You might think otherwise, but getting e-commerce orders delivered to the hands of consumers should work as easily as buying items in a physical store — to the extent where it's possible.
This actually creates a huge opportunity for online merchants.
By building an effective, data-driven delivery strategy that includes multiple delivery options that fit people's life — every time, at every purchase — e-commerce businesses can scale, optimize their checkout experience, and increase shipping revenue.
Look at deliveries from the consumer's perspective. When you understand what your customers expect, you're able to offer the best delivery service and, by extension, achieve better conversion and retention.
Keep reading to explore what delivery options you're likely to be missing out on — featuring some successful examples in the Swedish market — and how you can start implementing a scalable delivery strategy already today.
- What are e-commerce delivery options?
- Why do offering multiple shipping options matter?
- What delivery options can you offer?
- What's the best delivery method in e-commerce?
What are e-commerce delivery options?
E-commerce delivery options — also known as last-mile delivery methods, shipping options, or shipping services — refer to various ways of transferring online purchases from your warehouse shelves to the customer's hands. The list typically includes:
→ home delivery;
→ mailbox delivery;
→ pick-up point;
→ parcel locker;
→ in-store pick up;
→ instant delivery.
This doesn't necessarily mean that you have to offer all of them. Having a good e-commerce delivery strategy comes down to knowing what your customers need, and finding the right balance between those needs and what’s viable for your business.
Why do offering multiple e-commerce shipping options matter?
There are plenty of factors that come into play when it comes to online shopping and decision-making. Yet it's often failed expectations and frustration over the lack of suitable delivery methods that end up in excessive cart abandonment figures and fierce competition.
95% of consumers go elsewhere if an online store doesn’t offer the desired delivery option.
Think about it. When shopping online, consumers expect to pay for convenience in the first place. Yes, e-commerce comes with greater choices and likely better deals, but those are only secondary motivations.
85% of online consumers in Europe say that a poor delivery experience would prevent them from a repeat purchase with the same online retailer again.
No matter the quality, value, curation, and sustainability of your products — an awkward shopping journey, and faulty delivery experience will make your prospects close the tab and go with a direct competitor that offers their desired shipping option.
Online delivery options that fit
Here, it goes without saying that e-commerce deliveries are very contextual and dynamic.
How the consumers want their orders delivered varies a lot depending on what they’re buying and when. Consumer habits, seasons, item specifications and estimated delivery times are some of the factors that determine which last-mile shipping option works for a given purchase.
— In addition to being key to customer satisfaction, last-mile delivery is both the most expensive and time-consuming element of the shipping process [...], Fredrik Hamilton, CEO & Co-founder at Instabee says in an interview for Authority Magazine.
When customers are happy, they are more likely to spread the good experience with friends, family, and coworkers because, like you, you want them to commit to a brand that you trust.
Being able to meet consumer needs, no matter the order, has been crucial for building customer loyalty.
Don't think short-term, think in the long run. Invest in the long-term value of a seamless delivery experience that will surpass a mediocre, if not bad, consumer impression no matter the purchase.
There can never be too many e-commerce delivery service alternatives
Successful e-commerce businesses know the importance of choosing the right carriers, and it doesn't just mean looking for a reliable supplier. It's about finding the right fit to help you offer the best delivery experience for every consumer.
Nothing provides a better value than signing with not one, but multiple carrier companies at once. Entering new markets and scaling your business is a lot easier when you can offer the best local carrier services with as many delivery methods as possible.
With all being said, implementing a delivery strategy is complex, especially from a technical standpoint. Without the right technology at hand, that is. For now, though, it's time to figure out:
What delivery options can you offer?
Let's review each delivery method case by case, featuring some real-life examples of successful implementation in the Swedish e-commerce market.
The home delivery method includes any type of delivery at the consumer's residential or commercial address. It implies maximum convenience for your buyers in theory, but not always in practice.
In most cases, your customers need to answer the door and receive the goods personally, and there's a catch.
First, most of the packages are delivered during regular working hours when recipients are frequently absent from their homes. Second, after customers receive a notification on the day of delivery, it's often unclear when exactly the courier will ring at the door.
Why is this still a thing?
- Vague delivery tracking that doesn't cover all stages of the delivery process;
- Lack of an accurate, specific delivery promise before and after the purchase;
- Home delivery times often neglect conventional life patterns and schedules;
- Mistakes and inaccuracies in the customer's address at delivery checkout.
Imagine the frustration and anxiety that comes with that — you customer service representatives can attest to that — especially if consumers are awaiting multiple deliveries within the same week with no delivery estimates whatsoever.
That's an easy fix, actually.
Display accurate, specific delivery times
Joyful delivery experiences are not only about free, overnight shipping. You need to be focusing on when, not how soon, as well as help your consumers feel in control of the process by letting them choose a preferred method of multiple last-mile delivery services.
