Productivity / Outsourcing

Online stores: Avoid delivery dramas!

Online store owner? You can only satisfy customers if you efficiently and reliably deliver your products. Here are some tips to help you over- deliver.


Excellent delivery and fulfilment are crucial for online retailers. A great website, great products and great pricing can only make your customers happy to a point. If you can’t deliver seamlessly to their doors they’ll simply look elsewhere, and may complain publicly in the process.

If tales of sloppy delivery become common, it could mean the death of your business, so keep these delivery tips in mind. 

Overcome ‘Proximity Anxiety’

Australia is a big country so it’s important to find suppliers who deliver to both local and far flung places.

Our business delivers large, bulky items to our customers’ door, and often the next day. But we have had our fair share of challenges delivering to remote places such as Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land and Pannawonica in the Pilbara region in WA. The remotest place we’ve delivered to is an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was a challenge, but we did it.

Give a good indication of delivery times

Australia is a geographically challenging market, so you may be reluctant to commit to or communicate delivery times in case you don’t meet them. However, if you’re vague about delivery times, people may not proceed with the order.

"If tales of sloppy delivery become common, it could mean the death of your business."

Avoid #fail with communication

When it comes to providing customers with important information, more is definitely more!

For example, since the introduction of online delivery tracking services, customers expect to know the whereabouts of their parcel at all stages of transportation. Sure, there will be margins for error, but with so many channels of communications available, managing expectations is not difficult.

If your customer communication is limited or poor, this is regarded as poor customer service, which is bad for business.

Want more articles like this? Check out the outsourcing section.

How to improve online delivery and exceed customer expectations

  • Under-promise and over-deliver rather than the other way around.
  • Communicate well and be proactive about any delays. Text messages or emails are fast and efficient, and can even be automated, but nothing beats picking up the phone and giving an explanation.
  • Ask customers to be specific about delivery instructions to avoid  problems.
  • Partner with a good supplier who you feel comfortable with; one that understands home delivery and online retailing. Not all courier companies focus on and understand the needs of the Business to Consumer (B2C) market.
  • Eliminate headaches and save time by using a clear, accurate tracking service.
  • Offer ‘premium’ delivery options that provide more flexibility or speed. People are often prepared to pay more, and this option may even add an intangible value or point of difference over your competitors.
  • Don’t make excuses for poor communication, even if the customer shares the blame.

Meeting customer expectations by over-delivering your promises is a crucial step in creating a successful and sustainable online store.

Is delivering your products a source of anxiety for you and your clients? How do you deal with delivery dramas?

Matthew White

is director of Ergoflex Australia, an online retailer of premium quality memory foam mattresses. As well as helping Australians get a better night's sleep, Matthew is a marketer, sleep blogger, father of four and home renovator.


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