Retailers must take action to secure customers for the long term.
Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, announced the findings of its Consumer Online Delivery Research, which set out to assess consumers’ online purchasing experiences across Europe. Undertaken during July 2021, the interviews with consumers highlighted that quality of the delivery service is undermining overall customer perception of both delivery companies and retailers – leading to lost sales. The research concludes that retailers need to take ownership of the end-to-end experience, in order to address consumer expectations regarding tracking and communication; safe delivery and ease of return; and, increasingly, environmental considerations.
Key findings include:
- The quality of the experience has been far from perfect: just 16% of UK consumers are satisfied with the delivery service every time.
- Over two thirds (68%) have had an issue with delivery in the last three months – and, as a result, 24% lost trust in a delivery company and 24% lost trust in the retailer.
- Over a third (37%) of consumers also share their perception of both delivery company and retailer with friends and family – creating a ripple effect that rapidly undermines consumer perception.
- 71% of European consumers consider the environment when making an online order
- Almost a third are interested in bulking all orders to one weekly delivery.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion of purchases made online has grown from an average of 32% to 43% and is expected to remain at 41% for the foreseeable future. More than half (51%) of consumers have increased the number of purchases they make online, and 51% now make an online purchase at least once a fortnight – almost double the number (28%) pre-pandemic.
Despite these statistics, the research findings underline the fact that deliveries are failing to achieve complete customer satisfaction, with nearly nine in ten (87%) customers not always satisfied with the delivery services received. With satisfaction rates even lower for consumers who have reduced their online buying behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic, the implications of inadequate delivery experiences cannot be overlooked.
Timing is the biggest issue for home deliveries – with two in three (68%) UK consumers reporting a delivery problem in the last three months. Delivery problems radically affect customer perception – and not just of the delivery company. While almost a quarter (24%) lost trust in the delivery company, 24% also lost trust in the retailer and 23% did not buy from that retailer again.
Given that many consumers were a captive audience during COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, these delivery problems should raise serious alarm bells for retailers. With just 16% of UK consumers confirming they are totally satisfied with the delivery service, a company’s ability to meet its delivery promises will become increasingly important to reinforce the quality of customer experience and maximise the chances of customer retention.
Questions retailers should, therefore, be seriously considering, include:
- How proactively is the retailer tracking delivery performance?
- What is the strategy for managing spiralling delivery costs and optimising driver time?
- What is the strategy for meeting customers’ environmental expectations? Can the delivery model support bulk orders and green scheduling? Are the right vehicles being automatically assigned to deliver in Clean Air Zones?
Pol Sweeney, VP Sales and Business Manager UK, Descartes, comments: “Consumers will not return to pre-pandemic shopping habits; having become used to the convenience of ecommerce, online purchasing will continue to dominate. Individuals have become far more confident and sophisticated online over the past 18 months and expectations have risen, leading retailers to enhance the online experience, but as this research reveals, the quality of the delivery service is undermining the overall customer perception and leading to lost sales. Retailers that take ownership of the entire end-to-end experience and truly optimise the delivery process have the opportunity to transform customer perceptions, drive additional sales and, critically, entice customers from poorer performing competitors.”
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