InsightsWhat do customers want from ecommerce delivery?

What do customers want from ecommerce delivery?

Delivery is a key factor in customers' decisions to buy online, but many retailers are failing to meet expectations. Find out which brands are ecommerce's winners and losers.

Delivery is a key factor in customers’ decisions to buy online, but many retailers are failing to meet expectations.

A new survey of 2,000 UK consumers by Shutl and Retail Week provides some useful insights into this subject.

In this post I’ll look at the results and whether retailers are providing a good enough service to meet customer demand.

 

Retailers need to meet customer demand

Ecommerce is now fully established and customers now expect a higher standard of performance when it comes to delivery.

Customers’ expectations around delivery are changing, with 42% of respondents saying their delivery expectations are higher now than two years ago.

ecommerce delivery user expectations

 

 

The survey results suggest that retailers need to provide greater choice around delivery options.

Around 68% of shoppers have been discouraged in some way due to the delivery options on offer.

commerce delivery options

 

It is imperative that commerce sites offer a range of choice around delivery. While a few years ago, the ‘standard’ delivery option of 3-4 days was enough, it simply won’t pass muster anymore.

 

The delivery options retailers need to offer

Shoppers expect choice, and retailers need to offer as many options as possible, resources allowing.

The cost-conscious shopper wants a free or cheap delivery option, while there are people who prefer to pay a premium to have items delivered more quickly.

These next day or same day delivery options also come into their own in the Christmas shopping season, providing an edge for those commerce sites that can offer them.

For the multichannel retailer, click and collect is now an essential service to offer, and those that do offer it have experienced huge demand.

In the case of John Lewis, the demands of 6m click and collect orders per year led to the introduction of a £2 fee for orders under £30.

The Retail Week survey finds that control over delivery is important and that having the choice over delivery timings would encourage them to shop online more.

ecommerce delivery stats

 

Indeed, some of the delivery options introduced a few years ago to give retailers the edge (next day delivery etc) are now considered hygiene factors. As the survey finds, customer expectations are higher.

 

What are retailers offering?

For retailers, covering off as many delivery options as possible is key.

Schuh has taken this on board and so shoppers have plenty of choice over delivery. We have click and collect, next day, nominated day delivery and more. All for £1 or less.

This gives Schuh a real edge over competitors on both price and convenience.

Of course, there are extra costs in providing this but Schuh has calculate that the extra sales the retailer attracts through these options is worth this extra expense.

Schuss delivery options

 

House of Fraser takes a similar approach, with nine separate options, though the charges are higher than Schuh’s (which are very low compared to most commerce sites).

Again, this provides customers with more choice over delivery and ensures that those people who want

House of Fraser delivery

The survey does find that customers want the choice of delivery within a certain time slot, something both Schuh and House of Fraser aren’t currently offering.

In fact, few retailers do at the moment, but I can see this becoming more commonplace, as people hate having to wait in all day for deliveries.

Currys does offer this option, though at £19.99 it only becomes cost-effective for bigger ticket items like laptops and washing machines.

currys time slot

However, some retailers are still way behind on delivery. For example, H&M offers only one choice for delivery.

This is a 3-5 day delivery slot at £3.90, though the retailer does warn that even this may not be possible at sale and peak shopping times.

The H&M brand and the prices on offer mean that many people will shop anyway, but it is likely to be losing sales from customers who want their orders more quickly. 

Hm delivery

Delivery performance

A good range of delivery options is one thing, but retailers have to meet customer expectations, and this is where it becomes trickier.

The vagaries of dealing with third party couriers, traffic issues, weather etc all make it harder for retailers to deliver on time.

There are ways that retailers can make the delivery experience better though, by ensuring customers retain some control.

What should a good delivery experience look like?

  • Clear, accurate tracking online. This can save a lot of wasted time and frustration for customers, as well as reducing pressure on call centres.
  • Informative, proactive communication (text, phone or email updates). SMS notifications can be great for this. For example, Ikea will contact customers the day before to confirm a delivery slot.
  • Good levels of communication when problems (inevitably) occur. Even the best online retailers will experience delivery issues now and then.The key here is to communicate clearly with customers and let them know what is happening.
  • Non premium rate phone numbers to call at the courier. Premium rate phone numbers for customer service are a big mistake. Don’t make customers pay when you or your courier have made the mistake.
  • Greater levels of support from the retailer. Though it may be the courier’s fault, retailers need to take ownership of deliver problems.It’s not enough to just palm delivery problems off onto the courier and have customers chasing their order up. Customers will hold the retailer responsible,  not the courier.

In summary

The clear message from the survey is the importance of customer choice and control over delivery.

Vague promises of 3 to 5 day delivery are no longer good enough, and retailers have a chance to differentiate themselves from competitors by providing real choice over delivery. And by meeting their promises.

  • Ian

    The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 were published by BIS in December 2013. Regulation 41 requires post-sales helplines for retailers, traders and passenger transport companies to use numbers starting 01, 02, 03 or 080. The regulations came into force on 13 June 2014. Not everyone has complied with the new rules.

    New Ofcom rules published in December 2013 require all users of 084, 087 and 09 numbers to declare the Service Charge prominently, and immediately adjacent to, wherever their number is advertised. The regulations came into force on 1 July 2015. Breaches of the regulations can be reported to Advertising Standards or PhonepayPlus.

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