Can you have your cake and eat it with multi-carrier shipping?

4 April 2024 | 15 Shares

Source: Global Freight Solutions

Before the impact of the current economic downturn began to taper off the demand for goods delivered to the door, retailers and carriers experienced something of a boom in turnover.

However, since the world’s purse strings tightened in the last six months, shoppers are more considered in their choices and are significantly more price-sensitive. They also spend more time researching purchases and exhibit less brand loyalty than they used to be able to.

Retailers are seeing a rise in cart abandonment, with around one in three potential sales online not completed. Given that competition is fierce on ticket price as a natural consequence of poor economic circumstances, the reasons for cart abandonment are often found in those final options at the checkout: delivery and returns options.

“Of course, retailers understand that, because they’re consumers themselves,” says Bobbie Ttooulis, Group Marketing Director of GFS, speaking to Tech HQ exclusively. “Everybody needs convenience, needs breadth of options for delivery. But what prevents retailers from offering […] more options and bringing on board a new service, a new carrier, is that it means an IT integration, and a relationship to manage, another invoice, another contract…and the complexity and cost of all that is just not scalable. That’s why retailers need to think differently about how they offer multi-carrier services – it doesn’t have to mean working with multiple carriers.”

Multiple shipping options

Bobbie Ttooulis, Group Marketing Director of GFS. Source: Global Freight Solutions

Understanding the changing attitudes of customers and prospects is at the heart of understanding how to bring those cart abandonment rates down. And while offering free delivery helps address cost concerns, Bobbie said it’s by no means the only factor. “It’s down to breadth of choice because you can’t second guess what [a customer’s] priority is at that moment in time, or what their circumstances are. All you can do is offer as broad enough a selection of delivery options so that whether their key driver is cost or speed or convenience, provided you try to cover those bases, then you’ve got a good chance of being able to satisfy whatever their requirements are going to be at that point in time.”

The number of preferred delivery options may come as a surprise to many. A survey of over 2,000 UK consumers conducted by Retail Economics puts the benchmark between five and six. That ideal number would give shoppers access to services from same/next day to low-cost, long-wait deliveries for items that are low priority. Returns options, too, are important. Customers often consider ease of returns as insurance; the simplicity offers reassurance that purchases are low-risk.

The technology behind offering multiple shipping options at the point of sale is relatively simple with GFS Checkout, part of GFS’ multi-carrier platform – it’s a single integration within the retailer’s existing e-commerce platform, like Magento or BigCommerce. The technology is pre-configured with 1000+ delivery options for domestic and international, and gives retailers the control to add or remove services in real-time without the need for expensive IT involvement.

Multiple shipping options

Source: Global Freight Solutions

Of course, retailers could manually ‘plumb in’ other carriers’ options. But it’s not necessarily the best approach. GFS acts as a single aggregator for telemetry from multiple carriers and becomes the single point of contact between the retailer and multiple logistics providers.

A multi-carrier approach helps mitigate risk and protect service performance and customer experience by ensuring that deliveries get made, no matter what. Bobbie told us, “Having contingency in your final mile delivery process is vital. We saw many retailers get caught out when Royal Mail went on strike during Peak last year. Whether it’s a strike, bad weather, or missed collection from the warehouse – whatever the reason, you have to be confident that your parcels can get to where they need to be. Having a multi-carrier partner in the background who can switch your parcels seamlessly from one carrier to another mitigates risk and gives you peace of mind that your delivery is safe.”

Early on, we discussed price sensitivity as a large factor in cart abandonment rates. Having a bulk carrier buyer in the form of GFS means retailers can benefit from its buying power and volume pricing that probably wouldn’t be available to even some of the larger retailers in the UK. Conversely, high-ticket brands might want to offer choices that focus on convenience, delivery timing, insurance and (sometimes) discretion. Again, retailers working with a single multi-carrier partner like GFS, can access those services and more, giving them all the advantages of multi-carrier delivery without the overhead of doing it with multiple carriers.

Customer queries are also routed through a single point, with GFS representatives handling all contacts with contracted carriers. That removes the human complexity traditionally associated with multi-carrier options: who to contact, in which time zone, using which language.

The same homogeneity of systems extends to logistics operations, too, if required. “Our technology will also integrate with the standard warehouse management systems that retailers use to pick, pack and fulfil an order. It will integrate to produce the labelling. Once that parcel has been shipped, then the next leg in our technology enables track-and-trace of that parcel […] and [data] flows into customer service teams,” Bobbie told us.

Multiple shipping options

Source: Global Freight Solutions

The high standards in customer care and CX established by global multinationals with comprehensive in-house logistics are now available to companies looking to differentiate themselves from competitors in these austere times.

UK-based GFS is a leading provider of managed multi-carrier delivery and returns services. They offer over 1,000 carrier services in more than 220 destinations in the UK, Europe and worldwide. GFS also offers access to 320,000 returns drop-off points and 75,000 Click & Collect locations.

Those are significant statistics for companies looking to compete with household name retailers with the funds to offer customers every convenience and broad choice of delivery and returns services.

To find out how easy it is to complement your existing logistics with multi-carrier services, speak to a representative from GFS.