Physical retail locations saw a hit throughout the recent pandemic response in the United States. As a result, online shopping and e-tail efforts from these businesses have evolved. Online shopping has become the safest and most convenient way for consumers to purchase the necessities throughout the pandemic. The capabilities of online shopping extend much further than those of a physical retail experience. Extensive stock lists, feature and quality detailing, price checks and reviews, everything a consumer needs to make the most educated decision on a purchase has contributed greatly to the growth of the online retailing industry. Just prior to the pandemic, in 2019, the world posted a $3.5 trillion spending value on online sales with nearly 2 billion people shopping online.
The progress this industry has seen over the recent years wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of Amazon. This company has continued to evolve the e-commerce space time and time again throughout their tenure in the industry. With nearly 12 million products offered on their platform, it’s hard to believe consumers wouldn’t be able to find a product they’d be willing to buy while scrolling through their offerings. This may seem like overkill in regards to product offerings, however, considering the nearly 200 million people that visit Amazon’s marketplace month over month, it’s much more appropriate. The problem with such an overarching presence in the industry, though, comes in the form of losses posted by much smaller online retailers. Keeping up with Amazon can be hard, not only in product offerings, but in shipping times as well.
Logistical resources are spread relatively thin in the case of smaller online retailers. While Amazon is able to offer ‘prime’ shipping options to their prime status customers, it’s often hard to replicate this in the case of smaller online retailers without charging a premium. Customers likely aren’t willing to pay said premium, so these retailers need to adjust accordingly to remain in contention with powerhouses like Amazon in the space. One way in which these companies are attempting this is through rigorous tracking information that allows customers to consistently know where their order is and when they should be receiving it to the minute. While it’s all but certain these orders won’t arrive as fast as Amazon’s would, at the very least customers aren’t left in the dark regarding the status of their order which is important in the long run.
Attempting to keep up with Amazon extends much further than just some branded tracking pages, though. It will often take even more considerations from these smaller retailers to even remotely keep up. One of the ways in which these retailers are trying to keep up is through a fine-tuned online shopping experience. While Amazon’s user interface isn’t the greatest, it certainly gets the job done. However, smaller online retailers have begun focusing on creating a user experience that is much more personal and accommodating. Features such as saved shipping and billing information, personalized offerings, discount and sale codes, the list goes on. Creating the most personalized user experience is priority number one.
Priority number two, however, is trying to focus on the shipping costs associated with orders on their website. Research has indicated that cost and speed are the two most important aspects of a company’s shipping offerings. While retailers might not be able to keep up with the shipping speeds of their competitors, they certainly can do their best to reduce the cost their customers have to pay for shipping. Believe it or not, this is actually the best thing they can do as customers have indicated that they much prefer free shipping over accelerated shipping but love a combination of the two. Given the choice, however, they’d select free shipping with a longer expected delivery time. Channeling shipping efforts into this preference is the best call for these online retailers.
For more information on how to keep up with Amazon’s shipping capabilities, be sure to review the accompanying infographic coupled alongside this post.
Author bio: John Hinchey is VP of Sales for Westfalia Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of logistics solutions for plants, warehouses and distribution centers. He has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and warehouse automation.