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Ecommerce benefits and challenges with two-day shipping

Nov 21, 2023 - Rich Reba
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The expansion of ecommerce has significantly raised the demand for faster shipping while brands try to remain competitive in their respective marketplaces. As buyers shift to online purchases increases, so does their expectation for quick and convenient delivery. 
 
A whopping 67% of US online shoppers anticipate their orders to show up within one to three days. It’s more critical than ever for online retailers to set clear customer expectations, from the time of purchase through delivery, to help reduce cart abandonment, build brand loyalty and drive overall customer satisfaction.

In this article, let’s explore the ins and outs of two-day shipping and why it has quickly become the norm for direct-to-consumer purchases. We'll uncover the benefits and the challenges of offering two-day shipping with actionable brand strategies for implementation.  

What is two-day shipping?

A buyer visits your storefront, orders something online, and voila, it's at their doorstep just like that. That speed of product-to-customer has quickly become the status quo in the direct-to-consumer space, thanks to the likes of Amazon. Two-day shipping is no longer a bonus for online shoppers; it often influences what is bought, how much is bought and repeat purchase decisions.

Important to note: The exact details of two-day shipping can vary between retailers, including offering it as part of a premium or subscription service. Shipping packaging and transit times may also be affected by outside factors such as geography, time during the day the order was placed and any potential transit delays.

The importance of two-day shipping

Thanks to speedy advancements in logistics and transportation, online merchants have lightning-fast shipping options at the ready. The days when two-day shipping was a fancy extra have vanished – it's now the standard. This shift is making retailers rethink how they handle logistics and customer service. If they want to stay competitive, brands are all but forced to get on board.

For ecommerce businesses, ignoring the importance of quick shipping could mean waving goodbye to those customers you spent marketing dollars to attract. It's not just a way to stand out in the crowded online market; it's also a key player in building up that loyal customer fanbase.

As we sit today, consumers want their stuff fast! If you're not tuning in to the need for speed, you risk falling behind and missing out on some serious sales.

Rooted in customer expectation and satisfaction, here are some key reasons why two-day shipping is crucial for ecommerce success:

Customer expectations

With the rise of major ecommerce platforms that offer fast shipping options, customers have come to expect quick delivery times. Two-day shipping aligns with these expectations and can be a competitive advantage for merchants.

Customer satisfaction
Fast delivery contributes to overall customer satisfaction. When customers receive their orders promptly, it enhances their shopping experience and increases the likelihood of repeat business.

Reduced cart abandonment
Lengthy delivery times can lead to cart abandonment. Publicizing “two-day” shipping options can help customers understand when to expect delivery, making them more inclined to complete the purchase rather than abandoning their shopping carts.

Meeting urgent needs
Some customers have time-sensitive needs for certain products. Two-day shipping caters to these situations, making it possible for customers to quickly obtain the items they require.

Subscription services
For businesses that offer subscription services or regular deliveries, two-day shipping can be a compelling feature. It ensures that subscribers receive their recurring orders promptly.

Brand perception
Fast shipping contributes to a positive perception of the brand. It reflects efficiency and a commitment to customer service, which can enhance the brand's reputation.

Challenges with two-day shipping

While the benefits of two-day shipping appear undeniable, direct-to-consumer brands are confronted with many challenges when it comes to effectively implementing and managing expedited shipping services. They must overcome these multifaceted challenges to implement and manage expedited shipping services successfully.

A holistic and strategic approach to logistics, technology, and customer service is essential for navigating these complexities and ensuring a positive customer experience.

Here are some common challenges associated with providing two-day shipping:

Cost
Expedited shipping typically comes with higher costs. Merchants may need to absorb these costs or pass them on to customers, potentially affecting pricing competitiveness.

Investments in infrastructure, such as warehouses and fulfillment centers strategically located for quick delivery, can also be expensive.

Here are some challenges retailers are faced with when deploying a two-day shipping strategy: 

Logistics and operations
Coordinating the logistics of getting products from the warehouse to the customer within a short timeframe can be complex. Efficient inventory management and order processing are crucial.

Fulfillment centers with strategically located facilities will help ensure your products can be shipped quickly across the US.

Inventory management
Maintaining accurate and real-time inventory levels is crucial for timely order fulfillment. Out-of-stock situations can lead to delays in shipping, and overstocking can tie up capital.

Technology and automation
Implementing the necessary technology and automation for efficient order processing is a significant challenge. This may involve integrating order management systems, inventory management software, and shipping solutions.

The use of automation will help streamline order fulfillment and minimize the likelihood of mistakes. Implementing and maintaining systems can be cumbersome and complex.

