Almost a third (29%) of Brits admit to telling a friend or loved one to avoid a particular retailer because of a bad experience they’ve had with delivery while 49% think autonomous delivery would be less reliable than human delivery, according to a new consumer survey.
The research was commissioned by eDelivery EXPO, the European event for retail fulfilment today. Its ‘The Importance of the Final Mile’ research investigated 2,000 UK consumers’ perceptions and experiences of the delivery of goods purchased online.
According to the Office of National Statistics, the proportion of internet spending continued to rise, with almost one in every five pounds spent online by the end of 2017. Online retailing also saw year-on-year growth of 9.4%. Delivery is a critical element of the overall customer experience. With 93% of Brits having ordered a product online within the last month, the vast majority of consumers will have had a recent interaction with a delivery company or courier. Unfortunately, it is not always a positive experience.
The final mile is the customer’s final touch point with the retailer in the purchase journey. The findings reveal that it can literally make or break the customer relationship. In fact, poor delivery practices have made 18% of respondents stop shopping with certain retailers, with only 4% of them turning to click and collect and 4% resorting to purchasing in-store.
Poor delivery practices can tarnish a retailer’s reputation with customers’ friends and family, with 29% of Brits admit to telling a friend or loved one to avoid a particular retailer because of a bad experience they’ve had with delivery.
Out of the top five dislikes of online shopping, three were delivery related. When asked about what they most disliked about shopping online, having to pay delivery fees was the second most irksome at 56%, just behind not being able to ‘experience’ the physical product. The inconvenience of returning items came in third (40%) and the hassle of having to be in for a delivery fourth (28%). Seventeen per cent claim that they always check the courier company used by the retailer before purchasing, with 22% saying there are some courier companies they actively avoid. Fifty six per cent say they are annoyed if goods are not delivered when promised.
Having the wrong package delivered tops the list of delivery annoyances at 75%, closely followed by missed deliveries being returned to a depot far from the recipient’s home (74%). Damaged parcels comes a very close third (71%), with parcels left in inappropriate places at 53% and having to pay a premium for next day delivery at just under half of respondents (49%).
Humans v Drones
Many retailers have begun experimenting with automated delivery techniques (drones and autonomous vehicles) but consumers have their concerns around the reliability of these new techniques. Almost half (49%) think autonomous delivery would be less reliable than human delivery, whilst a third think it’ll be equally reliable. Just over a third (34%) say they would always trust a human over a machine to make a judgement call on what is best to do with their delivery, with a quarter being worried that their package would get lost or damaged. Despite these reservations, 37% accept that autonomous deliveries will be the norm within the next five years.
Maia Bulbul, Head of International Business Development at London-based last mile delivery service Quiqup said the landscape in which retailers operate today has changed.
“The growing culture of impatience is real and consumer demand for everything faster, more flexibly, and at the touch of a button is penetrating every corner of our lives,” he said. “Online shopping is supposed to make our lives easier, but delivery windows that span several hours feel like a chore, not a convenience. Retailers that offer delivery services that accommodate the dynamic schedules of their consumers have the opportunity to set themselves apart from even the biggest players in the market. Those who don’t, are likely to suffer at the hands of competitors with last mile muscle.”
Neil Cotty, CEO of UK-based enterprise carrier management company, GFS confirmed that a bad experience can easily result in lost customers and sales. “The delivery experience has to start much sooner than the actual delivery but at the checkout, ” he said. “Baskets are quickly abandoned if consumers don’t get the choice of delivery options and convenience they expect and demand. They also want up-to-date tracking and proactive notifications. What they don’t want is unexpected surprises, a parcel not turning up at the expected time or worse still, not turning up at all.”
Darko Atijas, Sales and Marketing Director at Neopost Shipping Europe added: “These findings highlight that negative shipping experiences do more than simply cost retailers money due to increased costs of returns and logistics: they adversely affect repeat purchases and ultimately the lifetime value of the customer.”