Europe

Magazine Archive: Vive La Difference

June 2016 sees the UK focused on the thorny issue of its relationship with the EU. In June 2015, eDelivery heard from ecommerce associations BEVH, FEVAD and IMRG discuss the differences between delivery and consumer expectations in France, Germany and the UK. Here we revisit that feature from the magazine archive.

Ingmar Böckmann, head of ecommerce and logistics at German association BEVH started proceedings by talking about how standard delivery in Germany takes 24 hours and costs between €2.05 and €3. However, many retailers also offer 48 hour delivery services in order to reach the whole country.

Standard, free delivery in France is two days but premium options do exist for faster delivery and some retailers are beating customer expectations by delivering more swiftly, according to Stéphane Tomczak, head of e-logistics at French association FEVAD. French consumers are more concerned with accuracy than speed, he said.

In the UK, 60% of orders go out on common service with 2-3 days delivery but some retailers do try to beat that, said Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at UK association IMRG. While UK shoppers choose free delivery options in preference to other methods, the importance for them is knowing when their order will arrive, he explained.

When it comes to customers collecting their online order from a retailer’s store, the UK is ahead of the other two countries. Some 90% of click-and-collect orders are collected from the retailers’ own stores. This means that all of the different independent systems, such as lockers, petrol stations, convenience stores and railway stations, are competing for a share of just 10 million parcels explained Starkey. “Retailers need to embrace these services as that’s how consumers will find out about them,” he said.

The collection of online orders from retailers’ own stores was hardly heard of in France until two or three years ago but now it is gaining in popularity and accounts for up to 20% of deliveries. “For some more mature multichannel retailers that figure is 40%,” said Tomczak. France has a history of shoppers using pick up and drop off (PUDO) points though with up to 60% of consumers saying that they like using PUDO points such as local convenience stores, according to Mondial Relay which operates 4,500 Point Relais in France. The company operates over 20,000 PUDO points in 6 other countries in Europe including Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain.

Click-and-collectt from stores is less popular in Germany where it is offered by just a few retailers. German shoppers are, however, used to collecting their purchases from third party locker banks such as from DHL’s network of 2,650 Packstation lockers.

Alternative delivery choices, such as click-and-collect, are appealing to shoppers in France, Germany and the UK, according to a survey of shoppers in the three countries conducted for MetaPack. Some 63% of the shoppers in the UK who were surveyed said they had used click-and-collect in the last 12 months. While lower percentages of French (43%) and German (26%) consumers said they had used Click & Collect, a higher percentage (72%) of French consumers had picked up their delivery from a local shop. Half of German respondents had used a locker service compared to only 10% of shoppers in the UK and 9% of French consumers.

Other national differences do appear in what consumers value most from a delivery choice. While the majority of consumers in the UK (55%) and France (56%) rate free delivery highly, German shoppers are a little less smitten (41%). Speed of delivery matters more to German (27%) shoppers who are generally happy with the speed of services on offer from retailers. Meanwhile, less than 1 in five of French (18%) consumers care. French consumers rank the cost of delivery as a more important consideration than speed. The range of delivery options in France is expanding as retailers try to meet customers’ expectations, but “free delivery will be chosen by consumers over speed,” said Tomczak.

The punctuality of a definite time slot is more highly rated by Germans (19%) compared to shoppers in the UK (11%) and France (8%).

Timed delivery services are now available in large cities in Germany but Böckmann expects it to be two or three years before these are expanded to more rural areas. He also expects same-day deliveries to be in the minority with just 10-15% of orders, at most, delivered in this way over the next five years.

Where the industry is changing is in its transparency and communications with consumers post-purchase. French retailers are also increasingly looking to ship customers’ orders direct from store.
Transparency is one area in which the German market could improve as well. It also needs to uphold accuracy believes Böckmann since timed delivery “isn’t very accurate at the moment.”

“In the UK, the clock is ticking before we run out of capacity,” warned Starkey explaining how online retail is predicted to account for one billion parcels this year. “We’ll hit two billion parcels by 2019,” he said.

Starkey advocates that click-and-collect with collection from third parties is an as yet underused delivery method and one that retailers need to be promoting to consumers in the right way. He also advocates collaboration between retailers and management of shoppers into choosing options which utilise less busy times of the week. “It’s not convenient for shoppers to anticipate delivery,” said Starkey so retailers should tell them where their order is and give them the ability to change it in-flight. To date, around 30% of consumer have experienced this.

Whichever way customers choose to have their order delivered or to pick it up, the panellists all agreed that in all cases retailers must manage customers’ expectations by at least informing them of when their order has been despatched and when it will be delivered.


This feature first appeared in issue two of eDelivery Magazine (EDM02)

Image credits:
  • © European Union 2015, Editorial use only