February 8, 2024
Sarah Seiler

Making a Case for Pre-Parcel Anxiety: Turning Customer Tension into Brand Trust

Picture this: the joy of clicking "buy now," followed by the uneasy limbo of waiting for your cherished purchase to arrive. You check your inbox religiously for updates. You're not alone in this; it's a tradition, a ritual that transcends the digital shopping realm.

This blog post delves into the phenomena of pre-parcel anxiety, exploring its psychology and uncovering the hidden opportunities it presents for businesses. From the science-backed endowment effect to the exciting shipping journey that often surpasses the thrill of ownership, we'll navigate the uncharted waters of the customer experience after “buy now”.

But this isn't just an exploration—it's a guide for businesses to turn this anxiety into a catalyst for brand trust. We can only meet customers where they’re at if we understand how they got there, and this informs an experience that leaves a lasting imprint. Join us as we unveil strategies to capitalize on the anticipation, provide transparent tracking, and make the shipping process an integral part of your brand's identity.

Welcome to the world of turning pre-parcel anxiety into a powerful tool for your business—a journey where tension transforms into trust and customers become loyal advocates. Let the adventure begin!

“I plan my whole weekends around expecting a package,” my niece confides, “it’s the grown-up equivalent of Christmas morning, but all year round.” And as an actual grown-up, I tend to agree with the 15-year-old’s sentiment.  

Anticipating a package’s arrival is somewhat of a ritual – I filter my inbox for any recent purchases and check in to see where they are and how long until the much-anticipated delivery date. Turns out I’m not the only one. Pre-parcel anxiety is real, and there’s even science to back it. 

Behavioral economics explains the psychology behind pre-parcel anxiety as the endowment effect, a phenomenon coined by economist Richard Thaler. The endowment effect is a cognitive bias that places more value on the items we own over those we don’t. When we shop online, the period between “buy now” and delivery is an uncomfortable limbo that does not neatly align with “having” or “not having.” We theoretically own something, but physically don’t have it yet. It’s an uneasy feeling and the reason why 94% of all online shoppers actively track some or all of their deliveries. 

How understanding the psychology can help your business

To combat anxieties, people track their packages. Interestingly, the shipping journey is often more exciting than actually owning the object. But why does this matter? 

We know that package recipients will likely experience anxiety and excitement between checkout and delivery. This means there’s an opportunity to capitalize on the excitement while working towards keeping anxieties low. One way to do this is to offer something visually familiar. Branding your tracking page creates a cohesive experience for your buyers instead of sending them to third parties. 

Make the most of the anticipation by using tracking pages to highlight or promote upcoming sales. At Arta, our branded tracking allows for a cover image, which can highlight upcoming sales or spark interest in an upcoming project. 

Another strategy to keep anxieties at bay is sending proactive shipping updates. Stay ahead of the tracking check-ins by sending updates directly to recipients' inboxes. Our email updates direct viewers to tracking pages rather than requiring onlookers to periodically revisit them. This proactive approach not only enhances the overall customer experience but also provides a sense of reassurance since customers remain informed without exerting any unnecessary effort. 

We also know the delivery process might require more parties than just the buyer. Tracking links can be shared with house managers, doormen, or security guards. While their information wasn’t shared at checkout, it’s also important to provide them with proactive updates. Our guest subscriptions enable visitors to sign up for email or SMS milestone notifications.

Why you should invest in transparency over speed 

A UPS survey revealed that other factors, like cost, are more important in choosing a shipping option than transit speed.  Many deliberately opt for a slower, more economical delivery option when a faster alternative is available at a higher cost. In alleviating pre-parcel anxiety, your business can focus on creating transparency throughout the shipment’s journey rather than just speeding it up.  

When not all shipments are created equal 

Depending on the specifications of your shipment, tracking milestones may be straightforward or a little more involved. At Arta, we’ve seen it all, so we’ve created a system to support all types of shipments. 

Let’s walk through an example of a lot sold at a New York auction. 

The buyer wants to send the work to the framers before shipping it to London. The buyer has never received an international painting and doesn’t know what to expect. 

There are a lot of moving parts here that will affect the shipment and should be reflected in the tracking. We have built tools to make this convoluted process more seamless. Here’s how. 

  1. First things first, this piece needs to get framed! While the piece is getting fitted at the framers, we introduce the "Request a Hold to Collect" feature – a tool that allows for the postponement of the collection date for any conceivable reason. This feature proves invaluable in ensuring that the artwork is in its prime state before commencing its expedition. 
  2. Communication is key in this journey. Within our platform, users seamlessly connect with our team, sharing updates like, "This piece is taking a bit longer at the framers than expected." This direct line of communication enables us to stay on top of any evolving situations, fostering a collaborative approach to the shipping process.
  3. Once the masterpiece is framed and ready for its grand voyage, we trigger our Importer Information Email Series. This series serves as a guiding beacon for the first-time international buyer, demystifying the customs process and outlining the information required from their end. It's a curated experience designed to ease uncertainties and provide clarity on the next steps.
  4. In the world of shipping, hiccups happen. Arta takes a proactive stance, diligently monitoring each shipment's progress. The Shipment Exceptions feature surfaces specifics around anything that interrupts a shipment’s journey. These exceptions are available on Arta’s tracking pages and provide actionable guidance when necessary. 

By implementing transparent tracking, your business will not only ease pre-parcel anxiety but also enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing clear and actionable insights. In a world where perceptions of the shipping process shape brand trust, investing in transparency becomes a strategic move that pays dividends in building customer confidence. 

What it comes down to 

At Arta, our tech makes stressful processes like tracking a shipment more human. We leverage our expertise to set the right expectations throughout shipping because we understand the emotional anticipation that comes with eagerly awaiting a cherished piece.

In a world where stressful shipping can negate the excitement of a sale, turning pre-parcel anxiety from a challenge into a strategic advantage isn’t just a preference — it’s a necessity. By embracing transparency, anticipating customer needs, and utilizing innovative solutions, your business can ease the stress of waiting and build unshakable trust. Elevate your brand, alleviate anxiety, and redefine opportunities for customer satisfaction beyond the sale. Connect with our sales team to learn how to leverage our tech to alleviate stress for your buyers.

Puri, Archit. The psychology of waiting for a parcel. May 2018. LiveMint. 

UPS. UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper. 2019 A customer Experience Study. 

The psychology of waiting for a parcel. LiveMint

UPS. UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper. 2019 A customer Experience Study. 

Sarah Seiler

Sarah is a marketer at Arta. She is driven by her curiosity around complex processes and her enthusiasm for utilizing technology to simplify and make these systems more accessible.

About Arta

We provide end-to-end logistics solutions for merchants and marketplaces worldwide.

We’re continuously evolving our e-commerce infrastructure for the global collectibles industry through automated transaction, fulfillment, and post-purchase technology. Arta's software provides instant shipping and handling quotes for any item type, regardless of size, material, or price point. Our API automates shipping and fulfillment for high-value items, providing a frictionless purchasing experience for our clients’ buyers.

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