Instagram recently trialled a new ecommerce platform which allowed a select group of US-based retailers to tag product photos with pricing information and descriptions. These so called ‘shoppable photos’ link directly to the retailers’ websites paving the way for a streamlined and simple purchase process. Instagram plans to monetize the feature by offering brands the opportunity to pay to share their shoppable photos with people who don’t already follow them on the social media site.

It’s easy to understand the hype around shoppable photos – Instagram users now number more than 500 million.  If retailers have a high level of customer engagement on Instagram then this new channel could drive sales. However, increased sales mean more deliveries. Our research shows that experiencing delays or delivery problems just twice would convince 87% of people to switch to another supplier. Therefore it is essential for retailers to have an effective delivery infrastructure in place as a precursor to embracing the latest ecommerce developments. As shoppable photos come into sharper focus what are the delivery factors retailers need to consider?

Get Flexible

Traditionally, offering a sole, standard delivery service may have been sufficient but as the retail landscape has evolved so too has the consumer. Today consumers want more than one option of how they receive their goods. The key with any delivery option is to offer convenience around the consumer. For example, parcel collection shops are now a common sight across major railway stations in the UK.

Keeping Track

Not only do consumers want the option of how they receive their goods but crucially when they receive their goods too. One way to improve delivery systems is to offer consumers the option to track their delivery. Trackable delivery has previously been an expensive choice, but the rise of online shopping and the subsequent power this has given the consumer has created demand for affordable trackable delivery options.

Coping With Increased Demand

It is key that retailers manage their customers’ expectations from the outset in terms of setting their delivery aims. Retailers must strike a delicate balance between taking on extra orders without compromising the overall quality of their delivery service. Slow or disrupted delivery can cost a retailer in terms of custom, so it is essential that firms understand the capacity of their delivery services so that they are not faced with unexpected delays should they see a sudden spike in orders.

Remembering Returns

(1) Offering a great returns service is crucial for retailers in establishing repeat custom and a good relationship with their customer.

Research by Harris Interactive shows that 85% of customers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle and, conversely, 95% will return to the same catalogue or internet retailer if the process is convenient.

The returns process can be a massive deterrent for online shoppers if not handled correctly. A successful returns service should be simple to operate and inexpensive.

Social Media Scruples

(2) The proliferation of social media has presented fresh challenges for retailers in terms of their delivery services. Firstly, customers will interact with brands via platforms such as Instagram or Twitter to enquire about their deliveries.

The immediacy that is generally associated with digital platforms means that customers expect a fast response – a survey found that the 72% of people who raised a concern on Twitter expected a response within the hour.  Retailers should therefore be prepared for an increase in digital interactions that Instagram Shoppable photos are bound to bring.

Another concern for retailers in terms of social media is the vast platform it has created for customers to make complaints and the potential reputational risk this holds. It is of vital importance that delivery services are executed to the best standard possible to avoid the possibility of social media users airing their grievances online and publicly tarring the brands image.

With the development of new selling platforms such as shoppablephotos it is important that retailers not only keep up to date with these latest innovations but also judge which ones might fit their business and how the delivery and fulfilment process will be affected. A third-party expert with the necessary knowledge, contacts and expertise, can help retailers develop a delivery system that is flexible and efficient, tailored to the particular requirements of the business and equipped to deal with the challenges of today and beyond.

Interesting articles:

Notes   [ + ]

1. Mail Online, “Now you can shop from a selfie: Instagram tests new shoppable photos that let users buy with a click’, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3895002/Now-shop-selfie-Instagram-tests-new-shoppable-photos-lets-users-buy-click.html, 1 November 2016,
2. Hubspot, http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-response-time-data, 23rd July 2014

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About The Author

Managing Director of P2P Mailing

Paul Galpin, Managing Director of P2P Mailing, has been involved within the mailing industry for over 20 years. He started in express international courier in 1995, and has been involved in mail and express distribution to the present day, having worked for various independent and global distribution businesses, including DHL Global Mail, where he was Sales Director in the UK and Ireland for some 5 years. Paul was a founding member of P2P Mailing, starting in January 2009.