Mitigating mailing mishaps

Convenience geared around the consumer is considered one of the golden rules of delivery.

Nevertheless, a major delivery company was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons after one of their drivers left a note to a mother telling her to “stop ordering online as you are never there”. Delivery problems can have far reaching implications, with consumers just one click away from going to a competitor.

So what are the common mailing mistakes made by retailers and how can they be avoided?

When looking at delivery convenience, the customer should always be the number one priority. However, this is often not the case, as highlighted by the recent delivery note publicised in the media. In the past, offering a sole standard delivery service may have been sufficient but today’s consumers expect to receive their goods in more ways than ever before. For example, parcel collection shops are now a common sight across major railway stations in the UK and the trend towards deliveries to collection points is increasing in other countries too as consumers opt for greater control on when they can receive their parcels.

Not only do consumers want the option of how they receive their goods but crucially when they received their goods too. Nearly two-thirds of consumers cite poor delivery standards as the worst thing that can go wrong with online shopping. Effectively customers don’t like delayed or unsuccessful deliveries. With trackable delivery, the timing of each stage in the delivery process is recorded enabling the item to be traced at any point from despatch to door or collection point. In this way, any processing delays can be easily identified and dealt with.

The growth of the e-commerce market is giving online retailers a clear opportunity to expand their customer base across the world. However, identifying which markets suit which products and how to go about establishing a footprint in a new territory is a complex challenge. Retailers need to consider the territories they are looking to target and how this impacts the delivery process, since consumers in different territories can have vastly different expectations. For example, in Scandinavia pick up points are the preferred form of delivery due to the widely dispersed population. Essentially an international audience means a greater demand for delivery flexibility, and retailers need to adjust accordingly. The underlying message is to know your customer and tailor your delivery solutions accordingly.

In addition to working out how when and where items will be delivered, it’s also vital to consider how you might get them back. A good returns system is something that many companies can forget to implement or implement poorly. And yet, returns are important to consumers. Harris Interactive has found that 85% of customers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle and, conversely, 95% will return to the same catalogue or internet retailer if the process is convenient. If customers find it difficult to return goods, it’s likely that they may look to a competitor next time.

Should delivery standards not meet expectations, not only will customers look to a competitor but they are also just one click away from giving retailers a very public dressing down via social media. This can have huge reputational knock-on effects. Our research shows almost a quarter (23.5%) of respondents said that they had already used social media to complain about delivery services. To minimise these unwanted outcomes it is critical that retailers are quick to respond to customer queries on social media, should they arise, and talk them through any delivery processes.

Sticking to technology, the recent introduction of new buying platforms on Pinterest and Instagram means it is important that retailers not only keep up to date with these latest innovations but also judge which ones might fit their business and how the delivery and fulfilment process will be affected. New buying trends give retailers even greater visibility leading to higher customer engagement with the aim of driving sales. Increased sales mean more deliveries, which can only be supported by strengthening fulfilment and distribution solutions.

Ultimately there are a number of delivery mistakes that retailers must avoid in order to create a positive customer experience. Customers now presume that they will be able to order the product that they want at any time of the day, and for it to arrive promptly when and where they expect it. . However, it is important to remember that delivery preferences may vary considerably from customer to customer. A third-party expert with the necessary knowledge, contacts and expertise, can help retailers develop a delivery system that is flexible and efficient, tailored to the particular requirements of the consumer wherever they are in the world.

By Paul Galpin, managing director, P2P Mailing

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