Forget First Impression, Conquer The Final Impression

by Jack on 03/11/16

Customers no longer accept waiting 5-7 day for a delivery.

Consumers aren’t as patient as they used to be. Alongside the increase in ecommerce spend shoppers are becoming much more demanding of when and how they want their products delivered.

By Christer Holloman

Author, How to Sell Online: The Experts’ Guide to Making Your Business More Successful and Profitable Online

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I met up with Andrew Hill, Commercial Director, at Electio a delivery management platform (for more information, please vist: I wanted to learn from him what retailers must think about when it comes to getting the delivery right.

Ensuring an on-brand experience end-to-end

Consumers aren’t as patient as they used to be. Alongside the increase in ecommerce spend shoppers are becoming much more demanding of when and how they want their products delivered.

To thrive in the ever-competitive world of ecommerce, retailers must delight their customers at every stage of the journey – including delivery and beyond. Loyalty is hard won but easily lost and consumers judge brands on their whole experience, not just up to the point when they press the ‘buy’ button.

Delivery innovation

Fundamental to delighting customers is delivery. One of the biggest contributors to basket abandonment, delivery is key to converting sales. We’ve seen some incredible innovation here recently – from a meteoric rise in click and collect, to nominated and same day delivery and peer to peer offerings, essentially tapping into the sharing economy zeitgeist.

But while these options have helped the industry take huge strides in meeting customer expectations, they have to work to keep customers coming back. A buyer who has paid more for nominated day delivery is less likely to buy from you again if that product doesn’t arrive on time.

Having relationships with multiple carriers means retailers can select the best carrier depending on the criteria of the delivery. Matching the right service to the right carrier improves first time delivery success rates. Retailers with a delivery management strategy also have an advantage when it comes to offering more ambitious delivery options.

Trusting others to deliver

Retailers have had reason for concern over carrier performance in the past. Pictures of parcels flung over hedges or on the roof are quick to do the rounds on social media. Inconsistency in reporting is also a frustration. While some carriers will tell you where a parcel is every step of the way, others won’t. It’s incredibly hard to standardise communications with customers without an accurate data feed from each carrier.

Capacity has also been a huge factor – with numerous carriers unable to scale up for the peaks that occur across the retail calendar. Rolling out alternative delivery options can lighten some of those loads. Click and Collect can help tackle capacity issues, for example, while also being extremely convenient for customers. Pick up points popping up in local stores, petrol stations or even car boots are also innovative ways of relieving the pressure on carriers while ticking the convenience box.

Too much choice?

We all want options, but too much choice can be confusing. Research we conducted around Black Friday 2015 revealed that delivery preferences vary considerably between different types of customers. Younger shoppers, in the 18-25 age group, for example, are prepared to wait longer for a delivery if the price is right. For other buyers, the convenience of the delivery is valued as highly as the speed.

With a wealth of data at their fingertips ecommerce companies should analyse their customers’ behavioural patterns to tailor their delivery options. It’s not the quantity of options available, it’s knowing they’re the right ones and being confident that they work.

Delivery isn’t the end

The final piece of the jigsaw when it comes to delighting customers is to help them return what they don’t want. Many retailers make the mistake of thinking that the journey’s over when the product arrives with the customer. This attitude won’t wash with modern consumers.

In reality you can’t be sure you’ve reached the end until one month after shipping as, under the new Consumer Rights Act, consumers can return their items to you in that timeframe.

Retailers need as many returns options as they do choices around delivery to make it as easy as possible for people to buy. More enlightened retailers see returns as a vital part of the sales process. A lack of options can put customers off making a purchase so an investment in it in the short term will pay dividends over time.

The customer knows best

Consumer demands will continue to grow so retailers must keep innovating. But you need to understand what that choice means – the age-old adage of ‘know your customer’. From same day, nominated day, peer to peer, click and collect and standard 3-5 day deliveries – spend time understanding which options will work best for your customers. Then make sure your processes are watertight and you have the capacity to scale up or down, whatever the demand.

Getting these right = delivery delight.