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Customers today "have very high expectations in terms of getting product to homes in a very short time," says Escobar. They expect free returns and pinpoint tracking information on their orders.
Contrary to the predictions of some that free shipping will eventually go away, Escobar says customers have been trained to expect it, or at the very least nominal charges for delivery. The challenge for retailers is offering the best possible service while preserving the bottom line. "Ultimately," says Escobar, "I think free shipping is here to stay."
As a clothing rental service, Gwynnie Bee must deal with a 100-percent returns rate. To cope with that bidirectional flow, it is examining how to create consolidation centers that would return product back to the distribution center within two to three days. "I've had lot of consultants come through our D.C., scratching their heads when they see the returns process in the middle of it," says Escobar. "It's part of the cost of the model."
Gwynnie Bee is also looking at alternative methods of delivery, including locker services and an Uber-like option for getting orders to the customer. "That's something that's very exciting for us," says Escobar. Other service features in demand by customers today include the regular updating of shipping capabilities and order tracking on social media.
"We're continuing to drive streamlined information about packages," Escobar says.
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