarders that have traditionally lagged behind in this area.
People in our industry have a tendency to lean on traditional modes of communication, preferring to accomplish everything with paper and phone calls. However, in order to compete in today’s technology-driven society, many smaller companies are now aiming to be completely paperless. Today, it is possible to create an app that can be downloaded to any phone—one that serves the same purpose as the proprietary handheld devices used by FedEx and UPS.
At the same time, new scheduling and tracking systems are allowing freight companies to improve the experience of online shoppers, responding to some common concerns of Internet retailers.
The Communication Gap and Buyers’ Remorse
There are a couple of requests that we hear routinely from our customers in the Internet retail space, the most important of which was helping to close the communication gap. In our niche, we’re not dealing with small orders, like an item of clothing or a tablet. Rather, we’re dealing with large items, and with those large items can come a large price tag. Typically, when someone shops on an Internet retail site, they click on a big-ticket item—like a television or piece of workout equipment—take it to check out and pay for it … and then there is silence. There is often little or no information communicated from that point on. The only way to get information is for the customer to go back to the site and see that their order was processed. But what does that mean to the buyer? Nothing.
Retailers found that, when a person makes an expensive purchase of a large item, they are subject to buyer’s remorse— an Internet company’s Achilles’ heel. When a customer has no idea where their order is or when it may arrive, the purchase doesn’t feel concrete. The longer this goes on, the more time that person has to change his or her mind about the order. To eliminate buyer’s remorse and improve customer retention, the industry needed to embrace and utilize technology to tighten up the post-purchase communication gap.
Closing the Gap
Simply put, the consumer wants to know where their television is and when it will be delivered. Technology available today and being used by companies like ours can solve this issue by implementing a scheduling system to ask the customer to set up a delivery appointment at the time of purchase. This can be done in a seamless manner, without the consumer knowing they left the retailer’s site. At this point, the customer is able to pick a date and time that works best for him or her, and is simultaneously being worked into our scheduling system in a window of time that coincides with our drivers’ schedules and routes.
So now we are able to get our customer’s customer what they want—a confirmed date and time to expect a delivery—and we have also been able to help out our customer by tightening the communication gap and solidifying the sale. This is the type of thing that can drive significant growth for a small Internet retailer who can’t afford high rates of returned purchases and customer dissatisfaction.
Improving Delivery Efficiency: There’s an App for That