Here's when tech solutions come to the rescue. Ingrid Checkout, for example, is a delivery selection module that integrates into the merchant's checkout page.
By accurately and clearly presenting delivery information for every customer — including delivery times, price, and available carriers — Ingrid makes it possible to offer flexible delivery options and contextually tailor the whole experience to the specific shopping cart and consumer preferences.
Offer delivery during the day, in the evenings, and on weekends
Let your consumers choose from several carriers with very flexible home delivery hours, from early morning until late at night, including weekends.
To give you some examples from the Swedish market:
- Early Bird and Dooris distribute packages at night, seven days a week, which means deliveries are right at the customer's doorstep or in the mailbox when they wake up in the morning. Such a business model became possible thanks to the initiative of Sweden’s leading media houses and their distribution companies that now deliver online orders together with the morning newspaper;
- Other Swedish carrier companies, such as Best and Bring, offer deliveries late in the evenings, between 7 and 10 PM, as well as on weekends, which gives consumers increasing flexibility in line with equally increasing delivery expectations.
Reduce failed delivery attempts with an intelligent address form
Most missed delivery attempts and silent returns are caused by address mistakes. According to Fixing Failed Deliveries study by Loqate, 41% of deliveries are delayed and 39% fail altogether when delivery addresses have mistakes or inaccuracies.
Ingrid Delivery Address Form means no unnecessary manual work, no duplicates of the same data, no errors when entering address details — everything is verified and saved without too much trouble for the end consumer.
Delivery to the mailbox — a type of home delivery, in a sense — appears to be more convenient in terms of flexibility from the customer's perspective, but it also comes with multiple limitations to the delivery process itself.
Mailbox deliveries are limited to items that:
- weigh up to 5kg and fit in the letterbox;
- don't require expedited shipping (meaning two-, next- and same-day delivery);
- don't require secure shipping, meaning expensive products with extra handling care.
If the package doesn't fit into either category, it will be delivered to the customer's door or the pick-up point in the respective zip code area.
Some Swedish carriers differentiate between home and mailbox deliveries, both of which your consumers can choose from at checkout depending on the type of products your online business sells.
Here's a real-life example from Adlibris, Sweden's e-commerce pure-play giant and the largest bookstore in the Nordics, where mailbox deliveries fit just perfectly into the inexpensive book and stationery orders. Ingrid Checkout intelligently pre-selects mailbox delivery to make life easier for consumers already at e-commerce checkout.
Pick-up points, on the other hand, are locations where customers can collect or return their online orders.
For the purposes of this article, we differentiate pick-up points from pick-up in-store and parcel lockers as designated parcel collection points at carrier service locations, supermarkets, press stores, etc.
What are the advantages?
- Stress-free delivery. It's the second delivery method that beats the anxiety of home deliveries. Consumers visit the pick-up point at a convenient time.
- Lower costs. Because carriers transport scores of parcels to the same location, it typically costs less.
But, pick-up points also mean:
- Limited flexibility. Your customers can only visit the collection point within business hours;
- ID requirement. It's common that pick-up points may require a customer's ID during collection, which makes it impossible to delegate the task to a partner or friend.
An electronic parcel locker — also known as a smart locker — is an automated package delivery system that carrier services use to store parcels for pick up with a PIN, QR code, or via a mobile app. Think of it as a temporary storage location in the final, last-mile stage of the delivery process.
Apart from the classic option of receiving items at home or at the closest pick-up point, parcel lockers allow customers to receive and return parcels outside of regular delivery hours. By doing so, customers are able to organize their time as they see fit.
Now, that's the epitome of convenient deliveries:
- Consumer flexibility. Customers can pick up their deliveries at any time of day, 24/7, close to home, or in the areas they go to on a daily basis, without having to stand in line. With some carrier services, they can also extend their time to pick up a parcel for an additional fee and keep it safe until a more convenient moment;
- Last-mile efficiency. Standard parcel lockers accommodate up to 270 parcels, so the courier can drop off dozens of orders during a single delivery, which makes it a cheaper and more sustainable delivery method for every stakeholder.
There are not many disadvantages here, but parcel lockers may not always be a go-to delivery method for you and your consumers due to:
- Versatility. Parcel lockers, designed in various sizes to fit various parcel sizes, are perfect for standard packages — clothing, beauty, books, home decor, medium household appliances, etc. — to the exception of large, heavy orders;
- Carrying capacity. The capacity of parcel lockers cannot accommodate the staggering number of online deliveries during peak periods, including Black Friday, Christmas, and New Year.
More and more online retailers are beginning to rely on omnichannel sales that work as a strategic advantage in an extremely competitive environment.
"Omnichannel" means sales across multiple channels — physical shops, online storefronts, social media — in a seamlessly connected, unified experience.
