Analysis

Opinion: Delivery, the new currency tripping everyone up

Getting delivery wrong can be an expensive mistake, as Frank Lochbaum, managing partner at KPS explains.

Retail customer experience extends beyond the simple act of purchase. Poor service at the point of delivery can affect whether the shopper will continue their relationship with that particular brand, or choose to shop elsewhere in future.

Delivery directly impacts profits

Our recent research, which surveyed over 1,000 European consumers on their opinions about the current customer experience, found that efficient, flexible fulfilment and after-sales service is key to nurturing long term value. Within the total customer journey delivery is increasingly an essential and significant part of the cycle, meaning businesses need to focus on getting their offering right and aligning the delivery process within the total operational structure to ensure that they’re showcasing a competitive edge, as well as improving customer experience.

One of the most striking findings is that convenience ranks at the forefront of shopper priorities when choosing which brand to purchase with. The report found that two-thirds of consumers agree that their choice of shopping channel, whether digital or physical, is based primarily on convenience.

As a result, delivery choices need to be accessible and seamless and retailers should look to provide options such as; ship to store, click and collect, delivery within an hour, next day delivery or standard delivery free of charge. For the UK consumer, 3 in 10 shoppers will not place an order if free click and collect is not available, and just under 40% of consumers stated they will proactively choose retailers that offer click and collect over those that do not.

Delivery offerings, fulfilment logistics and returns are all important for the omnichannel customer experience.  Free delivery and returns, for example, can directly impact a consumer’s decision to purchase goods online. For this reason, a “consideration” stage should be contemplated when reviewing the consumer experience cycle.

What occurs once the checkout process has been completed can directly influence the shopper’s relationship with the retailer and whether they choose to continue shopping with that brand. For example, the report found that for over half (57%) of respondents, free delivery directly impacts their decision to purchase online, with 35% of those polled claiming that they will not consider paying for delivery.

Return convenience encourage returning customers

Returns are also of significance in the overall customer journey as 51% of consumers will not order from a company which does not offer a free returns policy. Two-thirds (63%) would like the option to return a purchase to any channel if they decide it is not right, and 41% are less likely to order a product online if they cannot return it to a store. The returns process is part of that “consideration” stage. If the service received is up to scratch, consumers are more likely to shop again.

Ultimately, the delivery function has to align with the rest of the business operations. If goods have been purchased online and despatched, the retailer, for example, needs to restock in real time to match current customer demand levels. Smooth running and seamless processes avoid disruption to the overall business and enhance the customer experience. It is the experience that retailers must look to create complemented and supported by joined up processes and systems, including delivery.

By Frank Lochbaum, managing partner at KPS 

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