Ecommerce delivery trends: What contributes to a positive experience?

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Kees de Vos
Chief Product Officer,
MetaPack
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Today’s connected consumers demand both choice and flexibility when it comes to receiving their online orders – and will not hesitate to abandon shopping baskets if they encounter unsatisfactory delivery options.

As the findings of our recent Delivering Consumer Choice: 2015 State of eCommerce Delivery survey show, 66% of shoppers bought goods from one retailer in preference to another because the delivery services on offer were more appealing. What’s more, a massive 51% said they had failed to complete an online order because of poor delivery choices.

Clearly, retailers that offer better and more convenient delivery options will reap significant rewards when it comes to driving website conversions. But providing delivery choice is just part of the story.

That’s because the delivery experience itself is pivotal to forging the long-term satisfaction that differentiates a retail brand and keeps customers coming back for more. Indeed, 96% of shoppers participating in the survey said a positive delivery experience would encourage them to shop with a retailer again. So, getting the delivery experience right is important for building a loyal customer base and increasing overall customer lifetime value.

But what, from a consumer perspective, contributes to a positive delivery experience? Today’s shoppers are emphatic: they expect clear and timely notifications that keep them in the picture about the status of their order.

Good communications begin at the point of order

Customers expect good clear communications at every point of the purchasing journey. From their perspective, the communications process begins on the product page itself; 83% of shoppers told us they expect to see delivery options clearly displayed on the same web page as the product they want to order.

Customers also expect an order acknowledgement; 93% of shoppers emphasised the importance of receiving an email confirmation from a retailer to confirm their order had been received. What’s more, 88% of all survey respondents said they track the status of their online order.

Building customer trust - prioritise proactive communications

Good customer communications throughout the fulfilment and delivery process sets clear expectations about when an order will arrive – which can help minimise the potential for order cancellation. It also goes a long way to reducing customer anxiety and boosting customer satisfaction.

Being able to trust a retailer to deliver their online purchase is important to shoppers and retailers should prioritise proactive communication to show customers that they care. In our survey, 82% of consumers said it is was important that retailers proactively communicate every fulfilment and delivery stage, with 45% saying they track order status by SMS/phone and 85% using email to stay updated.

It’s no surprise customers seek constant reassurance that goods are on their way. Unsuccessful deliveries represent an inconvenience that involves time – and cost - sorting out redeliveries, cancelled orders and refunds. It explains why 81% of customers will track their order status two or more times during the fulfilment process.

Successful delivery - customers want reminders and updates

Convenient receipt of goods is a priority for today’s time-pressed consumers. Delivery can ‘make or break’ brand reputation and getting it right is essential to the profitability of an online business. Ideally, retailers need to ‘deliver once, deliver right’ and achieving this goal depends on ensuring customers are clear about when and where they can expect to receive their goods – and make arrangements accordingly.

Ultimately, customers want to get their hands on their order with the least amount of hassle. It’s why 83% expect a guaranteed delivery date, and 80% want a time slot of when to expect their delivery to arrive. Frequent communications will help remind customers to prepare to receive delivery of their parcel.

Counting the cost - rectifying a poor delivery experience

Poor delivery hurts online sales and failing to deliver the convenience customers expect can cost brands dear. Today’s digitally empowered consumers will not hesitate to broadcast their disappointment at what they perceive to be a poor delivery experience; indeed, 40% of shoppers in our survey confirmed they’d taken to social media to voice their woes. What’s more, 56% went on to say that negative online comments influence their decision on whether to shop with a retailer.

But a poor delivery experience will impact retailers in more ways than just brand reputation.  Shoppers that took to social media to vent their frustrations reported a startling range of retailer responses: 41% did not respond; 33% issued an apology; 19% refunded goods; 11% issued a voucher or discount; and 9% refunded the delivery cost.

When fulfilment goes wrong, retailers accrue considerable additional customer service and operational costs putting things right to the satisfaction of a customer.

Streamlined delivery and customer satisfaction: communications are key

Clear, concise customer communications are a key factor in minimising delivery failure and maximising customer satisfaction. But, as we’ve seen, delivery can prove a costly business when communications go awry. Failure to proactively communicate with customers about their delivery means their expectations aren’t set appropriately and trust is undermined. What’s more, it inhibits the ability of customers to arrange to receive their parcel.

Maximising online profitability depends on retailers exploiting every opportunity to achieve a first-time successful delivery. Whether a customer is  collecting from a store or waiting for a delivery in a specific time slot, if they are confident about when that delivery is arriving, they will also be happier and ultimately more loyal to the retailer.

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