In ecommerce, it can be all-too easy to focus only on making your website more efficient, while leaving the actual delivery of your goods in the hands of the Gods. But the buying process doesn’t finish when the customer leaves your website. It ends when the customer has received their product, and more importantly, is happy with what they’ve ordered and the service they’ve received.
Even if your delivery processes are fast, it may not be enough. Receiving a missed delivery slip or worse still, no delivery at all due to the courier not being able to find the address could mean your customer is telling the twittersphere quicker than you can eat a mince pie. Of course, these issues become even more important in the lead up to Christmas especially with the success of this year’s Black Friday, reports from Big Data Labs says online traffic was up significantly compared to the previous year.
Return to Sender
In the past few years the Independent has reported that hundreds of thousands of people who opted to do their Christmas shopping online, were left frustrated by disastrous service, with many struggling to trace missing parcels or get their money back. The report uncovered that, a staggering 225,000 parcels failed to arrive each day over the Christmas period when promised.
Another, from Which?, found that 60% of people shopping online over Christmas had problems with delivery. The worst problems faced by disappointed online shoppers included Christmas presents disappearing; packages being left at the wrong address; couriers claiming addresses didn’t exist; days wasted waiting for non-existent deliveries; and spending large sums calling premium-rate numbers to try to track down missing parcels. Whether or not you believe the accuracy of these figures, failed delivery is still a key problem for retailers at Christmas. Beyond postage costs, undelivered mail means extra costs and a damaged reputation for your company. So what can you do about it?
Providing consumers with timed delivery slots is one way to avoid these hassles. Shoppers may have to take the day off work or make special arrangements for someone to wait for an item to arrive. Providing delivery slots allows customers to allocate a time that is convenient to them. Offering delivery windows dramatically improves the level of customer service you can offer as a business. It’s not only a competitive advantage: it’s the kind of service consumers will expect when ordering online.
Another proven solution is to build delivery flexibility into the checkout so customers can tap into local delivery outlets, either free of charge at their local store or by using a service like Collect+. The advantage here is that the customer doesn’t have to be in to receive the delivery, it’s sent to a local outlet where the parcel is kept for up to 7 days and the customer can pop in at their convenience. Many of the local outlets are open until 8pm, most are garages or corner shops making it really easy to pop-in after work.
In a recent consumer survey carried out by PCA Predict 95% said they would use Click and Collect this Christmas and 79% said they would use it for products such as gadgets, wearables and house hold technology. The convenience of offering Click and Collect, especially for such high ticket items, will be a winner in the eyes of the consumer this Christmas.
Although this isn’t unique to peak trading, I’ve often found the driver to implement local collection services is the chaos from the previous Christmas cycle when failed deliveries and irate customers cost the business money and a loss of customer goodwill.
Amazon has gone one step further with their lockers – you unlock them using a code sent to your phone – in some shopping centres and supermarkets.
Royal Mail highlights incorrect and outdated addresses as one of the main reasons for post not reaching its intended destination. Therefore, an obvious suggestion would be to invest in intelligent form validation in the online checkout. In a test conducted with Usability experts Etre, Luke Wroblewski found that real-time validation caused a 22% increase in success rates and 31% increase in satisfaction rating. Every form field presents an opportunity for human error, technical error or simply confusion and frustration. Although mistyped data is often the fault of the customer, it’s up to the you the retailer to make sure you collect an accurate address, as you will be the ones to bear the brunt of the customer.
Retailers cannot take anything for granted this year. One bad experience can tarnish your business forever. In the end, when Santa doesn’t arrive on Christmas day it isn’t the couriers that get the blame, it’s the retailer.
A tale of two checkouts
Check out the perfect online journey cartoon which tells the story of a customer’s online order ahead of the office Christmas party. Will Cinderella go to the ball or will she be another frustrated online customer?