Before now, shopping for large products like furniture, bicycles, mattresses, and so on online was somewhat unrealistic. But today, with the evolution of online shopping, customers have become more easily accustomed to online shopping and now the boundaries of what can be purchased online have been pushed to include oversized, bulky, or heavy goods.
As online shopping patronage has increased, so have customer expectations for quality service delivery. As an e-commerce store owner, you do not want to fall short of your customer’s expectations as this may lead to the loss of precious customers, especially after investing so much to get them.
Like many other areas of e-commerce, selling large or heavy items on Shopify comes with its own set of unique challenges.
In this article, you will learn about these challenges and their solutions.
But before we dig in, let’s take a look at what large/heavy products are, so you can know how well you fit into this category.
Oversized e-commerce is the branch of e-commerce that deals with the sales of large/heavy products. These products are determined by certain parameters such as weight, dimensions, and dimensional weight.
Packages from 50 pounds (23 kg) are considered to be oversized and incur additional handling surcharges. Products that weigh 70 pounds (32kg) require an overweight sticker and packages that weigh 150 pounds (68 kg) and above will incur hefty surcharges because it weighs over the limits.
If you sell goods that fall under these wiring categories, you are in the oversized e-commerce business.
All packages above 108 inches in length and 165 inches in length and width combined are considered oversized.
Dimensional weight (DIM weight) is the pricing system carriers use in determining the cost to assign to a shipping package based on its volume. This is determined by a formula that factors in the amount of space available on a carrier’s aircraft or ship and the volume of the product. DIM weight places emphasis on the amount of space a package will take up rather than the weight itself. So if you sell products that are not heavy but make use of a large packaging or box, your product will be considered oversized goods.
Below are some of the peculiar challenges you could face as a large/heavy products retailer and their solutions.
Delayed Deliveries and Poor Delivery Appointment Scheduling
One of the major problems Shopify merchants in the large/heavy items business face is a delay in delivery. This hampers the customers’ experience as customers detest not having their products delivered on the specified date irrespective of the size of the items.
This problem is often caused by the extraordinary amount of coordination required in delivering large/heavy items, oftentimes carriers are usually incentivized to move items to the destination terminal with urgent attention, but contacting the customers to finalize the delivery appointment may become challenging. A study shows that 4 days are lost in the delivery of White Glove shipments due to scheduling issues alone. Merchants tend to rack up costs with their carriers during this process and still more customer satisfaction points because of the impedance of the wholesome customer experience.
Automating the delivery scheduling process is a major problem solver in this case. Making use of third-party tools in your Shopify store for order tracking, scheduling, and communication of estimated delivery dates to the customers is known to efficiently fasten last mile delivery and cut down costs incurred from priority delivery and transit period. Research shows that this solution can reduce the average time packages spend on a delivery terminal by 22%.
Tedious Large Item Return Process
If for any reason your customers have to return an item, the common expectation is that the return process should be as stress-free and easy as possible. It is a known fact that shoppers who return items successfully and are pleased with the process are more likely to buy again. As a large items merchant, scheduling returns is a very tiresome process that can be time and cost-consuming. There are even instances where merchants advise their customers to keep or sell the items because the cost of processing the return is not plausible.
These problems end up becoming a burden on the customers as they have to source credible carrier services or a solution to sort it out, thereby leading to a poor return experience. And of course, a dent in the return experience could mar any hope of the customer buying again.
Whether we like it or not, returns are a necessary part of e-commerce. If done properly, it could optimize customer experience, improve operational efficiency and elevate profits. But if done woefully, it could spell doom for the business as a whole in the long run. The major key here is to make the return process as convenient as possible for the customer. The idea is to make it easy for customers to make a return. This can be done by making use of an automated tracking page.
With the tracking page in place, the customers can schedule the return at their convenience without having to contact customer service. This provides an automated framework for the control and visibility of the return shipment status. This makes all the parties involved to be in sync for transparent credits or funds issuance to customers.
Lack of Control Over the Experiences Customers Face
Oftentimes, customers tend to associate the carrier service that delivers their products with your brand. In the case of large item purchasing, the customer expectations of the brand are usually high because it is a high Average Order Value (AOV) purchase. As a store owner, you may not be able to control the experience your customers have when they meet the carrier service, because carrier services are not customer service organizations, they may not treat your customers with such high esteem as they ought. In other cases, they may be negligent with the packages which could cause expensive damages to the items along the way. Also, carrier services may display tracking info in ways that could be unclear or cause confusion to the customers, this also leads to a bad customer experience. 94% of customers blame the retailer when they have a bad experience caused by the carrier service.
When choosing carriers (white glove carriers) that will meet the customers or even enter their homes, ensure that they are carriers that represent your brand values. You do not want uncourteous people representing your brand in the name of delivery. This can be done by carefully analyzing historical data on carrier performance, customer feedback, and valued recommendations.
Furthermore, ensuring that the carrier service displays shipment info in simple and not confusing terms and format is your responsibility as a store owner. You have to make sure the terms used are easy to understand and do not breach communication in any way.
Also, provide your customers with a self-service tool for identifying and reporting their experiences with carriers such as a feedback form or delivery review section on your website. This will enable you to develop strategies to improve your customer experiences and make better carrier decisions.
Irrespective of the amount of money, time, or resources you put into your large item Shopify business, the very fact that the large/heavy items are generally costly implies that your customers would be high-paying customers who demand excellent customer experience from shopping to delivery. If you fail to meet these expectations, it could impede the progress of your business.
Bear in mind that other retailers out there on the same or other platforms are vying for your customers’ patronage and are willing to go the extra mile to provide seamless customer service if that will enable them to win your customers over.
With a myriad of sales automation tools available, you can leverage them to curb delivery delays, speed up order processing, and control the brand experience irrespective of the carriers you select. This will help you save time, and money as well as improve sales while enhancing your customer experience.
Special thanks to our friends at TrackingMore for their insights on this topic.