18 March 2020

How delivery is key to eCommerce success

As the eCommerce sector has grown, so have expectations on the delivery experience. Etailers can no longer rely on what happens up to the point of checkout to keep shoppers coming back. In a competitive marketplace, what happens after a shopper has parted with their hard-earned cash is equally as important. Retailers and carriers need to ensure this excellence is continued throughout the delivery journey. Convenient and transparent delivery is key. Not just in ensuring the customer remains happy, but also in ensuring brands remain competitive.

Steve Sneath

Delivery as an extension of the brand

It’s predicted that by the end of 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product as a key differentiator1. And this news couldn’t be more important to the world of eCommerce. In a sector where there is little-to-no face-to-face contact, the shopping and delivery experience becomes a vital extension of the brand.  In most cases, the only human interaction will be with the carrier’s delivery driver.

Research by Convey shows that 84% of customers are unlikely to shop with a brand again after a poor last-mile delivery experience2. Which is why retailers need to get this end-to-end journey right; they can no longer afford to make delivery an afterthought, it must be a considered part of the customer experience.

As part of ensuring shoppers receive the best possible delivery experience, carriers and retailers have endeavoured to offer them more choice in a bid to prevent missed deliveries. Shorter delivery times, specific dates, time-slots, multiple addresses and collection points, are all now options. Even same-day delivery is on the rise, with Amazon trying to disrupt the traditional carriers with their own competitive shipping solutions.

Boosting sales through the delivery experience

Yet while retailers and carriers are doing more to keep pace with growing customer expectations, many are still missing the mark. The first UK eCommerce shipping survey shows 96%3 of retailers are failing to provide their customers with a personalised post-purchase experience. In most cases, retailers are leaving the tracking and delivery updates down to the carrier, and some are providing none at all.

Retailers that do not provide this personalised communication, are missing opportunities to complete the brand experience and generate additional sales. Solutions are available that allow shoppers to track their delivery status without appearing to leave the retailer website, helping to create a seamless brand experience. Similarly, with current tracking technology, there is no reason customers shouldn’t receive branded delivery updates from retailers. There are systems available that automatically trigger notifications to customers at each stage of the delivery journey.

Providing branded delivery notifications can be a key tool in generating additional sales for retailers. Figures show 70-80%4 of personalised post-purchase messages are opened. An impressing stat, given that the average email open rate in the UK is just 13%5. What’s even more impressive is that 0.5-1%6 of this 70-80% result in customers immediately making a new purchase.

From retailer to customer and back again

It’s easy to think that the delivery journey ends once the customer has their goods. But that’s not always the case. Research shows 30% of online purchases are returned, compared to less than 9% brought in a bricks-and-mortar store7. With this in mind, the returns process is just as important as the delivery.

Surprisingly, some retailers still don’t provide easy access to a returns label, let alone a trackable solution. Providing transparency at this stage of the delivery journey is just as important in building shopper loyalty. Customers that know when their refund will be sent, or replacement item shipped, are highly likely to continue shopping with the brand – 92%8 more likely, in fact.

Solutions, such as Intersoft’s Returns Portal software, can help etailers achieve this, by keeping the customer within the brand experience and helping to smooth the returns process.

You can find out how our award-nominated Returns Portal has helped etailers and 3PLs here.

Cutting costs through delivery efficiency

Keeping the customer happy isn’t the only way a smooth delivery experience aids eCommerce. Missed deliveries have a significant financial cost to both retailer and carrier. This is well highlighted by an IMRG study9, that shows carriers lose £122.6m and retailers £1.2bn a year due to failed deliveries.

Investment in technologies that notify customers when deliveries are due, as well as providing them with a variety of convenient delivery slots and rescheduling options, is key to improving the efficiency of the delivery process.

What’s more, transparent real-time tracking significantly lowers the number of inbound “Where’s my item” calls to customer service teams. Tracking gives customers the information and reassurance they need, without having to pick up the phone. It’s for similar reasons that many carriers are adopting inflight services, allowing shoppers to simply reply by text to change their delivery date, or provide instructions to leave items with a neighbour or in a safe place.

Tracking doesn’t just put the shopper in control. Returns solutions that provide logistics with real-time insight into items being returned are hugely valuable to the supply chain. They provide granular detail on what’s being returned, when and how, allowing retailers to better forecast financially, and providing warehousing with the information to resource according to the number of items being returned.

As the eCommerce landscape continues to grow and evolve, retailers will need to continue to recognise the importance of the delivery journey to remain competitive, and delivery solutions will need to keep pace with the growing demands of the market.

1 https://www.superoffice.com/blog/customer-experience-statistics/
2 https://www.getconvey.com/resource/research-last-mile-delivery-save-retail/
3 https://www.imrg.org/blog/delivery-revealed-results-of-the-first-uk-ecommerce-shipping-survey/
4 https://www.imrg.org/blog/delivery-revealed-results-of-the-first-uk-ecommerce-shipping-survey/
5 https://www.superoffice.com/blog/email-open-rates/
6 https://www.imrg.org/blog/delivery-revealed-results-of-the-first-uk-ecommerce-shipping-survey/
7 https://www.invespcro.com/blog/ecommerce-product-return-rate-statistics/
8 https://www.invespcro.com/blog/ecommerce-product-return-rate-statistics/