As e-commerce sales have increased across the board during the coronavirus pandemic, so has the number of consignments. As a result, consumers in many countries expect faster deliveries. In the UK, for example, 15% expect a delivery time of 1–2 days, compared to 11% last year. In Belgium, the corresponding figure is 18%, compared to 12% last year. Experienced e-commerce consumers tend to be more demanding when it comes to everything from payment options to delivery methods and delivery times.
Accommodating consumer preferences is thus a mission-critical issue in the context of e-commerce. The winners will be the companies that best meet consumer requirements, make it simple for them to choose, and create a seamless purchasing process.
Six steps to success
Below, Direct Link lay out a few recommendations intended to help retail companies make the right decisions for their logistics setup. The model constitutes the view of how consumerdriven logistics in the Nordic region should be developed to reinforce the purchasing experience for consumers.
1. Simplify and clarify the delivery options.
By clarifying when, how and where the delivery will take place from the very start, the company can help the customer feel confident about the purchase.
Those retail companies that are already familiar with their customers can naturally suggest the most suitable option, based on this experience.
Predicting which delivery option is the best match which can help increase the conversion. For a returning customer, this can, for example, be suggested as the standard option during checkout. This builds loyalty and demonstrates knowledge about the customer. For new or incidental customers, however, the opportunity to choose the delivery method can make or break the decision to buy.
Occasionally, they are also interested in knowing which company is responsible for the delivery. And, of course, they want to know what it will cost.
2. Offer options: precision, speed or budget.
The delivery experience should match the prepurchase experience. For consumers, this always involves weighing up the speed, precision and cost of the delivery.
Freedom of choice regarding delivery speed and precision is a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to complete a purchase. Many consumers would prefer to specify a precise delivery time or place, or have the delivery fit into their routine in a certain way.
No matter which delivery option customers finally choose, however, they need to know what options are open to them – and what they cost – when they are making the purchase.
3. Offer the option to choose the delivery location.
The ability to choose a convenient delivery location during each purchase makes a major and significant difference in the work to generate satisfied customers. Closest does not always mean best.
The opportunity and the freedom to influence the delivery is a key parameter. Some customers want items delivered to their home – and would ideally like to sign to confirm receipt. Some want to collect their purchases from their service point. Others do not want to have to keep an eye on delivery times; they would therefore prefer to have goods delivered directly to their garage or left in their back yard, without them having to be home.
4. Communication and transparency during delivery
The company should make sure that customers receive sufficient information to allow them to understand what they have to do to receive the delivery. Make it clear that the customer needs to be home at a certain time, and/or will need to present identification to take possession of the delivery. For deliveries without a receipt, consumers should understand that this option entails their taking over responsibility for the delivery. It is important that the retail company, in consultation with its distributor, be able to offer a range of delivery options, backed by clear and reliable communication. How does the customer want to be contacted and notified? By email, SMS or a note in the mailbox?
5. Make the delivery easy to change
What seemed like a good option at the time of purchase may subsequently prove to be extremely inconvenient for the customer. If the distributor is unable to adjust to the changes in the customer’s wishes and requirements, what started out as a positive purchase process can quickly become the exact opposite. Successful companies should offer customers the options of making changes to the delivery process, for example by allowing someone other than the stated receiver to collect the parcel, or by changing the delivery location.
The ability to influence the delivery even after checkout is crucial if logistics are to function smoothly and thus contribute to establishing an even stronger relationship between the consumer and company.
Following up to discover consumers’ reactions and opinions in the wake of a purchase is important as well – especially because this generates a sense of confidence in the consumer link and assures consumer power.
6. Create smart returns solutions
The precondition for ensuring that every consumer enjoys a good purchasing experience is the capacity of the company to handle returns in an efficient, flexible manner. This will make sure that customers come back again.
The company should offer simple solutions for returns, such as easy access to places where items can be dropped off, clear instructions about how to handle returns, and information about how refunds will be issued.
It must be simple for consumers to find returns forms to fill in, as well as information about what the returns process entails. The description must be unambiguous, and it must provide information about any costs involved. This must be stated early in the process. Having the courage to promise a time by which a refund will be paid increases customer confidence and helps remove obstacles to purchasing.
In summary: Freedom of choice, convenience and transparency make winners.