Key takeaways from the Metapack Delivery Conference

The Delivery Conference hmThursday this week saw about 1,000 ecommerce retailers turn up at the London’s Business Design Centre for the Metapack Delivery Conference in London.

I have to admit I was so busy bumping into people I didn’t get to attend many of the actual presentations – meeting old friends and new businesses is often the most valuable part of these events. However the presentations I did attend gave me a new perspective on deliveries.

Delivery Matters

One thing stood out loud and clear above all others, and that is that delivery matters, and more so than ever before. Consumers have come to expect fast delivery, even if it’s offered as free they’re not expecting to wait a week to receive their purchase.

As an example last night I made a purchase on eBay and this morning received an email saying “Will ship your item on Thursday due to work commitments. If I manage to ship it any earlier I will mail you with tracking details”. I have to say I’m not in a hurry for the item, but I was charged (a reasonable) £7.00 P&P for Royal Mail Special Delivery. But there’s no point selling me Special Delivery which is a next day service and then taking a week to ship the item. That’s not a great buyer experience.

Fast, Free, Convenient

Not only are consumers expecting fast delivery and wanting it for free they’re also looking for free returns and convenient delivery. This obviously represents a challenge to retailers as someone somewhere has to pay for carriage but as more retailers move to free and fast consumers will start to shop with those who offer it.

Convenient delivery is perhaps more of a challenge than fast and free delivery, as what’s convenient to one customer will be inconvenient for another. There are a ton of newer delivery companies offering different delivery experiences to the more traditional courier. These include the likes of Collect Plus and myHermes who both offer local store collection rather than home delivery, Amazon Lockers and ByBox who offer collection to a local pick up point, Shutl who offer delivery within an hour to your home or office, Interlink who assign notify the consumer a one hour time slot on the day of delivery and many more services from a host of providers.

Consumers simply don’t want to drive to a collection depot to pick up a parcel, for instance I love CityLink when I’m at home as they’re generally reliable as clockwork and deliver in the morning, but if I’m out it’s a 50 mile round trip to Reading to collect from their depot whereas DPD/Interlink are only about 10 minutes away in Newbury. Guess which courier I’d prefer you to use when you ship a parcel to me if I’m not working from home the next day?

Challenges for Retailers

The challenge for retailers is you’ll get maximum cost savings by not offering consumers a choice, but by putting all your deliveries with the same courier. However you will increasing will more business by offering a choice as consumers start to buy from retailers with the best delivery experience.

Delivery Choices for 2013

Amazon (if you use FBA) already offer consumers a choice of delivery experiences and speeds, expect eBay to encourage their retailers to do the same in 2013. eBay are already negotiating with couriers for both domestic and international eBay discounts.

If you want to offer choice to your customers but as simply as possible there are a number of options to help. One is fulfilment through a third party who due to their scale can often offer cheaper rates for the same services that you already use. Another is to simply streamline your own operations with software, which may be with your multichannel software provider or could be through services such as Metapack.

Even if you don’t offer a choice today, start thinking about what delivery options your customers might want to use in 2013 that you could offer. According to the Delivery conference 74% of consumers say that their delivery experience influences future purchases. That’s a big number.