In 2019, Amazon Prime broke records, delivering a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc in just 13 minutes. But what was a novel example of ultra-fast fulfillment is quickly heading towards normality, as customer expectations rise beyond the buy button and beyond Amazon.
Only a third of customers will wait three or more days for an online delivery, and one in four shoppers will choose a retailer because they have better delivery options than their competitors. In other words, fast fulfillment is the new eCommerce standard for 2021.
But you don’t want your eCommerce brand to be standard; you want it to be exceptional, and this is where ultra-fast fulfillment comes in.
This blog will go over ultra-fast deliveries and how to get them for your eCommerce store.
What is ultra-fast fulfillment?
Ultra-fast fulfillment is an eCommerce delivery standard that beats standard fulfillment speeds by delivering orders in 3, 2, and even next day.
The actual date of ultra-fast delivery depends on the customer location and your fulfillment partner’s order cut-off time. For example, a customer living 3 kilometers from your warehouse, placing an order at 10 a.m. on a Monday, could receive their order the same or next day. A customer living 4,000 kilometers from your warehouse placing an ordering at 5 p.m. on Monday would receive their order later.
To make this possible, eCommerce sellers can use a combination of distributed warehouses, an array of carriers and overnight shipping services, or leave it to an all-inclusive outsourced fulfillment provider.
First, let’s look at why ultra-fast delivery is critical for eCommerce success this year.
8 reasons ultra-fast fulfillment is critical for 2021
Ultra-fast delivery isn’t anything new; as you heard, Amazon has been delivering items super quick for years. But events in 2020 have made ultra-fast fulfillment crucial for eCommerce success in 2021, for several reasons.
1. Providing ultra-fast fulfillment as your eCommerce differentiator
eCommerce is becoming an increasingly noisy industry, with more people selling online than ever before.
Last year, we witnessed the shift from physical to online retail accelerate by approximately five years. eCommerce is booming, and so is the competition. Accordingly, you need a sustainable differentiator to stand out;- something that can set you apart without significantly diminishing your profits, as price wars can do.
Ultra-fast fulfillment is your eCommerce differentiator. It’s dynamic, specific, and convenient -- providing customers with something valuable, personalized, and noticeable to distinguish you from your competitors.
Shoppers also like talking about and listening to positive delivery experiences -- allowing you to further differentiate your customers using positive user-generated content and feedback to secure more conversions.
Relevant reading: How fast delivery can help your Shopify store stand out
2. Winning customers from Amazon
Amazon ships fast, and shoppers know that - it’s why 63% of consumers head straight there. However, 2020 caused a change in shopper behavior, with more consumers wanting to shop directly with brands rather than via an online marketplace.
According to RetailDive back in 2018, 81% of consumers planned to shop directly by 2023 - and with Amazon Prime suffering notable outages last year, we expect this statistic to be achieved earlier than expected.
Ultra-fast fulfillment provides shoppers with the convenience of Amazon’s shipping speeds with the personal and rewarding experience of shopping directly with online brands. It allows you to offer the best of both worlds and benefit from Amazon’s disloyal customer base.
3. Increasing your visibility online
To stand out, you must be seen, and ultra-fast shipping speeds help with that too.
If you’re a multi-channel seller, fast shipping programs such as Walmart TwoDay and Wish 2-day increase your visibility with search rankings, fast shipping tags, fast shipping-filters, and buy box preference. This, in turn, boosts your website traffic, as people learn about your brand and google you to find out more.
You can also increase the visibility of your website among paid advertisements. Dynamic, fast shipping ad tags display 2-day or next-day delivery tags on your Facebook and Google Shopping advertisements, depending on the customer’s location. This makes your ads visually stand out to attract customer attention.
4. Providing Insta-gratification
May 2020 saw Instagram Shops hit the eCommerce scene, bringing a whole new level of instant gratification.
Shoppers use Instagram to seamlessly browse products and place orders without leaving the platform - increasing the speed they can purchase.
Ultra-fast fulfillment ensures you don’t ruin an Insta-worthy customer experience by slow deliveries. Instead, customers receive their product while they’re still excited and engaged, making them more likely to share their buying experience on the platform.
5. Providing more control to your buyers
Buying products online can be unpredictable. Customers don’t know if the product quality will match expectations, when the order will arrive, or if it will arrive at all. This makes shopping online stressful for many, and the panic buying of 2020 only made things worse.
Ultra-fast shipping comforts customers and provides reassurance and convenience in an unpredictable world. Customers know when their order will arrive, meaning they spend very little time in that gray area between order placement and receipt.
Let’s also not forget that sometimes shoppers have no control over how quickly they need an item - think forgotten anniversary gifts or empty beauty products. Ultra-fast shipping allows customers to regain control over the situation by rectifying it as soon as possible.
6. Meeting the emotional needs of shoppers
Customers have certain emotional needs you need to meet when selling online, and that’s gotten even more prominent over the past 12 months.
2-day and next-day delivery speeds cater to these emotional needs in four different ways:
- Providing easy-to-understand shipping expectations that reduce ambiguity and increase certainty.
- Delivering products as soon as possible to provide instant gratification and remove worry.
- Highlighting exceptional customer care to increase trust.
- Providing strong customer service to support the customer through their purchasing journey.
Ultimately, fast shipping excites customers during the purchasing phase, supports them during the delivery phase, and pleases them during the receipt phase.
