How this rural business is shortening delivery times
At a glance
Here’s a snapshot of the advice from our interviewee:
- Personal service and a beautiful product make up for a lot.
- Don’t forget to promote your shipping deadlines.
- Know when it’s time to step up and provide faster delivery options.
When Living Light first started, co-owner Cynthia Baur and her partner were selling across a counter.
“We only had three stockists who we delivered to,” Cynthia says, but that courier eventually stopped coming to Tākaka, where Living Light makes and packs luxurious candles in a converted former abattoir on an old dairy farm.
“It just wasn’t worth their while,” says Cynthia. “So, we made a deal with the local trucking company here that takes our deliveries to Nelson where the courier picks them up.”
How good customer service gives you a day up your delivery sleeve
Mother’s Day is the second biggest shopping event of the year for Living Light Candles. And they want to do right by their customers so those carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped handmade gifts reach their mark on time.
But Living Light Candles is hardly in the centre of a transport hub.
“People always ask me, how on earth do you do it all from there?” says co-owner Cynthia Baur. “You’re two hours from the airport in Nelson!”
But they do.
“We’ve been using the same courier service for 15 years,” explains Cynthia, “mostly because they are the least expensive service for shipping big parcels. We’ve trained our stockists so they understand a delivery will be two days for the South Island and three for the North Island. They are willing to accept that because the price is so good and we more than make up for that slower delivery time with customer service and a product they really love.”
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Cynthia uses the same service for online purchases and, again, customer service and communication are key to maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty.
“We always let new customers know what to expect around delivery and we send frequent mail outs to our VIP customer list to let them know what’s coming up and how soon they should order to ensure delivery for special occasions like Mother’s Day or Christmas. It’s essential that we promote those deadlines via email and social media,” she says.
“It’s not the same as, say, an urgent part for a computer or car. People understand that it’s a luxury, handmade product. But it’s still really important to people that a carefully chosen gift shows up on the right day.”
Customers also appreciate the trouble taken to pack their delicate products properly.
“In a way, packing is harder than candle-making,” explains Cynthia. “Our packers are very fast and very skilled at making sure the products go to the courier securely packaged. It’s like a jigsaw fitting it all together.”
From a week to one day – how things have changed
About 10 years ago, they set up the online store. “Customer expectation was very different back then – people were happy to wait a week for a delivery!”
Since then, the website has seen three upgrades and marketing has come to the forefront. And, as customer expectations continue to change, Cynthia is taking the first steps to tighten up delivery times for online purchases.
“I’ll be talking to the country’s top courier company to set up an overnight delivery option this year. It has to become part of our customer service and will make us more competitive. I’m always trying to think of what will make our customers happier. We currently offer free shipping for purchases over $90 and would aim to keep that in place when we can expedite delivery. It’s an offer that works really well for us and our customers.”
While COVID saw a 50% increase in business for Living Light, delays getting supplies into the country caused a few tense moments and a shipping container filled with product bound for Australia got held up by about a month as a result of the pandemic restrictions.
“It was tough but we managed and we learned a lot,” Cynthia says.
Shipping out to New Zealand customers wasn’t so affected.
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“The only problem we had over that period was when two orders were stolen because no signature-on-delivery was being offered during the pandemic. That was disappointing but otherwise, deliveries continued to go out around the country seamlessly.”
Outstanding customer service and a quality product beautifully packaged, have meant customers have been happy to wait an extra day for their deliveries. And good communication about special occasion deadlines means they have enough time to get their orders in.
But Cynthia is looking forward to being able to take the next step and start offering the all-important overnight delivery option.
“It will be in place for the next big one – Christmas.”
Want to show your customers you’ve got what it takes to deliver an amazing product and great service? Talk to us about how a Small Business Loan could help you start making your mark.
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