Retail marketers risk damaging brand reputation through unrealistic delivery offers

4th Feb 2015

Dick Stead, the chairman of parcel delivery firm Yodel, has warned marketing professionals in the retail sector that they risk damaging their brand’s reputation by offering customers unrealistic home delivery times, in a bid to gain an advantage in a sector where delivery is predicted to be the chief differentiator.

Speaking at The Delivery Conference in London yesterday, Stead discussed the impact Black Friday and Cyber Monday had had on his business, which was maligned by some sections of the press for failing to cope with a 40% increase on the predicted number of parcels they were requested to deliver during the period.  

With a delivery network that caters for 85% of online retailers, Yodel bore the brunt of a Christmas consumer backlash deriving from a number of retailers, including Argos and Amazon, failing to fulfill their home delivery promises over Christmas, despite the unprecedented number of orders (including 5.5 million in just one day).  

However, while many other carriers have since outlined their plans to improve their delivery times and logistics during peak periods, Stead has been very public in suggesting that in the future, Yodel may only offer 48 or even 72 hour delivery at peak times, to dampen unrealistic expectations being driven by marketing departments.

“The marketers need to look at the damage they’re doing to their own brands when they’re promising next day delivery that they can’t offer,” he said during a keynote presentation at the event.

“Marketers need to think this through – don’t offer something that you can’t deliver.”

Stead accepted that part of the Christmas backlog was due to his company simply not “calculating for enough deliver vehicles”, but that in the near future, Yodel would not focus on the race-to-the-door policy that other parcel carriers were promising to provide their customers.      

Martijn De Lange, operations director for Hermes and Dwain McDonald, CEO of DPD also gave talks at event, specifying their commitment to delivering parcels to customers more efficiently to meet demand, through new methods including ship-to-shop, Sunday delivery and push notifications via smartphones for better communications with those awaiting parcels.

And despite Stead’s concerns, statistics from Royal Mail Parcels announced by managing director, Nick Landon at the event suggest that customer expectations are becoming greater, and that speedier and more reliable delivery is only likely to win out among carriers, with 72% of online shoppers say they’re unlikely to shop again with a retailer if they had a difficult experience.

Last year, eBay’s head of engineering, Sam Philips declared that 90% of customers using ecommerce state delivery to be their biggest annoyance, and that delivery methods had become of such importance to companies involved in shipping physical goods that it would soon become the only differentiator in which ecommerce players would compete.


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