As e-commerce continues to boom in the digital age, the products being purchased on-line are expanding. One example is an increase in consumers purchasing furniture and home goods on-line.
For manufacturers and retailers, the good news is that there is a growing e-commerce market for their products. The challenging part is how large, bulky items like sofas and large screen televisions reach the end consumers. Large and small brick and mortar retailers have provided this service for a long time for a fee, with products being delivered from their local stores or distribution centers. The experience was not very customer friendly, with only certain delivery days, large time windows for delivery, and extra fees for a lot of assessorials.
In today’s market, customers expect items like furniture and appliances to be delivered to their homes, uncrated, set up and all packaging and the old products removed. And, they expect the same flexibility with these deliveries as small parcel.
White Glove Service Requires Technology and the Human Touch
White Glove operations require high levels of visibility throughout the shipping cycle. Providers must have the ability to schedule home deliveries, optimize routes, provide real-time updates to the end consumer who is receiving the shipment and have a process for handling missed deliveries, if a customer is not at home to accept the delivery.
Beyond technology, “White Glove” service relies on the human touch for success. On-time and intact are not enough. Drivers are expected to
be clean, have good hygiene and to be courteous and polite. Tripping over the family dog or getting dirt on the carpet can turn a positive delivery experience into a customer complaint.
Meeting delivery requirements can be more challenging because customers now select the day to receive their goods within a small delivery window. And, as consumers utilize multiple technologies in their homes, delivery drivers are asked to go beyond unpackaging an appliance and plugging it into an electrical outlet. They must also ensure that the new device is set up to operate within the home’s Wi-Fi ecosystem.
Tips for Choosing a White Glove Service Provider
Companies make buying decisions for many reasons. One retailer may choose White Glove service providers solely based on price Others are looking for providers that a positive customer experience. Some factors to consider when for choosing a White Glove services provider:
- Are your products fragile or high value goods?
- Is there any degree of complexity in “training” the end consumer about how to set up or use the product?
- Are their systems robust enough to provide visibility throughout the shipping process?
- Is the provider a broker or are they performing the actual service with their own employees?
- How are extras (assessorial charges for stairs, long driveways, wooden floor protection) handled?
- How are complaints handled, and what is the process for follow up?
- Do they do surveys to assess customer satisfaction?
- How does the provider perform in areas that you view as key performance indicators (KPIs) like safety records or on-time service?
Why Should Companies Provide White Glove Service?
Today’s consumers have high expectations – whether buying a relatively low-cost item or a major appliance like a large screen television. And, when expectations are not met, consumers will choose other products/vendors. Some surveys show that 75 percent of e-commerce shoppers will choose one retailer versus another based on past delivery experiences. Utilizing a well-vetted White Glove service provider may be a key to keeping customers happy and generating repeat sales in a competitive market