My wife and I joined online DVD rental service Netflix a few months ago. Overall, I’ve been satisfied with the experience and their prompt delivery of DVDs. I’m sure it helps that they have a distribution center here in Austin!
Your company may sell products to customers and ship them via UPS, FedEx or even the U.S. Postal Service. With online shopping, there is always a time gap between when the order is placed and when it arrives. This time can often fill the customer with doubts as to when their purchase will arrive.
Provide Tracking Information
Always give your customers the tracking ID for your shipping carrier. This will allow customers to see for themselves where their package is located at any given time.
Netflix uses the U.S. Postal Service to send and receive DVDs. Since there is no tracking system for first class mail, they can’t give customers a tracking number. Nevertheless, they have effectively leveraged their knowledge of their distribution network and standard USPS delivery times to estimate arrival dates.
Since I’ve had my share of issues with the USPS in the past, I always have a little bit of doubt when I drop a letter or DVD in the mail. Will it ever get to its destination? How long will it take to arrive? Netflix soothes my concerns by acknowledging receipt of DVDs via email.
On the flip side, when another DVD ships to me, Netflix will email and tell me it is on its way and the estimated delivery date. So far, their estimate has been on the mark about 95% of the time. Not too bad!
Visibility into the Shipping Gap
Setting expectations with shipping helps comfort your customers during that gap of time between a product’s purchase and its delivery. Remember that communication is the key to reassuring your customers:
- At the time the order is placed, set the delivery expectation. If you know it, tell them the exact day.
- Email the customer when their order has shipped.
- Email the customer when you receive mail, a package, or a return from them.
Netflix does a great job of communicating with its customers about delivery and shipping times. What lessons can you apply to your online business?