A new wave of trackable options are changing customer behaviour and retailers that ignore such options do so at their peril, warns Paul Galpin, managing director of P2P Mailing.
Missed deliveries continue to be a point of pain for many online consumers. Indeed according to a recent study by Engage Hub, nearly one in four consumers in the UK say that missed deliveries are caused by poor communication from delivery companies. Ultimately consumers want to feel in control about when they receive their online purchases; failure to meet this expectation can have damaging repercussions for the retailer with competition just one click away.
Traditionally consumers were limited in their choice of delivery service when shopping online. The options were broadly divided into two categories; standard delivery services which offered no tracking, or more express alternatives which offered faster delivery and gave the customer visibility of the progress of their order – but at a cost.
However, in the past couple of years the situation has started to change. Retailers and their delivery service providers have realised that as online shopping continues to grow, customers are becoming more discerning when it comes to exercising their purchase power. In particular, delivery is playing a big role in that decision. Our research shows that experiencing delays or delivery problems just twice or more would convince 87% of people to switch to another supplier.
Now, a mid-range of delivery option has appeared; services that are not as expensive or as quick as express options, but importantly offer comprehensive tracking. These services are aimed at those customers that don’t necessarily need their order quickly – and therefore don’t want to pay a premium for fast delivery – but want to see where it is and know precisely when it will be arriving.
The take up of these solutions amongst retailers continues to gather pace. Brands are realising that in order to attract and, more crucially, keep customers, they need to offer the right delivery choices. Delivery is becoming a crucial differentiator.
Retailers are finding that the extra parcels being sent using a tracked service are chiefly coming from two kinds of consumer. Those that are upgrading had previously ‘made do’ with an untracked standard service because they didn’t want to pay a premium rate, even though they would have liked the option to track their package. Others are downgrading. They previously paid the premium for an express service because they wanted the tracking feature; they weren’t necessarily worried about the additional speed of delivery. Now, rather than pay for a service they don’t need they have the option of a cheaper, tracked service.
Understanding your customers
It’s imperative that retailers understand the behaviour and needs of their customers and tailor their delivery solutions accordingly. And of course, the choice of delivery option is influenced by many factors including the type of product and the value of that product as well as the consumer’s own particular preferences. As would be expected, electrical items, for example, have always attracted a higher frequency of tracked deliveries because of their value.
When it comes to delivery convenience, the customer should never play second fiddle. However all too often this is the case. Convenience is a core part of good customer service and consumers not only want the option of how they receive their goods but crucially when they received their goods too. Some savvy retailers are already stealing a march on their competitors by engaging with delivery partners that enable them to offer a new range of conservatively priced, tracked delivery options. Before implementing new services, a clear understanding of delivery from the customer’s perspective is essential. Ultimately, if a retailer isn’t offering the right delivery solution, they can be sure that one of their competitors is.
Paul Galpin is managing director of P2P Mailing
Image credits: P2P Mailing and Fotolia