Shipping partners and carrier reliability
Dependence on third-party shipping carriers means merchants are reliant on their efficiency and reliability. Delays or mishandling by carriers can impact the ability to meet two-day shipping commitments.

Negotiating favorable rates with shipping carriers becomes crucial to manage costs.

Weather and external factors
Natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, or other unforeseen events can disrupt transportation and cause delays, impacting the ability to meet two-day shipping promises.

Returns and customer service
Offering quick and hassle-free returns is essential for customer satisfaction, but managing the logistics of returns can be challenging. Efficient returns processing is crucial for maintaining a positive customer experience.

Customer service teams must be prepared to handle inquiries and issues related to two-day shipping, including delays or lost packages.

Rural or remote areas
Delivering to remote or less accessible areas can be logistically challenging and may result in longer shipping times. Merchants need to manage customer expectations based on their shipping capabilities in different regions.

Global shipping challenges
Offering two-day shipping internationally poses additional challenges due to customs, import/export regulations, and longer transit times.

Implementing a two-day shipping strategy

To effectively navigate the complexities of two-day shipping and optimize the fulfillment process, businesses can adopt a range of strategic initiatives aimed at ensuring seamless and reliable delivery experiences for their customers. Central to this approach is the implementation of advanced order management systems and warehouse technologies that facilitate real-time order processing, inventory visibility and streamlined fulfillment workflows. By leveraging automation and data-driven insights, businesses can expedite order processing, minimize fulfillment errors and optimize inventory allocation to support the demands of two-day shipping.

Implementing a two-day shipping strategy involves optimizing various aspects of your supply chain, logistics and customer service.

Here are some strategies you can consider:

Optimized warehouse operations
Location: Place your warehouses strategically to ensure proximity to major shipping carriers and your target customer base.

Organization: Optimize warehouse layout for efficient picking, packing and shipping processes.

Automation: Implement warehouse automation technologies to speed up order processing.

Inventory management
Real-time tracking: Use advanced inventory management systems for real-time tracking of stock levels.

Safety stock: Maintain safety stock levels to prevent stockouts during high-demand periods.

Carrier selection
Partnerships: Establish partnerships with reliable carriers that offer two-day shipping services.

Negotiate rates: Negotiate competitive shipping rates with carriers to reduce costs.

Order processing
Same-day processing: Aim for same-day order processing to ensure timely shipment.

Cut-off times: Clearly communicate order cut-off times for same-day processing.

Shipping optimization
Zone skipping: Utilize zone skipping to reduce transit times by shipping directly from distribution centers to local delivery hubs.

Route optimization: Implement route optimization software for more efficient delivery routes.

Technology integration
Order management system (OMS): Implement an OMS to streamline order processing, inventory management and shipping.

Tracking systems: Provide customers with tracking information and updates in real-time.

Customer communication
Expectation setting: Clearly communicate delivery times and set realistic expectations with customers.

Proactive communication: Proactively notify customers about order status and any potential delays.

Returns management
Efficient process: Streamline the returns process to minimize the impact on overall shipping times.

Prepaid labels: Provide prepaid return labels to expedite the return process.

Data analysis
Performance metrics: Regularly analyze shipping performance metrics to identify areas for improvement.

Customer feedback: Gather and analyze customer feedback related to shipping experiences.

Subscription services
Membership programs: Consider offering subscription or membership programs that include free or discounted two-day shipping for loyal customers.

Supply chain visibility
End-to-end visibility: Implement tools that provide visibility into the entire supply chain, from order placement to delivery.

Continuous improvement
Alternative Approach: Continuously evaluate and refine your two-day shipping strategy based on performance data and customer feedback.

Weighing the benefits of two-day shipping

Whether two-day shipping is right for your business depends on a thorough analysis of your products, customers, costs, and operational capabilities. It’s essential to weigh the positives and negatives based on your specific circumstances.

The integration of two-day shipping into a business's marketing and sales strategies presents a myriad of opportunities to drive engagement, conversions and revenue growth. Retailers leverage the appeal of expedited shipping as a compelling value proposition, prominently showcasing it in their marketing collateral, website banners, and promotional campaigns to capture the attention of prospective customers.

The seamless integration of two-day shipping into the sales funnel presents ecommerce merchants with a dynamic tool to drive customer engagement, elevate purchase value and fortify their competitive position in the market.

Cart.com's fulfillment professionals are here to support retailers in meeting two-day shipping demands with our extensive carrier partnerships, national footprint and fulfillment expertise. Contact us, we’re standing by to help! 

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