Oct 30 2019

Track & trace: giving retailers more control

New solutions offer many sectors, including the furniture industry, more control over the shipping process: By sending up-to-date shipping notifications, they can strengthen contact with their customers, while an accurate shipping analysis provides valuable data.

Where is my order? It’s a question that customers who have ordered products online ask many a time. And for good reason: They are not always informed of whether their items are already on their way to them, when the delivery will arrive or even if there are problems with the delivery.

But now companies are rethinking – the aim is to maintain contact with customers after they place their order. The keywords here are shipping notifications and shipping analysis. That means providing customers with ongoing updates on their shipment and generating valuable data for the business by analysing the transport.

It’s a classic win-win situation: Customers feel they are getting a better service, while companies have more customer touchpoints, increase satisfaction and have opportunities to do more business. 

Post-checkout contact

But how does it work in practice? Some young, rapidly growing companies have specialised in precisely these areas. Leading the field is Munich start-up parcelLab, which offers solutions for the post-checkout experience. In other words, it helps companies connect with their customers after they place an order.

As recently as October, the start-up, which has offices in London and Paris, secured new funding from investors for further expansion. And it’s no wonder: parcelLab has recognised that neglecting what the customer wants when it comes to shipping can have serious consequences.

“Our goal is to provide purchasers with interesting information post-checkout and specifically throughout the entire shipping process and to thereby create the best possible shopping experience,” explains parcelLab COO Anton Eder, one of the company’s co-founders.

Customers are quickly informed about events and delays or other issues with their delivery by e-mail, text messages, Facebook messages or the retailer’s app. To achieve this, retailers send their shipment data to parcelLab, which counts IKEA among its customers.

Shipping analysis: opportunities for furniture retail

In practice, this gives retailers more control over the logistics process instead of delegating it completely to their carrier. Taking the first step may generate additional costs, but it opens up a number of opportunities.

parcelLab cites the example of a retailer that has been able to bring around three quarters of its customers back to its online store by providing track & trace services on its own website. Good shipping communications can also reduce the pressure on the call centre and increase the number of store reviews.

And customers receive additional information – such as assembly instructions or recommended accessories to go with their purchase. This is exactly what interests the furniture industry. Equally relevant for the sector is the ability to provide precise information on delivery times: Instead of cryptic references such as delivery “between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.”, a precise time is stated.

This means customers don’t have to take the whole day off work just to wait for their new sofa. “This has an enormous impact on customer satisfaction, which has a positive effect on the retailer-customer relationship,” says Eder.

Analysing the shipping process

The analysis of the shipping process is just as important as intelligent shipping communications. Münster-based start-up Paqato offers solutions for automated communication throughout the shipment as well as for precise shipping analysis.

This enables businesses to assess and compare the services of individual parcel delivery companies, which can reduce costs. What’s more, individual issues can be identified and difficulties avoided early on. Return rates can also be reduced – something that is becoming increasingly important for retailers.

After all, a low return rate has a positive effect. The overall aim is to optimise the shipping process and give retailers better control over it.  

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