Editor's Comment

Editorial: The fickle nature of Christmas delivery

So this week the newsletter is full of stories of the impact of last-minute deliveries upon the delivery supply chain in the final run-up to Christmas. National media meanwhile have been reporting delayed parcels as the delivery network comes under its greatest strain of the year. And as I sat in waiting for a late parcel this week I realised once again just how fickle customer sentiment is around delivery and how little tolerance we have for a poor experience.

I’d already had one bad experience post Black Friday – two parcels thrown over my gate. One was wrapped and not breakable, the other wasn’t and quite clearly was. As I waited for my delayed delivery the frustrations grew again. The tracking, as it was, for this parcel, simply said it was out for delivery. As it was the day before. No reason why it hadn’t been delivered. No estimate to when it may be delivered and even when I did contact the company they could only tell me it was out and I should get it today. And I needed it for the evening.

The point of my mini-rant is how easily broken customer trust can be. This is a service I’ve used many times before with parcels turning up quicker than I can get to the shops. I trust it and love it. Or at least I did. Did I sit there remembering all the successful deliveries? All the times I was delighted by delivery?

Well I tried to, especially since I know all too well the intense demand that delivery services and drivers are under to get our goods to us on time. But when promises of delivery are broken they grate. And the truth is I sat there seething instead. Resentful that I didn’t know for sure that the delivery would arrive in time (thankfully it did).

Perhaps I could have had more realistic expectations. After all if I’d chosen click and collect as an option I wouldn’t have put quite so much strain on the delivery system. Another of our stories this week shows that offering click and collect options are one of the best ways of boosting the instore experience and it’s easy to see why since it offers the customer complete certainty they will get their hands on a product – so long as they don’t mind going to pick it up.

Of course, failed deliveries bring another problem – that of returns if a shopper then has to get an alternative product. New predictions from Sorted claim there will be up to £2.3 billion of failed online deliveries which will cost retailers £464.9 million in returned goods this Christmas.

So what’s the answer? Don’t overpromise and underdeliver perhaps? But that in itself brings its own challenges. More new research suggests that retailers one in five retailers could be risking up to 30% of their online Christmas sales by not having premium delivery offers in place, especially this close to the big day.

There are no right answers beyond intense and thorough planning and realistic delivery options and deadlines. But the truth is retailers, customers and delivery firms alike will all try to push new boundaries – sometimes that will come off and sometimes it simply won’t.

This is the last editorial and newsletter of 2017 so have yourselves a very happy Christmas!

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