EDX interview: Shop Direct’s Chris Haighton on the role of tracking

This year’s eDelivery Expo (EDX) held alongside InternetRetailing Expo (IRX), will include a presentation from Chris Haighton, head of outbound logistics at Shop Direct, on the role of visibility and tracking in the last mile. Ahead of the show on 21-22 March we caught up with him to find out more about why it’s so vital today. 

ED: How important is visibility for customers? 

CH: “Between checkout and receipt of goods, customers want reassurance. They want to know the parcel will arrive when they expect. That’s why visibility is so important; it gives them that reassurance.”

ED: Why is demand for better visibility growing? 

CH: “When I started in logistics, ‘allow 28 days for delivery’ was the norm, but expectations have changed. Today, customers demand short lead times, good communication and visibility. They won’t stand for anything less.

“Carrier services are improving all the time. That’s got a lot to do with customers’ expectations, but retailers know there’s value in putting the customer in control. Better visibility means satisfied customers, which means fewer queries and less cost for us as a retailer.”

ED: What are the key things to get right around tracking? 

CH: “Tracking needs to be simple and clear. We continually experiment with how our tracking looks and what we display to make sure it’s the best it can be for our customers.

“It also needs to be real-time, relevant and actionable. Tracking used to show where a parcel was. Now, customers want to know where it is and where it will be – and they want to be able to influence that.”

ED: How much information do customers actually need?

CH: “All customers want reassurance but the level of detail depends on the individual and the type of product being delivered. Through experimentation, we strive to meet customers’ needs without overwhelming them with information.”

ED: Is there a danger of providing too much information? 

CH: “In principle full transparency is the right thing to do. However, providing customers all information about a delivery can over complicate things – after all, not all information’s valuable to the customer and this unnecessary information can obscure what’s really important. We focus on clarity of message and experiment to make sure we have the right visual hierarchy on the order tracking page.”

Find out more about how to understand the importance of, and implement tracking at Chris’ closing address on 21 March at 15:35 Using Visibility and Tracking as a Key Way to Differentiate Your Last Mile. 

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