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Retailers need a laser focus on delivery process
The delivery process is too often the part ecommerce that gets the least attention. Yes, all online retailers look for the fastest way to process parcels and the courier that gives them the best service for the lowest possible price. But what about the delivery experience that the consumer really wants – do they even know their options? Today, Matthew Robertson, Co-CEO at NetDespatch dives into the delivery process and suggests a laser focus on logistics is key to success.
Festival season is upon us as the ecommerce market continues to heat up
I recently read an article, published in June, that talked about the fact that business-to-consumer ecommerce turnover in the UK is expected to reach over 200 billion euros by the end of this year. Think about that for a minute, ecommerce in the UK is set to reach 200 billion euros in 2019! That would mean an increase of 14.6% compared to the situation last year, when UK ecommerce was worth almost 175 billion euros.
This number was disclosed by Ecommerce Foundation’s report about the United Kingdom. And while the share of the British population using the internet was at 95% during the last three years, for this year a share of 96% is expected. This means that millions of people are expected to generate these ecommerce sales which represents significant growth compared to the last couple of years.
So, what is driving this growth? We hear so much doom and gloom in the news about retail, it is hard to believe the growth figures predicted.
Without a doubt, retailers are under pressure to retain their customers, grow new customers and products and services, and many are looking at how they either start or continue to digitally transform their organisations as they look to automate every part of the supply and delivery chain. And while some retailers are still at the start of this journey, or struggling to understand what that journey looks like, many of the big online retailers, like Amazon for example, are honing it to perfection. The key to Amazon’s overall success is understanding how customers are shopping and being responsive to changing shopping habits. Amazon is not content to follow the crowd; its culture of innovation means it will lead the pack and give customers a shopping experience they didn’t even realise they wanted.
What the ecommerce report also showed is that the annual amount spent per online shopper has increased significantly. In 2015, the average amount was 2,515 euros, while last year it was already 3,254 euros. For this year, the Ecommerce Foundation thinks the average online shopper will spend 3,620 euros. This is leaving bricks and mortar retailers trailing behind, desperately fighting to keep pace. But they do have one advantage over the online retailers – they can look at how they make shopping experiential and rework how the store is set out so that the shopper enjoys the experience. For example, Sainsbury’s is building an experiential omnichannel ecosystem, with phone branches, pharmacies, opticians, dentists and even children’s learning centres in-store, alongside branded coffee shops and restaurants.
It was also interesting to read that, in the UK, home delivery during the day is still the most popular preference for online shoppers. For 61% of consumers this was the most preferred delivery method. Home delivery in the evening was preferred by 14%, while delivery to the mailbox or multi-occupancy mailbox by the mail carrier is the most ideal method for 13%.
But what we are seeing now is that, as ecommerce sales increase, so many retailers are starting to clamp down on their returns policies. In fact, some have sent warning emails to customers about their behaviour. There are a lot of items being sent back, in fact retailers estimate that 10% of items sold online and nine per cent of all items sold in store are returned by customers. A survey by Barclaycard found that 20% of retailers took steps to make their returns policy more stringent in the past year, with 19% planning to do so in the next 12 months. Key factors for this were that many customers are over-ordering items, knowing they will return the majority and many retailers claim shoppers are using items and returning them, or they are returning goods without the packaging or sending them back outside the returns policy deadlines. But will more stringent returns policies actually help protect revenues or will this actually deter shoppers from buying goods?
Certainly, when we did our returns research here at NetDespatch, we found that what consumers hate about online shopping is returning parcels and the easier and more painless this is made, the more likely the consumer will opt for that brand or certainly it will impact their view of the brand.
As the ecommerce market continues to grow, automating processes, thinking about ease of returns and despatching orders to consumers as quickly and efficiently as possible will certainly make the whole shopping experience a more palatable one. Retailers and carriers need to cut any fat out of the whole ordering and delivery process in order to compete. To do this effectively, retailers and carriers should also get shoppers to explore other delivery options to bring down the price of parcel delivery. In fact, I was quite surprised that so many shoppers still prefer home delivery, and this made me wonder if retailers both online and instore are doing enough to educate users about all the options available to them.
As we head into the summer months, the warm weather coupled with summertime activities such as weddings and music festivals open up a wealth of opportunities for retailers. But this also means a laser focus on the whole delivery process is required to ensure that it is as streamlined and cost effective as possible, so retailers remain competitive and take their share of the anticipated ecommerce growth.
I think sums up the continuing tightening fo return rules nicely…
‘There are a lot of items being sent back, in fact retailers estimate that 10% of items sold online and nine per cent of all items sold in store are returned by customers. A survey by Barclaycard found that 20% of retailers took steps to make their returns policy more stringent in the past year, with 19% planning to do so in the next 12 months. Key factors for this were that many customers are over-ordering items, knowing they will return the majority and many retailers claim shoppers are using items and returning them, or they are returning goods without the packaging or sending them back outside the returns policy deadlines’
So why should retailers be loosing even more money by making it even easier?
The fact is that sadly too many simply see retailers asa ‘free ride’ and it is simply not sustainable. We get regular returns for false reasons so as to get it free. Many items are returned used, damaged, completely missing any original packaging, bits taken out, or simply stated as faulty… yet a quick check shows it to be perfectly good.
I fear that this is all a result of the big companies spending the last few decades falling over themself to reward customer or draw them in. people have become accustomed to something for nothing and now many feel they should never be out of pocket regardless of whether or not it is their fault.
If your product is good, the price is right, and your service is good… then the chances are the only ones you will loose via a tighter but fair returns process, are those that cost you money rather than make you money.
its the economy of scale with returns
if you sell enough you can afford a percentage of returns,
indeed many Chinese sellers make it quite clear if you dont like it they will refund and you can keep it