Ways Retailers Can Improve Delivery Services During Covid-19

Online shopping has been booming since the start of Covid-19. The online market in India alone is projected to almost triple to about $100 billion by 2024, Bloomberg reports. This growth is largely driven by grocery orders and Reliant Industries Ltd’s pivot into technology and eCommerce. As such, many retailers are now offering online delivery for the first time. It’s essential that retailers perfect their delivery strategies to provide customers with excellent service and peace of mind during this time. 

 Prioritize hygiene and safety

Many customers are wondering, “is it safe to send packages?” in the current climate. You can reassure your customer base you’re doing everything possible to prioritize hygiene and safety. Delivery drivers should follow CDC guidelines, which include wearing a face mask, maintaining social distance, and regularly wiping down electronic touchpads with antibacterial wipes. Offer customers a no-contact delivery option to select when placing their order. No-contact delivery involves leaving the order on the customer’s doorstep or at a designated safe place rather than knocking on the door and making a direct exchange. You may also want to use a delivery software platform that makes it possible for the customer to complete their signature on their own device. 

Manage customer expectations

Maintaining an open line of communication with your customers is essential during this uncertain climate; it builds trust, confidence, and loyalty. Provide customers with a realistic and clear delivery timeframe (like a seven-day delivery policy, for example) and display your policy on your homepage. Your customers will then be aware of estimated delivery dates before purchasing, which in turn lowers the number of delivery queries you receive and increases customer satisfaction. Use text or email alerts to inform customers when their orders have been dispatched and delivered. Social media can also be a useful way to advertise updates to your services.

Invest in infrastructure

To provide customers with the best online shopping experience possible, you’ll need to invest in the right infrastructure. However, this needn’t be expensive. For example, there are a number of affordable software-as-a-service (SaaS) options that are easy to implement and use. Route planning software can help you plan the quickest delivery routes by taking traffic, driver schedules, storage capacity, and delivery windows into account. In these challenging times, retailers need to do all they can to provide their customers with a reliable delivery service. Prioritizing safety, managing customer expectations, and investing in infrastructure are key ways to create happy, loyal customers and increase revenue into the future.

Upgrading a Location Strategy

With coronavirus infection rates and business rules varying significantly by state and country, a store’s location now has a heightened effect on its success and even its solvency. Agile retailers are analyzing catchment areas in an effort to cope.

Ideally, retailers will employ a location strategy that is two steps ahead of where the virus is trending, allowing for swift changes. A store in Germany, where COVID-19 has generally been handled well, may need to be able to contend with shoppers willing to wait in lines outside. That same brand may need an entirely different approach to a store in New York City, which has been slow to return to normal levels of retail activity.

On a local level, this calls for a reassessment of catchment areas with the help of GIS technology, which can show how pandemic-related trends in pedestrian movement may be hurting or benefiting certain stores. As people change their daily routines to limit exposure and businesses embrace remote work and less office space, customers may no longer be where they’ve traditionally been. For instance, stores in financial districts that once relied heavily on shoppers from the commuter workforce now must adapt to new patterns.

Our own analysis of catchment areas shows higher footfall traffic and store traffic in small towns and smaller outlet centers than on main shopping avenues, where customers might formerly have spent a day. In response, retailers with slower high street locations can use location technology to analyze buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) opportunities (also known as click and collect) in those outlets, while raising staffing levels and instituting stronger sanitation procedures in suburban locations that are seeing more business.

A Reshaped Retail Footprint

While many retail closures in recent months have been unavoidable, it would be a mistake for executives to retreat or panic without first studying the data. In many cases, removing a store means a brand is out of sight and out of mind for customers, actually leading to a loss in online sales rather than a gain.

For executives to fully understand the role, revenue, and potential shortfalls of each location, a GIS-enabled dashboard is essential. A smart map of this kind—relied on by retailers such as Walmart and Bass Pro Shops—can guide business leaders through difficult decisions about whether to shutter a store, or perhaps even open a location in an area of rising demand.

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