New Report Highlights Small Businesses’ Struggles to Fulfill Consumers’ Increasingly High Shipping Expectations

VL OMNI’s Director of Marketing Jessica Thiele contributed expert insight for the report, published by Clutch.

In the era of Amazon Prime, an online shopper typically receives a package within 2-3 days of ordering, according to new data from Clutch, a B2B research firm in Washington, D.C. This is an increase from 2014, when packages took 6.3 days on average to be delivered.

Matching Amazon’s quick delivery speeds can be a challenge for smaller ecommerce retailers, who don’t have access to the technology and resources that fuel Amazon’s massive delivery network.

Clutch’s new report explores consumers’ current expectations for shipping and how small businesses are adjusting their strategies to keep up with the competition. Jessica Thiele, the director of marketing for VL OMNI, provided industry context in the report.

Amazon Drives Consumer Expectations Forward

Thiele helped confirm the data from Clutch’s report, stating “The average click-to-ship time is now 2.1 days, a 17% improvement in time for online orders fulfilment in 2018.”

Recent news stories have revealed a somewhat shakier foundation to Amazon’s massive delivery network than people previously knew, especially as Amazon pushes for a one-day shipping standard. Amazon still manages to run a highly efficient delivery network, though.

“[Consumers] used to the Amazon delivery model expect a near-perfect experience from click to delivery,” Thiele said. “Amazon’s domination is forcing merchants to compete with more delivery options, unique experiences, and faster than ever delivery times.” Faster delivery times also lead to results: “26% of merchants who had faster shipping experienced faster overall growth,” Thiele said.

How Do Smaller E-commerce Retailers Keep Up?

Clutch’s report recommends small businesses follow four tips to match consumers’ shipping desires:

  1. Streamline product offerings
  2. Communicate consistently
  3. Not over promise on delivery timelines
  4. Seek outside resources

Small businesses can focus on only offering products that are easy to make and ship. Kara Buntin is the owner of A Cake To Remember, a cake-decorating supplies shop based in Richmond, Va.: “I recently unlisted an entire category of items that took a little longer than average to make and ship, and I’m concentrating on selling things that are ready-to-ship,” Buntin said. “I make more things ahead [of time] and am able to get them in the mail the day after they’re ordered, if not the same day.”

When small businesses ship items, they should keep customers in the loop about the exact delivery timeline, including where packages currently are and when they’ll arrive. Though it may be tempting to offer fast shipping to gain more sales, these retailers should not do so unless they can consistently fulfill that promise. Nearly half of online shoppers (45%) will be unlikely to order from a company again if it delivers a product late, according to Clutch’s data.

Finally, several types of outside resources can help small businesses keep up in the age of Amazon. Logistics experts and software solutions can add manpower and greater knowledge to the delivery process.

While Amazon and other e-commerce giants continue to shorten the average delivery timeline, smaller retailers do have strategies they can adopt to keep up.

Written by Riley Panko from Clutch.io