Experiencing delays? Keep your customers informed

COVID-19 and online delivery

As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, so too are its repercussions to shipping and fulfilment. In some parts of the world product stocks are running low as demand outweighs supply.

Online retail boom?

Some eCommerce businesses and industries, though, are seeing an unexpected rise in demand as consumers forego the traditional visit to the shops in favour of at-home delivery. According to Digiday, sales of fresh food on JD.com jumped 215% in China in the 10-day period ending 2nd February, while online sales of Dettol rose 643% year-on-year between February 10 and 13 on the Chinese eCommerce site Suning.com.

Increased demand impacts delivery

Unfortunately, while the coronavirus-related eCommerce boom might be good for business, it might not be good for the customer experience, particularly when it comes to delivery expectations. Transport routes have been severely disrupted as many ports and parts of China have been effectively cut off from the rest of the world, while warehouse staff hired to fulfil orders have been unable to work. Bloomberg reports that Amazon has announced delivery delays caused by coronavirus. Amazon hasn’t reduced the number of people or trucks dedicated to delivering orders, but it has seen a surge in demand that’s straining its delivery capacity.

Reuters says that UPS and FedEx have warned of shipment disruption and delays in countries most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak too. “We are taking recommended precautions in terms of pilot, team member and customer health and safety,” FedEx told Reuters, saying that it is flying in and out of affected countries, but travel restrictions are affecting transit times.

Keeping customers in the loop

For eCommerce businesses that are impacted by delivery delays, the most valuable tool available to them is notifications. The more they can be open and honest with their customers about any delays they may experience, the better their overall customer service. In fact, according to the latest CommBank Retails Insights report, 80% of respondents wanted updates on delivery status, but only 32% of retailers sent them, compared with just 15% of respondents who thought that fast delivery was extremely important. And while reasonable consumers should probably expect some disruption to their standard delivery expectations while COVID-19 continues to impact the world, nothing beats transparent customer service.

If your business is experiencing delays related to coronavirus (or anything else, for that matter), Starshipit’s recommendation is to keep your communication lines open with your customers. Email should be your first port of call, followed by SMS notifications. When you can, give your customers as much specific detail as possible: why the delay has occurred, when you expect deliveries to arrive in the country, and when you hope to deliver their parcels. If you need to, roster more people onto your customer support rota to help manage increased demand in enquiries. And when the delays have finally been conquered, send SMS and email notifications to reassure your customers that their orders are on their way.