Karin Ballestrazze
March 20, 2014 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM), eCommerce , Fulfillment/Shipping | Karin Ballestrazze

Is ecommerce fulfillment or customer experience more important?

If you run an online wine store, you've probably debated the merits of discounted wine shipping vs. the total customer experience. Which is the most important area of focus?

Many experts in the retail industry have suggested that "free shipping" is the most important competitive distinction businesses can offer. While one of the original benefits of ecommerce was convenience, "free shipping" works as an additional incentive to convince shoppers to buy online rather than getting in their cars and driving to a store, according to 3Q Digital. In fact, the agency revealed 93 percent of online consumers think "free shipping" options are the biggest factor in their decision to buy on the Web. 

How can wineries compete when customers are increasingly putting pressure on brands to offer free deliveries? Research has indicated that unexpected shipping costs can contribute to shopping cart abandonment rates. Building shipping costs into the tentative order total as customers continue to add items to their carts can prevent confusion and frustration during checkout.

Here are several other ways to offer a high-quality ecommerce fulfillment experience:

  • Offer discounted rates when customers reach a qualifying total: Consumers may spend up to 30 percent more when they can access discounted shipping rates, 3Q Digital said. Shoppers view this as a reward, and many people want to use retailers that acknowledge their loyalty with a special offer. Especially if you show a comparison of what the shipping rate would be without the discount, customers will be motivated to add to their orders to get the deal.
  • Provide more than one way to ship wine: Customers are all unique and have individual needs. It may be beneficial to give shoppers the option to have packages expedited. Offering multiple choices can foster brand loyalty.
  • Utilize a subscription fee for shipping: Taking a cue from Amazon Prime, you can utilize an annual fee for shipping costs, which could increase satisfaction from repeat customers. Because clients will have already paid for the service, this can lead to an increase in online wine sales

Using customer experience in your favor
While multiple, cost-effective shipping options are essential for encouraging repeat business, making the initial sale can depend on fostering consumers' trust. Especially during peak times of the year, such as the holiday season, shoppers are looking for a high-quality experience, as well as convenient shipping. MarketLive surveyed shoppers in advance of the 2013 holiday season and found that 91 percent of consumers will respond to special offers regarding shipping. However, the cheapest fulfillment isn't the only thing customers are after during busy periods - they want to buy from retailers that will guarantee packages will arrive by a specific date and website that offers a user-friendly experience. 

"Online shoppers have become quite savvy," said Ken Burke, founder and chairman of MarketLive. "They know how to comparison shop from their mobile phones and they have come to expect things like "free shipping."

Burke added that retailers can take a strategic approach to building satisfaction, such as offering gift cards and ensuring that customer service representatives are always on hand during these peak periods. 

You can employ lessons from the holiday rush throughout the year. Rewards and loyalty programs can put you in a competitive position and keep customers returning. However, it's important not to neglect ecommerce fulfillment in your overall customer satisfaction strategy. Client experience doesn't end when cases of wine leave the door - it goes until packages reach their final destinations. Customers may not buy from you again if their orders are inaccurate or arrive late. Because of the importance of delivering packages on time, 3Q Digital suggested partnering with a company that specializes in fulfillment can help you offer a more consistent experience.


order fulfillment services's Gravatar
order fulfillment services
@ Sep 9, 2014 at 11:42 PM
That offer benefits (or less hassle) of having a warehouse/fulfillment service. I understand time and cost are important, but I the seller responsible of collecting sales tax on orders ship...

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