Your package has arrived at your doorstep. You just ordered the item the other day. You write a customer review marveling the magic of shipping. Actually, this magic is the accumulation of hard labor and the testing of different methods. The shipping of goods across the waters has occurred for centuries. However, the current container shipping method has only been in place for a little over 60 years.
Global Shipping in a Nutshell
Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and other ancient peoples traded jewels and food, often introducing their fellow countrymen/women to new delights from other lands. The break-bulk method was the primary method of transporting goods until the 20th century. This rather tedious approach involved loading and unloading materials into crates, sacks, and barrels via ropes and pallets.
Container shipping ushered in a more convenient way of shipping in the mid-20th century. Even though England had already used standard-sized containers during rail and other land transport, the U.S. started to use containers to transport supplies during World War II. In the 1950s, an entrepreneur in trucking and steamships, Malcolm P. McLean, developed the concept of intermodalism—the same materials in the same container could be transported via different transportation modes, e.g., trucks, ships, and trains, from point A to point B.
Modern-Day Global Shipping
Container shipping makes up 60% of all sea-related trade. This percentage translated to 12 trillion dollars for the United States in 2017. The quantity of goods as well as the container ships have increased in capacity in the past 30+ years, given the increased demand for products. Most of the shipping today occurs between China (Shanghai) and the United States (Los Angeles, CA), with more products moving from China toward the United States.
Online Consumers’ Need for Global Shipping
With shipping methods more efficient as they have ever been, companies can provide services to customers who want products quickly. Since the Internet has expanded customers’ shopping horizons, products come from all around the world rather than from down the street. Since online shopping is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, customers hope their products will arrive almost as simply. Customers can learn about a company’s shipping procedures directly from the transaction page and/or from the FAQ section. However, the reality of a company’s shipping procedures comes directly from the customer reviews.
What is eGlobal Central?
In operation for more than five years, eGlobal Central is an online store with a mission to sell brand new electronics and gadgets. The company sources its products from around the globe in order to offer the best possible prices with specific options for free shipping. Employees work 24/7 to handle in-stock orders. With nine online stores in the United States, France, Italy, and more, eGlobal Central has served over 500,000 customers. On its website, the company takes pride in its customer satisfaction rate, particularly its speedy shipping, and has posted several links to sites with customer reviews. It has hired third-party reviewer sites, including eKomi, to aggregate its myriad of reviews, resulting in a positive seller rating. The eGlobal Central reviews are mostly positive but some are also critical, allowing the company to showcase authenticity and transparency.
eGlobal Central Is Not Alone
Amazon is the mecca of online retail, featuring its own products and third-party sellers’ wares. Amazon has grown and expanded with the technological times. Starting with books and CDs, the company has now cornered many markets, moving into music streaming and downloads, electronic gadgets, accessories, food, and entertainment. Amazon helped usher in the era of online reviews before customer reviews were even a company’s marketing goal. These days, fast shipping and Amazon are practically synonymous. By establishing a yearly/monthly membership known as Prime, customers are able to get free, two-day shipping on items tagged as “Prime.” If a customer uses Amazon often to purchase items and also appreciates new television programs, the membership pays for itself.
Companies Don’t Always Get It Right
Mostly, problems come from a lack of transparency. According to a 2017 report, Infinity Resources, the umbrella company of DeepDiscount, lost its Better Business Bureau accreditation due to unresolved customer complaints. ResellerRatings showcases DeepDiscount’s aggregated rating as 2 stars out 5, based on 363 customer reviews (with a review as current as February 2018). The company’s shipping and packaging score is the weakest of all the areas under consideration. Customer reviews are not present on the company’s actual website. While there are positive reviews mixed in with the negative ones, the negative ones have been so vehement that some news outlets have deemed DeepDiscount a questionable retailer.
Best Buy is a well-respected electronics store with a helpful question-and-answer feature about products as well as customer reviews on its website. However, the company has not always kept up with customer demands for products and speedy shipping. Customers have noted slow processing times combined with slow delivery, resulting in a customer’s total wait time of approximately two weeks. Dealnews reported that Best Buy has even cancelled orders around the holidays, not always notifying customers in a timely fashion. On the plus side, the company did offer refunds and credit to its disappointed customers.
What Does This Mean for Your Business?
More and more shoppers are purchasing from online retailers than ever before. Their demand for instant gratification is still present even though they are not in a brick-and-mortar store with items ready to take home. Online retailers need to step up their game to reach and keep customers. Here are a few pointers to take home:
- Consider procedures that make shipping and handling efforts efficient in order to keep up with the competition. Pay attention to trends and current technology. If your company has slower shipping, then customers are likely to buy elsewhere.
- Only make promises you can keep. If you make an error, notify customers immediately with an apology and an incentive to return, e.g., a coupon, a refund, store credit, etc.
- Care about your customer reviews. The eGlobal Central reviews are central to the company’s advertising strategy. Review feedback periodically and glean insight from what the consensus says and how your company can reasonably match customer demands.
- Maintain a good relationship with shipping companies. Their labor is what makes shipping “magic” happen for your customers.