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4 ways to ease ecommerce delivery anxiety

illustration of a hand holding a lit bomb with a clock on the front of it. next to the bomb are the words ‘hurry up!’ with smoke coming from them.

Online shopping is accessible and convenient – but it can also be very stressful for your customers. 

Why? Because while ecommerce might be a byword for ease, your customers still invest a lot of time and energy into the online shopping journey. But once they hit ‘purchase’, all consumers can do is wait – and so the anxiety builds. 

But staying in constant communication with your customers and providing them with the information they need will go a long way towards easing delivery anxiety.

What is delivery anxiety?

Delivery anxiety is the feeling that many consumers experience when faced with a lack of information about the cost or status of their online order. It causes customers to worry whether they’re going to get their purchase as promised – and can even drive them to cancel orders and seek alternatives elsewhere.

So, what makes ecommerce so anxiety-inducing? It comes down to the lack of tangibility. 

Unlike in brick and mortar, online shoppers don’t get the immediate gratification of receiving a product and taking it home. They’re emotionally and financially invested in a product they haven’t seen in person. Until their order arrives, consumers have no way of knowing whether it’s suitable or in good condition – and this often creates a sense of unease. 

Why is delivery anxiety a problem for ecommerce businesses?

In ecommerce, customer satisfaction relies on the shopping journey being as seamless as possible. But delivery anxiety adds a major source of friction – and this is a problem for customer retention.

The post-purchase experience holds a lot of significance within ecommerce due to the delay between purchasing and gratification. When a customer places an order with a vendor, they expect to receive ongoing care until their purchase arrives and the shopping journey has concluded.

So, if your business abandons customer care once a sale has taken place, your customer is going to feel neglected – and they’re unlikely to shop with you again. According to eMarketer, 55% of US consumers say that just one negative experience would stop them from shopping with a brand again.

By working to ease delivery anxiety, you can massively improve the post-purchase experience – which means more loyal customers for your business.

1. Be transparent about shipping costs

It’s sometimes overlooked that can delivery anxiety can start before an online order is even placed – when your customer reaches the checkout.

Why? Because this is the moment of commitment, and where they could be surprised by unexpected delivery costs. Unsurprisingly, this lack of transparency can put a real damper on the customer experience – and might persuade them to abandon their purchase altogether.

Surprise delivery costs are the biggest reason for cart abandonment, with 74% of consumers having done so at some point, according to a study by Barilliance.

To alleviate anxiety, the best thing you can do is to disclose your shipping costs on all of your product pages. This means consumers can make an informed purchasing decision – rather than being sabotaged at the last moment.

Consumers are showing a strong preference for free shipping, but this isn’t possible for all businesses. Alternatively, you can give consumers more flexibility by offering multiple shipping options at different price points, which gives them greater agency over the delivery process.

2. Provide regular status updates

Ever heard of the saying ‘No news is good news?’ This definitely doesn’t apply when customers are awaiting their online orders! 

When an order is placed, consumers little insight into what happens during the fulfillment process. If they don’t know whether their order has been received or when it’s being shipped, this is a major source of delivery anxiety.

Remember that your business is the sole source of information for your customers. So, the only way they’re going to know the status their order is if you make an effort to tell them.

To make the post-purchase experience as smooth as possible, you should offer updates at the following points:

  • When you receive their order.
  • When their order has begun the fulfillment process
  • When their order has been shipped.
  • When the order has been delivered.

You have the option to give your customers these updates via email or live chat, but SMS also shouldn’t be overlooked. For businesses using the Whiplash platform, you can update your Shopify store customers automatically with regular status updates via our Shopify integration.

3. Reduce last-mile delivery times

The so-called ‘last-mile’ of delivery is the most challenging stage for retailers and 3PLs. Slower travel time, more idling, and failed delivery all add up to the last-mile costing retailers more than half of an order’s total shipping costs – and slow or even delayed delivery for your customers

There’s nothing more likely to cause anxiety than a late delivery. While circumstances can occur that are beyond your control, focusing on eliminating last-mile delivery issues will go a long way towards speeding up delivery.

So, how can you lessen last-mile delivery anxieties?

Route optimization. Millions of miles are lost every year through trucks taking indirect delivery routes to customers’ homes, which can lengthen travel times significantly. Technologies such as route planning and GPS enable your drivers to optimize their schedules and shave unnecessary time off delivery.

Real-time tracking. Allowing your customers to track delivery in real-time means they can reassure themselves that their delivery is on its way and measure its progress – which takes a lot of pressure off your customer care team.

Multi-node fulfillment. Instead of fulfilling orders from a single warehouse, consider using a network of facilities that can process orders according to their proximity to the end customer. This cuts down last-mile transportation time significantly.

The last-mile can be a tricky area to navigate without experienced logistics guidance, so it’s worth considering partnering with a fulfillment provider to address these inefficiencies.

4. Be open about the returns process

Returns might appear to have little to do with the delivery process, but it’s deeply intertwined in the context of the post-purchase experience. Because after asking when their order is going to arrive, a customer’s next question is likely to be “what happens if it isn’t right?”

Returns can be a major hassle, so reassurance about this process will go a long way towards easing delivery anxiety in your customers. Best of all, this actually encourages them to make that initial purchase, with 49% of consumers saying that they actively check a retailer’s return policy before purchasing.

So, rather than waiting until a customer acquires about the returns process, you can pre-empt this by putting your policy in the footer of your website, and including the main details and link to your returns portal within your order confirmation emails – thereby alleviating anxiety before it starts.

Delivery is the most important touchpoint in the ecommerce customer journey – and it’s critical for online retailers to get it right. When customers feel informed and supported during the post-purchase experience, they’ll experience much lower levels of delivery anxiety. This means a higher likelihood of repeat purchases and more support for your brand as it grows.

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