What can you learn from the top 50 retailers?

Stuart Anderson is the Multi Channel Marketing Manager at Spark Response, part of the Spark eCommerce Group. Today he looks at how the top 50 UK retailers aim to serve their customers delivery demands. The question is what can you as a marketplace seller learn or what lessons can you apply to your website.

You may have dismissed eBay’s new Click and Collect as you don’t want to offer free delivery, or not offer tracked services. Is it time to revisit the delivery options you offer and make sure if the customer wants a particular service that they can select it?

How do the top 50 online retailers address delivery concerns from customers?

How important are fulfilment and delivery optionsIMRG recently published its quarterly ranking of the top 50 online retailers in the UK based on comScore’s MMX online measurement technology. The top 50 includes 26 non food and travel retailers. We wanted to know how these leading retailers addressed the delivery concerns present in so many customers via their respective homepages.

Clear Delivery information

Of the 26 retailers we studied, 5 stores displayed no clear delivery information on their homepages, choosing instead to simply have a link to delivery details on the site footer. Argos, Apple, Next and John Lewis all failed to clearly display delivery information. Amazon, being a marketplace displayed details of their Prime service rather than specific delivery details which is understandable. Most surprising in this group is Next, which famously offers next day delivery on orders up 10pm.

Clear Returns Information

18 of the 26 retailers failed to display any returns info on their homepages. For the likes of Apple, PC World and Currys, this is understandable due to consumer electronics returns policies. However for fashion retailers such as Debenhams, River Island, and Bohoo, to not display a prominent returns policy is quite surprising, especially considering the fashion sector has the highest returns rate in eCommerce, often as high as 40%. Other retailers which failed to display returns details on their homepages included Argos, Next, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Sports Direct, Homebase, Very, Ikea, Boots, and JD Sports.

Click and Collect Information

Whilst still in its infancy, click and collect is set to be used by 76% of online shoppers by 2017. 13 retailers displayed a click and collect delivery option on their homepage. Interestingly 12 of these retailers were multichannel operators, with only Very.co.uk as the only pure play retailer which displayed Collect+ as a delivery option. Of course, offering click and collect services as a multichannel operator offers several added benefits, including reduced stock mileage, increased footfall, and lower fulfilment costs. B&Q, Debenhams, Boots, Currys, New Look, Homebase, Screwfix, House of Fraser, Halfords, PC World, Wickes and Matalan all displayed click and collect via store info via their homepages.

Premium Delivery Information

Many retailers chose to publicise their premium delivery proposition via the homepage. Premium delivery options such as next day, Saturday, and named day services were all offered. Of the 26 studied, 17 retailers displayed premium delivery info, including B&Q, O2, Currys, Screwfix, and JD Sports. The most popular premium delivery service advertised was a next day service.

Free Delivery Information

14 of the 26 retailers studied displayed a free delivery proposition via the homepage. Considering 66% of shoppers agreed that free delivery was the most important factor in choosing where they buy, it’s surprising that all 26 do not feature a free delivery proposition.

Of the 14 retailers that did display a free delivery proposition, only ASOS, Currys, Very, PC World, Littlewoods, and JD Sports displayed a free delivery proposition which did not include a spend threshold.

8 retailers including B&Q, Debenhams, Sports Direct, New Look, Screwfix, House of Fraser, Wickes and Matalan offered free delivery above a spend threshold. The average free delivery threshold in this group was £53.13. At the upper end, Sports Direct offered free delivery on a spend of £100, whilst at the lower end, Debenhams offered free delivery above £30. New look also listed their free delivery threshold for each their premium delivery services, something no other retailer did.

Interestingly, of the 12 retailers which failed to display a free delivery proposition via their homepage, 8 of the 12 did offer a free delivery option, typically above a threshold. They simply chose not to publicise this fact on their homepage. Surely then, there is a case for displaying this clearly. In fact, only Argos, Homebase, and River Island failed to offer a free delivery option at the time of the study.

Combined Premium delivery, free delivery, and returns policy information

Just four retailers displayed their full range of premium delivery, free delivery, and returns policies in simple form via the homepage. The four retailers were Screwfix, B&Q, New Look, and Matalan. The preferred method for displaying this information was via a banner directly above or below the main navigation menu. New Look offered by far the most comprehensive delivery and returns information, with a range of delivery methods, thresholds, and click and collect services detailed in a simple menu as pictured below.

New Look

In summary, we can see that retailers are trying to overcome delivery concerns in a variety of ways. But with order fulfilment and delivery methods being key drivers in how, and where customers shop online, we can expect to see more developments in how retailers communicate their propositions in the coming months and years.