7. Creating business resilience during growth periods
eCommerce has been running at a peak since the middle of last year, creating certain industry strains.
Amazon FBA couldn’t keep up with the demand, resulting in the suspension of non-essential inbound deliveries and slow delivery speeds - while other sellers faced broken supply chains, insatiable demand, and overwhelmed shipping carriers.
Successful brands were those that could rely on a strong and fast fulfillment infrastructure to maintain delivery speeds and meet the demand of their customers.
8. Reducing strain on your customer service
Customer relations are integral to your store’s success and reputation, necessitating fast, easy, and helpful customer support.
Ultra-fast fulfillment helps your customer service team reduce the number of “where is my order?” queries, by removing uncertainty and delivering before frustration sets in.
This gives your customer service team more time to handle other customer matters, initiate proactive customer support, and nail your customer service in 2021.
How to attain ultra-fast fulfillment speeds
Perhaps the biggest question in your mind isn’t the benefits of ultra-fast deliveries, but the practicalities of them. How do you match the speeds of Amazon Prime to provide next-day and 2-day deliveries on your Shopify store or other eCommerce platform?
Distribute inventory across the country
The first step in attaining ultra-fast fulfillment is distributing your SKUs across the country. The closer your inventory sits to the end customer, the less time it takes to get to their front door.
This enables you to increase delivery speed - providing 2-day deliveries across the country and next-day deliveries to customers living within a certain radius of your warehouses. And the less distance orders must travel, the less money you spend on shipping costs.
For example, Deliverr strategically distributes inventory across the country based on historical demand. That means we predict where your most demand will be, and preemptively store SKUs near buyers.
Optimize internal fulfillment processes
The less time it takes between receiving an order and handing that order to your shipping carrier, the more time your shipping carrier has to deliver an order expeditiously.
If you fulfill orders in-house, optimize your internal fulfillment processes to minimize order handling time by:
- Using real-time order management software to download new orders and print shipping labels upon receipt.
- Adapting your warehouse layout to mimic your order fulfillment workflow (for example, order download station > fast-moving stock > packaging station > warehouse door).
- Using temporary staff during peak retail periods such as the holidays or ‘Back to School.’
Package orders properly
A lost, damaged, or incorrectly delivered package is a surefire way to downgrade your delivery service from ultra-fast to ultra-slow.
Reduce the chances of this happening to your order by securely packaging orders using the right materials, eCommerce dunnage, shipping labels, and traceable shipping service.
Tip: If you’re outsourcing, send your items into your fulfillment center as you want your customers to receive it.
Partner with an outsourced eCommerce fulfillment service
If you don’t have the time, space, or expertise to achieve ultra-fast fulfillment yourself, it’s time to switch from in-house to outsourced fulfillment.
An ultra-fast fulfillment service like Deliverr is optimized for 2-day and next-day deliveries, using:
- A network of warehouses across the country
- Intelligent stock distribution software
- Scalable storage and staff to manage peak periods
- Fast-shipping designed processes and practices
You simply distribute your stock according to their instruction, and they do the storing, picking, packing, shipping, and everything in between.
Outsourcing your fulfillment doesn’t have to cost more either. The buying power of third-party fulfillment services often results in better bulk rates, and Deliverr provides an all-inclusive fulfillment cost that makes ultra-fast deliveries more affordable for your business.
How to promote ultra-fast fulfillment speeds
Before we leave you to get started and reap the benefits of ultra-fast fulfillment in your eCommerce business, lets cover the best ways to promote those shipping speeds to your customers.
When you’ve gone to the time and trouble of achieving 2-day and next-day delivery, you want to share them in as many places as possible.
Get on marketplace fast shipping programs
Many marketplaces will take care of highlighting your fast shipping offerings for you. For example, Walmart has Walmart TwoDay Delivery, eBay has eBay Fast ‘N Free, Wish has Wish 2-day, and Amazon has Amazon Prime.
Fast shipping tags and banners
Add branded fast shipping tags to your listings, making it one of the first things customers notice when clicking through to a product page. You can also add fast shipping banners on your home and category pages to reinforce the message and appeal to all customers - regardless of how urgent their purchase is.
Fast shipping countdown timers
Use a fast shipping countdown timer on product pages to tell customers exactly how long they have left to order their product in time for 2-day or next-day delivery. Not only does a fast shipping countdown timer create certainty, but it also creates a sense of urgency that pushes many customers over the conversion line.
Dynamic fast shipping ad tags
Add dynamic fast shipping tags to your online advertisements that use a customer’s current location to display next-day or 2-day delivery tags as appropriate. These set realistic customer expectations while making your ad stand out among others.
Your customer service and marketing teams
Get your customer service and marketing teams talking about and using your ultra-fast delivery speeds when dealing with customers. For example, your customer service agents can provide free ultra-fast delivery for replacement products or as a gesture of goodwill. At the same time, your marketing team can share ultra-fast delivery feedback on your social media accounts.
Wrapping it all up
Fast shipping has been getting faster for a long time now, but 2021 is the year where ultra-fast fulfillment becomes critical to business success.
Delivery speeds of 2-day, next-day, and same-day shipping have the power to:
- Distinguish your store
- Win customers
- Increase online visibility
- Satisfy customer needs
- Increase business resilience
- Reduce strain on your customer service team
Together, these benefits propel your eCommerce business forward to scale great heights. And, with ultra-fast fulfillment services that can handle allocating, storing, packing, and shipping for you, there is no excuse not to get started