We’re coming up on that most wonderful time of year, and it’s especially so for online retailers. But the rise in seasonal sales isn’t without its risks, particularly with ecommerce orders that depend on well-stocked warehouses, frictionless logistics, and on-time deliveries.

One challenge that’s only getting more difficult for the online retail industry to contend with is a rise in stolen packages. Often referred to as “porch pirates,” package thieves are taking advantage of an uptick in online shopping deliveries and leaving your customers with the fallout — frantically contacting customer service centers, filing police reports, and ultimately left feeling violated, powerless, and empty handed.

What’s the deal with porch pirates?

Porch piracy isn’t just a problem to be dealt with during the seasonal rush, however — thieves can strike any time of the year, at any time of day. Even if a customer is waiting patiently at home for the delivery, thieves might still sneak up and grab what’s not theirs.

To help drive home the risk posed by this on-the-rise phenomenon, here are some interesting — and disturbing — stats about porch pirates and their proliferation in today’s booming ecommerce era:

Porch piracy
  • 1 in 4 people report being a victim of package theft and nearly half know someone who has had a package stolen.
  • The national theft rate in metro areas is almost 17 incidents per 1,000 people.
  • Police are only able to make an arrest in fewer than 10 percent of porch pirate cases reported.

Why should retailers get ahead of package theft?

Package theft is just as big of a problem for online retailers as it is for their customers, if not a bigger one. Even though it may not be a retailer’s fault should a package get swiped off the front porch, the negative customer experience can reflect poorly on the brand, and according to our latest research, drive at least a quarter of affected customers away permanently. It’s important for online retailers to take steps where they can to help protect customers from porch pirates to help ease their minds and win their hearts. If you can swoop in and save the day should something be amiss, your customers will appreciate you all the more for it — and they’ll remember that extra care the next time they decide whether they want to shop with you.

3 ways to help protect your customers

  • Clearly communicate anticipated delivery timelines: This helps customers choose their own delivery adventure upfront – they can choose a time that’s more convenient for them to be available to receive their packages on a specific day or at a specific time. Especially during the busy holiday season when delivery times can be impacted by sheer volume, it’s crucial to give your customers visibility into when they should expect a package to show up.
  • Let them know when to expect a package delivery in real-time: Real-time package tracking allows customers to keep tabs on their online orders so they know exactly when they can expect to see a package show up on their doorstep or in the office mailroom. At Route, for instance, we help retailers manage this issue by offering consumers access to Visual Tracking™, which automatically allows them to visually track all in-transit packages in one place.
  • Provide an option for shipping insurance directly at checkout: Another way to ease your customers’ anxieties about the risk of package theft is by making it as easy as possible to handle the issue if it does in fact occur. Including the option for customers to add package protection at the point of checkout helps drive conversions because it guarantees they won’t be stuck empty handed in the unfortunate case of theft. Route offers one-click claim filing and reordering in case of package theft, for instance, all within a branded experience that instantly brings customers back to your site.

The problem of porch pirates is unlikely to go away anytime soon. As ecommerce purchases continue to rise, so too will attempts to snatch unwatched packages on front porches and doorsteps. To help their customers feel more confident about purchasing online despite the risk of package theft, online retailers must do what they can to ensure they’ve got those customers backs.

Learn more about how you can help care for your ecommerce customers in the case of package lost, damaged or stolen packages, by offering order protection at checkout with Route.

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