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Dissecting the delivery – What, When and Where can things go awry?

By Chris Dawson February 6, 2019 - 9:23 pm

A post we published earlier this week raised a ton of issues to do with delivery, not just on eBay but on any marketplace or ecommerce site. Whilst it was a bit of a disaster, what the post has done is highlight the service an online retailer can offer and how this compares with buyer behaviour and what can go wrong.

So firstly, having been back and done a thorough debrief and spoken to the retailer we can confirm that they did everything as you’d expect, shipping the product to the address they were given and triggering a confirmation email through their multichannel management software.

Delivery Addresses

The first issue that arose is an interesting one – the address. You’d think that addresses would be fairly simple things to get right but it appears that’s not the case. People sometimes use different variations of address format and, in general if they continue to get mail over months and years, they consider their version to be right. Putting the Post Code into Royal Mail’s address finder tells a different story however and gives the version of the address that Royal Mail consider correct. One thing that we’ve mentioned in the past is how fantastic it would be if all marketplaces verified addresses against Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF®). In the instance in question, it appears that Royal Mail had enough of the address to deliver.

There was another red herring, it appears that it’s quite easy to confuse which parcels you’ve ordered to go to home and which you may have used your office shipping address for. In this case investigations reveal that the delivery was destined for a home address, not the work address as first thought. Delivery to home when the recipient at work is never going to be a graceful solution, which is probably why the parcel was eventually delivered on a Saturday.

Finally, to complicate the issue, flats are notoriously difficult addresses to deliver to and Royal Mail themselves have highlighted this issue in the past.

What do you considered ‘Delivered’?

It would appear that consumer expectations of a delivery are markedly different to those who are sellers. As sellers we recognise our limitations that once we’ve shipped an item it’s out of our hands and, especially if we provide tracking numbers that the consumer should be on the look out for their parcel and make a modicum of effort to retrieve it.

Buyers don’t always (as we well know) get ‘While you were out’ cards. Sometimes it’s claimed that they weren’t left by the carrier and at other times they may get bundled up with someone else’s mail – especially in multiple occupancy residences and flats or apartment blocks. Often, if the buyer hasn’t supplied a mobile number for SMS notifications they may not notice emails or they can end up in spam.

Amazingly it turns out that, having made a purchase, there are buyers out there that simply wouldn’t chase the retailer if an item doesn’t arrive. Some it would appear, simply expect parcels to arrive.

What have we learnt?

Admitting that incorrect information was given, there still are many interesting points raised – address verification, tracking, carding, the possibility of designated safe places (which some sites do support) and what the customer considers delivered vs what a sellers’ view is. The debate over how much responsibility is down to the seller and when the customer really needs to step up will doubtless go on for some time.

  • James
    7 months ago

    I’m glad you have addressed the issue from the other article. One thing is certain, all courier companies have some tracking service built into their IT systems. Whether a seller chooses to use this or a buyer for that matter, the issue with shipping often becomes one of cost and whilst it would be ideal to have a tracked serviced for all parcels this is often cost prohibitive. A buyer expects free delivery , but doesn’t think that the seller bears that cost. The train of thought that the seller builds shipping into their cost is only true for fixed price items. When an auction method is used, such as Ebay . the seller does not have that luxury. Most buyers are very decent and accomodating when things go wrong, others are just wholly unreasnable and many don’t understand how the whole online process works so the seller suffers the consequences.

  • 7 months ago

    “Disastrous” indeed and appalling journalism. Since there has been no apology I am unsubscribing from tamebay. No longer articles that are written in an appropriate manner. Too much fake news these days . I do not want to read it here… I notice I can no longer add to that discussion. Goodbye!

    • Elizabeth
      7 months ago

      I agree, I was expecting an apology. To willy-nilly make such wild and false accusations is seriously irresponsible. These are people’s livelihoods at stake here. People who pour their hearts and souls into trying to be a good vendor, a vendor that customers would wish to return to. The same people who have subscribed to Tamebay thinking that it might offer them some help and advice. It is no wonder that such a defamatory article created such an emotional response and I don’t think this article in response goes anywhere near an explanation and very much side-steps taking responsibility for it.

  • James
    7 months ago

    Agreed no apology , twisted the initial facts and the article still remains pointing the finger at Ebay. It should have been completetly deleted.

