The delivery process plays a vital role in the overall Customer Experience journey.

Get it wrong, and you risk damaging your reputation with customers, losing out on repeat purchasers. Delayed deliveries, inadequate communication, and unexpected tariffs all have an impact on how the brand is perceived by that customer.

Research from the UK’s online retail association, IMRG found that more than half of consumers have abandoned an online purchase at checkout because of delivery related reasons. Which further intensifies the need for ecommerce businesses to evaluate their delivery strategy and ensure that what they’re offering customers is convenient and seamless.

Do customers really expect fast and free?

When people talk about ecommerce delivery, one of the internet’s originators, Amazon, is never far from anyone’s lips. And understandably so; there’s no doubting that its reputation as a retail giant is largely down to being able to deliver a multitude of products quickly.

With that reputation comes an inordinate amount of pressure on retailers to offer ‘fast and free’ delivery in order to compete. But that’s not really the case. Delivery choice and convenience trumps speed, but more importantly, it underpins a successful delivery experience.

While next-day delivery is great for an urgent purchase, it may not be practical or financially prudent for every retailer to offer this. As a brand, you don’t want to offer customers an experience that you can’t deliver on. In fact, 41 percent of consumers told IMRG that they abandoned a purchase due to a lack of convenient delivery options in the last year, confirming that breadth of choice is just as important as speed.

Where’s my parcel?

Managing expectations is a huge part of ensuring seamless CX. This is especially true when it comes to the delivery journey and giving customers transparency of where their parcel is through online parcel tracking and regular notifications. More than 60 percent of respondents in the IMRG survey listed access to all aspects of online order tracking as their top priority for making deliveries more convenient, such as failed delivery, dispatch date, tracking details, and progress of the order, to name a few.

Receiving regular notifications along the delivery journey is equally important – in particular when it’s not good news, such as when the delivery is going to be late or it’s failed because nobody was home when a delivery attempt was made.

For brands that want to offer an exceptional Customer Experience at all moments of the shopping journey, communication from checkout to doorstep has to be made a priority for managing customer expectations and reducing ‘failed deliveries’. 

Don’t forget about returns

We know that delivery capability is a huge motivator for customers to choose to purchase from a particular brand. However, many retailers tend to focus so much on delivery that they neglect the returns process, and ultimately lose out on repeat purchasers. The same diligence applied to delivery through multiple carriers, communication, and convenience has to be replicated across the returns process, ensuring returns are seamless and convenient for all customers. Consumer expectations on retailers is quite high at the moment, thanks to an uncertain high street environment, so to lose a customer at the very end of their journey seems a waste of the hard work established at the beginning.

Improving customer satisfaction through delivery

Mamas & Papas is a prime example of a brand that put their customers first and used an end-to-end delivery strategy to improve the Customer Experience. Working with Global Freight Solutions, Mamas & Papas were able to personalise delivery options for each customer, presenting the most efficient and cost-effective range of delivery options that are available based on the customer’s own order composition and address. Mamas & Papas were also able to manage multiple carrier relationships and easily troubleshoot the delivery structure, in the event that one of their carriers experienced issues that would impact levels of service. As a result, Mamas & Papas saw a 10 per cent increase in customer satisfaction.

Delivery (and returns) are not just hygiene factors. The choice a retailer makes, ultimately has an impact on the customer’s final purchase decision and whether they return as a loyal customer. A thorough delivery strategy that factors in convenience, speed and open communication can impact the purchase decisions. Not only that, but it can be a differentiator, whereby a good delivery experience encourages customers to come back and buy again, just as a bad delivery experience can push them to buy elsewhere.

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