Retailers should do more to educate their shoppers about the delivery of goods, says Stuart Godman, chief commercial officer, DX (Group)
E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe and North America, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research, with online sales in Western Europe forecasted to grow by more than 14% in 2017. And it’s easy to see why. Consumers can browse a wide range of products and brands on-the-go or from the comfort of their own homes, making the buying process quick and convenient.
Many consumers now consider online shopping and home delivery as the norm; but as fast as the rate of online orders are rising, consumer expectations are also increasing. Retailers must therefore work closely with couriers to ensure customer satisfaction and build a positive reputation for delivery companies and retailers alike.
Fork in the road
Although retailers should understand that the customer experience doesn’t simply end at the checkout, they do need to be aware of an important fork in the road at the point of sale. Either they communicate their different delivery options clearly or they don’t. Should they neglect this responsibility, retailers run the risk of disappointing their customers.
Retailers should therefore provide their customers with a range of flexible delivery options offered by their chosen logistics firm. With such a wide range of different types of delivery services from same-day to chosen-day, click-and-collect to secure, the subtle but important nuances between the options are rarely communicated to consumers. This is often where difficulties can arise.
With the growth in online retail showing no signs of slowing, online shoppers have an almost unlimited selection of websites to buy from, so cost and convenience will be at the forefront of their minds. However, this can mean customers selecting an inappropriate delivery option for their purchase, which in turn could lead to poor customer satisfaction if they don’t get the level of service they thought they had requested.
It is therefore down to the retailer to clarify the different options during the checkout process and recommend what may be suitable, where appropriate, including a clear specification of cost for each option.
Avoiding customer dissatisfaction
As an example, most retailers offer a free delivery service as the default option. This is a popular choice among consumers, yet it often doesn’t meet their needs. ‘Free delivery’ is often the slowest service and involves only a single courier, who is usually only insured to deliver the item to the customer’s doorstep. While this quality of service is sufficient for many items, it may be inconvenient for others. For example, large items such as homeware and garden products may require careful manoeuvring inside the house, requiring more than one courier to support the weight.
In this instance, a 2-man delivery service is a much more suitable option as consumers significantly reduce the risk of damage to their purchases and to their homes, but these couriers are also insured to deliver goods to the customer’s room of choice or even into their garden. This is just one example where effective communication of delivery options can help to save consumers from stress and avoid customer dissatisfaction.
Sign of the times
The rise of e-commerce has changed the delivery landscape drastically. Consumers are now spending large sums of money on products they’ve never seen before, and these products are far bigger than simply books or clothes. The increasing number of online only stores is another new phenomenon, which is giving consumers an unparalleled choice of retailers. The instantaneous culture of the modern generation is equally creating pressures on retailers and logistics firms as next-day delivery is increasingly becoming an expectation for consumers.
Retailers should consider adapting their services to get with the times. With the volume of online deliveries expected to continue rising by 13.8% in 2018, it is essential for retailers to accommodate a greater variety of delivery needs and to explain to their customers that the cheapest delivery option isn’t always the best. By educating consumers about the different options available, customers will be able to make an informed decision, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.
Stuart Godman is chief commercial officer, DX (Group) Plc
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