  • James
    7 months ago

    Agreed , no apology and the article still remains on the site falsely pointing the finger of blame at the seller and Ebay. Interestingly I commented on this yesterday under another email address and my comments today using this email have not been recorded so I have used a different email – I found that intertesting too . I also note further commenting was turned off. Dreadful.

  • Toby
    7 months ago

    I have to agree…. might have been better to chase the supplier before writing the original article! However moving on from that (lesson learn’t i hope?)…
    Royal mail are notorious for not leaving calling cards, happens to me more often that i care to remember. We end up asking the buyer to check with the sorting office, some do, some openly wont, some claim to have done, and most worryingly is that some tell us that the sorting office refuse to even check without a card…
    The addresses we see on ebay are dreadful. some are missing house numbers or have a house name that isn’t the registered address on RM ( only the house number is). Then we have the ‘i can fit it all on one line’ lot, and the my address is sort of all jumbled. Now and again we get a postcode that isn’t right too. Yet somehow the likes of ebay seem to think this is ok to allow to happen, proberly as the buyer will blame the seller, the seller will get black marks and finally loose the tiny discounts they still get. Win win for ebay more money and no blame!
    No to go off on a tangent too much, but we are seeing more and more add a note to say can be left in porch etc… Well no. Sadly we get so many disputes now about items not being received that we dont allow ‘safe place’ anymore as it just causes agro. The same with leave with neighbour etc… the amount of disputes with this even is increasing. So either people really are stealing others items, or the realisation that you can just deny it and get it free is growing. This is fueled by the big compnaies just resending or refunding without question, great if you can afford it, but simply encouraging fraud.
    I don’t know what is worse right now…. market place demands or buyer demands… either way the seller is seen as a endless source of money and time.
    It has come to a point where after over 10 years of sucessful selling and building my business, I have now decided to bank as much money as i can over the next few years and then close down… life is hard enough.

  • ID
    7 months ago

    “One thing that we’ve mentioned in the past is how fantastic it would be if all marketplaces verified addresses against Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF®”

    The channels eBay, Amazon etc, will not do this as they do not want the consumer to think that there are any issues with the sales channel. An error on the checkout could cause a bad user experience which they do not want associated with their site.

    The address or postcode being wrong is of no consequence to them as a marketplace, as they do not do the shipping, so they make the user experience as nice as possible and then pass the problem down the line.

    The number of orders we get with “zero” instead on “O” in the postcode or similar is amazing, but the customers have had a nice experience on eBay or Amazon so the problem is shifted down the line for us to deal with. We use a multi channel software and all of the carriers will do a postcode verification at the point we despatch, so 99% of these are picked up., but it still takes time and effort to update orders manually in a very automated despatch process

  • 7 months ago

    Shame on Tamebay….

    The article https://tamebay.com/2019/02/1st-ebay-shopping-experience.html written By Sasha Fedorenko was a pack of lies.

    Unfortunately we do get buyers as stupid as her, so it does have some point.

  • JoeB
    7 months ago

    So basically the author of the article failed to provide the correct address, was confused about whether it was ordered for work or home address, didn’t bother to check the tracking the seller provided or contact the seller to ask for help.

    Yet somehow she manages to put the blame on eBay for her three week wait?

    And the follow up article tries to spin it to deflect blame from the author of the original article.

    Pathetic. Interestingly, my comments on the original article were never published.

    Tamebay has lost even more credibility in my view. A simple ‘I was wrong’ from Ms Fedorenko would go a long way.

  • jim
    7 months ago

    the cringe worthy attempt to justify the article
    damages this blogs credibility

  • Morten
    7 months ago

    Why have you not withdrawn the article from the 5th? Can’t you see from every comment that you are loosing the faith of your readers.. no readers = no tamebay, its not rocket science. Redact, apologize and move on.

    • 7 months ago

      I don’t think it should be removed. If you make a mistake, don’t cover it up or delete it from history. Explain why it happened and why it won’t happen in future.

      I think a final comment before locking the replies should be made by Tamebay, acknowledging that whatever else occured amongst incorrect addresses and other cock ups, it was poor form to blame the platform and seller without properly researching why the parcel hadn’t arrived when it should have. This new thread, while interesting enough looking at all the things that can go wrong with deliveries, doesn’t do that.

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