Just when we thought ecommerce peak season couldn’t get any bigger, 2021 is on track to break all records set in 2020. Even if growth will decelerate somewhat, we’re still predicting 11% growth on the astronomical ecommerce delivery volumes witnessed at the height of COVID-19. The question is, will retailers’ delivery experience withstand the pressure?

Ecommerce peak season is always a huge customer acquisition opportunity. But it is also a major customer retention risk. 81% of consumers had a bad delivery experience in 2020, which was a five time increase on the previous year, and our research shows that more than one third of consumers would change retailers after a negative delivery experience. This peak season is clearly not one to compromise on delivery experience.

Delivery options to convert and retain

Offering a range of delivery options is always key to ecommerce conversions, and during peak season this is all the more important as shoppers crave certainty they’ll receive their orders in time for end of year celebrations or gift exchanges. If a customer leaves their holiday shopping to the last minute, tactics like ‘ship from store’ can help them get their order faster, while delivery options like ‘click and collect’ or collection points can bring delivery timeframes forward.

Home delivery might have remained the unsurprising favorite during the pandemic, but methods like lockers, PUDOs and in-store pickup are quickly growing in popularity. For example, one carrier partner Metapack works with experienced a 2% rise in the use of their lockers. They attribute this rise to the accessibility of their lockers, many of which are located at supermarkets or petrol stations that remained open and well-frequented during lockdowns.

This retail peak season, as the world gradually begins to reopen, we predict consumers will start favoring delivery methods that complement their reclaimed lives outside the home. For example, customers who get their orders delivered to PUDOs or lockers won’t need to worry about missing their delivery when they get called into the office – they can just stop by the locker box at the supermarket on their way home.

Uncomplicated tracking. Unbeatable customer experience.

When delivery volumes go up, so too do tracking queries. Over the past year, in some cases customer service center volumes spiked 600%. In a peak season set to break all records, who knows how high these will climb. It could be costly for you, and if you don’t play your cards right, it could also be frustrating for your customers.

Providing a centralized tracking portal is a great way to ensure a transparent and empowering experience for your customers. This is crucial – our research suggests that 85% of consumers say tracking is important. A tracking portal can also help reduce customer service center volumes, and subsequently reduce costs. The only challenge is that many third-party sites fail to standardize tracking data, leaving your customers confused – and more likely to contact you anyway.

Metapack’s own award-winning Delivery Tracker solution consolidates tracking data in simple and consistent language, regardless of the carrier. The site can also be tailored to your brand’s look and feel, for a seamless experience.

Get ready for peak returns

Like it or not, returns are an unavoidable part of ecommerce peak. And in 2021, returns are predicted to reach record heights. The trick is viewing them as part of a loyalty-building delivery experience, as opposed to a simple nuisance. And of course, using data, automation and forward-planning to limit their impact doesn’t hurt either!

Metapack’s own clients use our Returns Portal to provide their customers with a simple self-service returns experience that reduces the usual friction of returns. Customers can even make an exchange, avoiding a refund altogether. However, a solution like this also provides them with real-time returns data, which can help them plan for the items coming back into their inventory, as well as gaining invaluable insights into the reasons why their customers are returning certain product lines.

If there’s one takeaway to be drawn from our predictions for Peak 2021, it’s that last year’s ecommerce growth was more than just a flash in the pan. While growth rates will slow this year, we’re still predicting volumes over and above what we witnessed last year. The challenge for retailers lies in seizing the opportunity while guaranteeing a delivery experience that will keep customers coming back for more.

Find out more about Metapack’s post-purchase solutions here.