CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamApril 23, 2020


Scotland-based butcher Donald Russell has been a highly successful mail order butchery service for almost half a century, supplying specialist grass-fed beef and lamb as well as top-quality frozen produce to consumers and leading restaurants across the UK.

Their reputation in the industry has even seen them become proud beneficiaries of a Royal Warrant, and as Online Butcher of the Year, they are in international demand, supplying to some of the most prestigious establishments worldwide.

However, they’re far from being “just another butcher”. Donald Russell’s success is down to a unique business model that’s based on cultivating close customer relationships, leveraging insights and personalising their offerings to offer a truly bespoke service to their clients.

Tradition with a twist

Donald Russell’s long-standing status as a butcher of quality had already won them a loyal following over the years. However, in order to truly become a provider for the modern age and compete with the convenience of supermarket shopping, the business was faced with the need to move with the times.

With 61% of consumers saying they would be willing to pay extra for better quality meat, and a further 30% wanting to buy meat from a local source to reduce their food miles, it was paramount that Donald Russell was still able to retain its reputation as an independent craft butcher. However, with profitability increasingly relying on consumer confidence, shifting to a digital service while maintaining traditional-provider status was essential to keep pace and foster great customer relationships.

The most important element of this digital transformation was to Introduce a feedback platform where customers could post their opinions and ratings.

This was instrumental in not only cultivating existing relationships but building a new audience – with prospective customers able to visit the website, build their own personal experience, and discover how successful the business was at meeting consumers’ expectations.

Senior managers were also then able to gauge satisfaction for individual products or quality of service, including deliveries – allowing them to tailor their service to their consumer base.

The importance of trust

While wanting to embrace greater transparency and boost customer experiences by offering review platforms, Donald Russell was also conscious of the potential for negative feedback. However, by utilising Feefo’s reviews and insights solution onto its website, they are now able to verify purchaser details to ensure only genuine consumers can post – giving greater confidence about the truthfulness of the feedback customers are reading, and eliminating fake reviews, regardless of whether they are negative or positive.

With research from Shopify showing that as many as 79% of consumers trust product reviews as much as a personal recommendation, it was clear the word-of-mouth success that Donald Russell had garnered over the years was set to be quickly replaced by a digital equivalent. Therefore, it was imperative to embrace the power of online reviews to bolster their reputation in an increasingly digital world.

With ratings and reviews now posted on the website, specific products and foods are highlighted, visible and searchable – and all potential customers have access to the full range of opinions to help them make more informed decisions.

Digitising delivery

Donald Russell was also committed to improving customer experience through a more personalised, digitised service. Thanks to a new digital business model, customers are now able to experience the traditions of craft butchery with one-click convenience – setting up an account and tailoring their own experience by storing payment cards, logging delivery addresses, using gift cards and selecting their own marketing preferences.

With a searchable library of online exclusives and customer favourites, it has been made possible for customers to find their favourite products by code or by name. They can then select the weight and quantity of the items they want to buy, add them to a virtual basket, and check out with a single click of the mouse.

What’s more, there is a whole host of at-a-click recipes, guides and how-to videos to take advantage of, as well as a live chat service with an expert advisor – meaning customers can go far beyond the transactional elements of buying meat and veg to enjoy a truly personal, tailored service that meets more than just their fridge-stocking requirements.

And with a whole host of bespoke delivery options to choose from, all customers have to do next is wait for fresh produce to be delivered right to the door.

Looking to the future

Six years after embarking on their digital transformation, Donald Russell has amassed an amazing 280,000 five-star reviews, with 86% of reviews about quality of service reaching the five-star level, and 78% of product reviews achieving the maximum five-star rating.

The visibility of consumer feedback, combined with the personalised touches of how-to recipe guides and bespoke produce tailoring, has drastically boosted the consumer experience – with the transparency of feedback bolstering customers’ trust in the brand and increasing engagement.

Any online search for Donald Russell now features the company’s high volume of five-star ratings, increasing customer assurance and click-throughs – and helping to inform the launch of new products by allowing managers to gauge early reactions and make adjustments to meet customer expectations.

By embracing ever-changing consumer requirements, Donald Russell has achieved the ultimate success – becoming an undisputed leader in a niche market by cultivating close consumer relationships, personalising the provision of top-quality produce, and offering a customer experience that is truly bespoke.

Dan EnnorDan EnnorAugust 9, 2019


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.

Rory OConnorRory OConnorMay 23, 2019


Experience is everything for the digitally empowered customer, and delivering online goods from factory to front door is an integral part of the sales experience. 

Getting that delivery function right means frictionless online sales that will ultimately result in a solid, loyal customer base, but what exactly is a good delivery experience?

A good delivery experience is contextual – it differs from individual to individual as well as the locale in which the delivery is taking place.  The speed of delivery has become an evolving battleground for retailers, with a 28 percent increase in the UK from 2016 – 2018 on the number of next day delivery orders placed. However, even next day deliveries are becoming obsolete with more people now looking for same day delivery.

As a retailer, there are four key things that need to be done to ensure the Customer Experience is positive. The most important thing is to not only review your data but analyse your date to find trends and exceptions. Secondly, create direct and meaningful connections with customers offering consistent and trustworthy communication and tracking. Thirdly, where possible, automate and use AI and chatbots to deliver more speed efficiency and productivity. Lastly, carrier automation is key to operational efficiency.

Having different delivery options can make a huge difference at the level where people abandon their baskets during an online shopping experience. The key to securing a shopper that does not abandon their baskets are convenience, speed and price. Again, the context of the individual is important with every transaction, so having different delivery options to offer is key. Most online shoppers expect free delivery without a minimum spend, which puts pressure on delivery providers and can severely impact customer experience.

Failed deliveries are a large problem when choosing your delivery provider. The cost of getting a delivery wrong is detrimental, as a lost delivery can cost the company up to £150. Not only can it cost money on-the-spot, but worse, it can cost future sales as the customer that is not having a successful experience with the company is more likely to choose a different provider next time. A company is only as good as their last delivery, so each delivery has to be perfect for a customer to continue using that company.

Experience is now everything for the digitally empowered customers and the future of delivery relies upon successful customer experiences. Carriers have seen that providing an experience to the consumer is very important and have focused their energies on the creation of apps and brand recognition, amongst other things.

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