If your e-commerce business has brick-and-mortar stores, consider offering in-store pickup for your online orders for:
- Same- and next-day delivery. The store-to-door solution allows for sending orders much faster, including same-day deliveries;
- Sustainability. Fulfilling e-commerce orders directly from stores can be your other way of reducing your CO2 footprint. In fact, according to a report from Accenture, the last-mile supply chain made possible by local fulfillment centers could lower last-mile delivery emissions by 17–26% by 2025.
Leverage your brick-and-mortar stores into micro-fulfillment hubs
Some of the real-life examples of this delivery strategy in practice include Nudie Jeans, a Gothenburg-based sustainable denim brand that ships to over 50 countries worldwide.
Apart from offering in-store pickup for free, Nudie Jeans has also been able to leverage its physical storefronts into local warehouses and fulfill web orders directly store-to-door. Not only has it shortened the delivery time, but also contributed to lowering greenhouse emissions through more sustainable delivery options for every purchase made.
Ingrid In-store supports merchants in using their brick-and-mortar stores as order fulfillment centers, both for last-mile deliveries and as pickup points across the globe. Behind the scenes, an order can be either fulfilled in the warehouse and then shipped to the store or assembled in the store if the items are already available on-shelf.
It's a great example of how smart logistics can be used to make companies more sustainable and profitable while giving consumers the ever-increasing power of choice and convenience at the same time.
Speaking of store-to-door delivery services...
Changing consumer demands brought about the emergence of new shopping behaviors — one of them being instant delivery (also referred to as quick commerce, q-commerce, or on-demand delivery).
Quick commerce combines the benefits of traditional e-commerce with innovations in last-mile delivery and offers convenient urban delivery to the customer's doorstep:
- 15- to 30-minute delivery. Streamline your order fulfillment process and cut down delivery time from days to minutes;
- Cheaper, greener deliveries. An instant delivery company operates within a small delivery radius in a specific city district, most commonly with a greener two-wheel fleet of bikes and electric scooters — lower logistical costs, lower carbon dioxide emissions;
- No wasted stock. Similarly to an in-store pick-up or click-and-collect, if the customer's local store has an immediately available stock of the ordered item, it's a bargain for your physical stores to remain in play and your consumers to fulfill their urgent shopping needs.
While leading online retailers team up with q-commerce startups to enable instant deliveries, quick commerce carriers begin to emulate traditional carriers in certain markets to be listed in the e-commerce checkout next to PostNord, DHL, or DB Schenker.
— The challenge for the riders and quick commerce is to be on top of the mind for the e-commerce consumer when they place the order, Anders Ekman, Co-Founder & COO at Ingrid, explains. Many online merchants will try to reach out to q-commerce companies and propose their solutions. There has to be software that can support that.
Integrate with q-commerce carriers to deliver in 15 minutes
Foodora, the most popular restaurant food delivery platform in the Nordics, has been offering on-demand delivery of other categories of goods than food takeaway and grocery items for the past few years now.
With Ingrid as a e-commerce solution to connect the dots, Foodora was able to move into the e-commerce checkout space and be listed as an on-demand delivery method alongside traditional carriers.
E-commerce merchants that use Ingrid for deliveries and have a wide network of physical stores in densely populated areas are offering Foodora as an instant and sustainable delivery method. Among others, it has successfully partnered with Kronans Apotek, Sweden's third-largest pharmacy chain, to deliver on-demand over-the-counter items already at the end of 2021.
What's the best delivery method in e-commerce?
There's no such thing.
It truly depends on your product selection and demand, delivery strategy, order fulfillment process, and the market(s) you're operating in. The rule of thumb — it's all about convenience.
Listen to your consumers, don't treat every market as one-size-fits-all, and include a range of as many delivery options as you can, especially if you care about sustainability.
Speaking of: Sustainable delivery may not be a priority for all consumers just yet, but there's clear evidence that shoppers are expecting more environmental responsibility from e-commerce delivery methods.
— The key is to offer choice since the greenest delivery option will always depend on the context, a logistics consultant Martin Jungerts says in an interview with Columbus.
Home delivery in cities could be the most eco-friendly since you can provide them by bicycle or electric vehicles, he explains. At the same time, it could be the worst option in the countryside if you are delivering one package over a long distance.
On the other hand, pick-up-at-store could be efficient if the store is close to the customer’s workplace, but inefficient if they need to go by car just to pick up the order.
Display multiple delivery options with solutions like Ingrid Checkout — specify which carrier products are contracted, what are the warehouse locations, and what are the desired delivery prices & times.
You can then A/B test each delivery alternative to find out what works best for your consumer base.
Based on your settings, the right delivery options can be presented in real-time on the checkout page for every customer, arranged depending on business needs and consumer's context — e.g., the purchase market, cart contents — and delivery method categories, should you have contracts with different carriers with similar services.
You’re one step away from scaling your business. Book a demo to get yourself started.