Why does the expected delivery date matter in e-commerce?

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes actions that take place to ensure your package reaches you in time. Despite the different variables involved, here’s how expected delivery dates are adhered to 94 percent of the time.

Why does the expected delivery date matter in e-commerce?

Thursday February 27, 2020,

5 min Read

Do you see the ‘expected delivery date’ estimate on e-commerce websites? You probably don’t pay it too much attention. After all, it’s just another piece of information that you process and tuck away in a corner of your mind.

You will probably take notice of it only when your delivery exceeds the timeframe mentioned. On those rare instances, most of us get annoyed, even if the delivery is delayed by just a day.

But have you ever stopped to consider the miracle that the modern logistical supply chain is? Let me put this statement into perspective. Every order you make has to come from somewhere. In most instances, that somewhere is a warehouse hundreds of kilometres away, in an entirely different state or even country. Over the course of the average delivery, your shipment covers vast distances by air or land, travels through multiple cities and storage facilities, transported by air, train, truck, and bike, and gets passed between a small army of couriers, before finally landing safely at your doorstep.

E-Commerce Delivery

Over the course of this long and complicated journey, there are hundreds of places where things could have gone wrong – a truck might have been delayed due to roadwork or an accident, a shipment could have been delayed because of a sick handler, rains might hamper the last-mile delivery, and so on and so forth. With so many touchpoints where things can go wrong, accounting for every variable is all but impossible. And yet, despite all of this, there is a 94 percent probability that you received the shipment exactly as predicted.

Let us see just why providing and meeting estimated delivery dates are key for businesses to survive and thrive.

Drives impulse purchases

For the vast majority of consumers, convenience is the key differentiating factor between shopping online and in person. While the former involves nothing beyond selecting a product and awaiting its delivery, the latter requires a great deal more effort and exertion. It’s this ease of selection and delivery that drives impulse purchases on e-commerce websites. Consisting primarily of items such as chocolate, clothing, and accessories, impulse purchases are all about the feel-good factor and instant gratification. They’re driven by emotion rather than logic, and the certainty offered by an exact delivery date only facilitates this choice. But fail to provide an estimated date, or force a purchaser to think over a shipping speed schedule, and the urge to purchase something rapidly fades away. With it goes potential sales and a substantial source of revenue.

Builds customer trust

The e-commerce sector is one of tremendous competition and fine margins. In this cutthroat atmosphere, any business that hopes to succeed must commit itself to build customer trust and establishing a loyal consumer base.

The provision of accurate and reliable delivery dates goes a long way towards achieving these goals. By offering an exact date of delivery, and communicating with the customer on the progress of their shipment at every stage, a business proves its reliability and commitment to consumer satisfaction. This proactive stance by a business proves to customers that they care, and reduces the chances of an order being cancelled.

On the other hand, providing an estimated delivery date and failing to meet it can have serious repercussions for a business. Customer expectations go unfulfilled, the brand value and image drop, and negative word of mouth can cause a substantial erosion of value and revenue.

Preserves company resources

As highlighted above, accurately determining delivery dates is no mean feat for any e-commerce company. It requires a tremendous amount of resources, immense logistical planning, the implementation of a wide array of highly-advanced tools, and systems such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and no small measure of luck. It is therefore understandable for a company to choose to forego that option and display a ‘shipping speed’ chart instead. However, going with this option frequently ends up costing a business more in the long run.

This is best demonstrated by considering the breadth of resources required to deal with unhappy customers who have failed to receive their order within the stipulated shipping period. Every customer call incurs a huge cost. This is especially true of complaint calls that tend to be frequent, lengthy, and difficult to resolve. Unless quickly resolved, these Where Is My Order (WISMO) have a tendency to turn into order cancellations and Return to Origin (RTO) orders, causing the overall cost to the company to further balloon. With this in mind, it’s clear to see why an investment in logistics intelligence platforms rapidly pays off.

AI plays a key role in powering modern supply chain operations. Millions of data points come together in split seconds to deliver on a customer’s unrealistic expectations, without them ever knowing it. For example, our platform looks at historical data using multiple dimensions and applies advanced predictive intelligence to estimate the most probable delivery time period.

It then keeps on monitoring the actual delivery date of all shipments to ensure that any errors are captured and the system learns from it to make the next prediction better. The end result – an expected delivery date a customer can rely on.

Naman Vijay is CEO and Co-Founder of ClickPost

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)