According to new research from eDelivery EXPO, British public still prefer the human touch rather than autonomous methods to deliver goods. Also consumers switch retailers if they aren’t satisfied with the delivery of their purchases.
eDelivery EXPO, Europe’s leading event for retail fulfilment, launched the results of its ‘The Importance of the Final Mile’ research which investigated 2,000 UK consumers’ perceptions and experiences of the delivery of goods purchased online.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the proportion of internet spending continued to rise, with almost one in every five pounds spent online by the end of 2017. Online retailing also saw year-on-year growth of 9.4 percent.
With the global parcel delivery market approaching $350bn in 2017 (Apex Insight’s Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight 2018), it’s clear that delivery is a critical element of the overall customer experience. With 93 percent of Brits having ordered a product online within the last month, the vast majority of consumers will have had a recent interaction with a delivery company or courier. Unfortunately, it is not always a positive experience.
Delivery issues dragging down online retail
The final mile is the customer’s final touch point with the retailer in the purchase journey. The findings reveal that it can literally make or break the customer relationship. In fact, poor delivery practices have made 18 percent of respondents stop shopping with certain retailers, with only 4 percent of them turning to click and collect and 4 percent resorting to purchasing in-store.
Maia Bulbul, Head of International Business Development at London-based last mile delivery service Quiqup, knows: “Online shopping is supposed to make our lives easier, but delivery windows that span several hours feel like a chore, not a convenience. Retailers that offer delivery services that accommodate the dynamic schedules of their consumers have the opportunity to set themselves apart from even the biggest players in the market.”
Poor delivery practices can tarnish a retailer’s reputation with customers’ friends and family. Almost a third (29 percent) of Brits admit to telling a friend or loved one to avoid a particular retailer because of a bad experience they’ve had with delivery.
Delivering the goods … badly
Out of the top five dislikes of online shopping, three were delivery related. When asked about what they most disliked about shopping online, having to pay delivery fees was the second most irksome at 56 percent, just behind not being able to ‘experience’ the physical product. The inconvenience of returning items came in third (40 percent) and the hassle of having to be in for a delivery fourth (28 percent). Seventeen percent claim that they always check the courier company used by the retailer before purchasing, with 22 percent saying there are some courier companies they actively avoid. Fifty six percent say they are annoyed if goods are not delivered when promised.
Having the wrong package delivered tops the list of delivery annoyances at 75 percent, closely followed by missed deliveries being returned to a depot far from the recipient’s home (74 percent). Damaged parcels comes a very close third (71 percent), with parcels left in inappropriate places at 53 percent and having to pay a premium for next day delivery at just under half of respondents (49 percent).
Humans versus drones
Many retailers have begun experimenting with automated delivery techniques (drones and autonomous vehicles) but consumers have their concerns around the reliability of these new techniques. Almost half (49 percent) think autonomous delivery would be less reliable than human delivery, whilst a third think it’ll be equally reliable. Just over a third (34 percent) say they would always trust a human over a machine to make a judgement call on what is best to do with their delivery, with a quarter being worried that their package would get lost or damaged. Despite these reservations, 37 percent accept that autonomous deliveries will be the norm within the next five years.
With delivery proving such a crucial aspect of the modern customer journey, ensuring it is reliable, affordable and meets customer expectations is paramount. Neil Cotty, CEO of UK-based enterprise carrier management company, GFS, comments on the findings: “The research highlights how critical delivery is for consumers and how easily a bad experience can result in lost customers and lost sales – it can be a competitive advantage or a weakness.”