5 Small Parcel Shipping Trends for 2019

 In Industry News

Small parcel shipping has become a key point of focus for most retailers. The need for rapid delivery to meet customer expectations combined with ever-increasing carrier rates means retailers need to get creative and micro-manage the details. Looking at shipping trends is a good way to identify beneficial changes you could make to keep ahead of the curve.

So here are 5 small parcel shipping trends to watch and plan for in 2019:

1. More Rate Increases

You’re already dealing with the 2019 rate hikes announced by the USPS, FedEx, and UPS at the end of last year. The average rate increase for both UPS and FedEx is 4.9%, but depending on your shipping profile, the actual increase that you see could well be higher. If you haven’t done so already, it’s a good time to analyze your shipping patterns to see where you’ll see the greatest increases and make a plan for how to mitigate them.

Trend Ahead: In 2018 both FedEx and UPS introduced mid-year rate hikes — expect that to be the pattern going forward. And look for rates to increase even more for large, difficult-to-ship items. As consumers get used to the convenience of equipping their entire house (and garage) from the comfort of their armchair, carriers will continue passing on to retailers the extra expense of transporting those items.

2. Delivery Creativity

Every year, consumers define “fast” more stringently, and retailers feel the pressure to keep up. Retailers and carriers alike are turning to creative delivery options to get the package to the consumer swiftly while still retaining profit margins. Some of the options being tested are bike delivery (UPS) and drone delivery (Amazon and others). Omni-channel shipping is the way of the future to drive both sales and operating efficiencies.

Trend Ahead: Watch Amazon. The ecommerce behemoth continues to lead the way with innovations on how to get items to customers faster. Other trends to watch for: 1) carriers consolidating or partnering more; 2) the use of delivery lockers or other stores (like Walgreens or Kroger’s) as pick-up locations to increase both delivery efficiency and customer convenience.

3. Focus on the Customer

Nothing new here, except this aspect of shipping has now become an imperative for retailers who want to ensure customer loyalty and retain market share. It is critical to respond promptly to all customer concerns, especially if they involve delivery delays or returns. This can be a make-or-break point for ecommerce retailers because it’s challenging to make a personal connection with a customer that you never see face to face. Prompt and personal response to customer concerns and inquiries is a key factor in making this connection and enhancing the customer experience to build brand loyalty.

Trend Ahead: Smart retailers will skillfully use the point where technology and people meet — the smartphone — to connect with their customers and personalize their experience. Twitter, text messaging, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Instagram . . . there are many existing channels for interacting directly with consumers. Keep up with trends in apps and messaging services that are popular with your customer base to be in the vanguard and make that connection before other retailers in your space do.

4. Focus on Packaging

DIM pricing (which takes both weight and size into account) and increasing surcharges for large or oddly shaped items has made it necessary for shippers to consider carefully how items are packaged.

Trend Ahead: Cartonization technology allows retailers more accurately estimate shipping costs at point of purchase and order entry while using cost-effective decisions to fulfill the orders.

5. Focus on the Environment

Investing in eco-friendly packaging makes sense: it’s a way to simultaneously make a positive impact on the environment and your customers. Reusing shipping materials and lowering shipping weight by using lighter materials can also bring down packaging and shipping costs.

Trend Ahead: Think outside the box. Recycled packaging tape is now available, and watch out for other eco-friendly packaging products to come on the market.

Thanks to the explosion of ecommerce, the shipping industry is in a period of constant and radical change. These are the small parcel shipping trends you need to stay on the leading edge of in 2019 to keep your customers happy and manage costs effectively.

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