Last mile delivery is a serious challenge for retailers. In this
QAD Precision Report, we look at the necessity of e-commerce
Last year upended e-commerce in ways that are still reverberating.
From March, e-commerce volumes grew exponentially, reaching peak-like
levels. Now 18 months later, retailers are bracing for supply
chain disruptions and high
peak season delivery surcharges.
It is a truism to say that a successful e-commerce delivery strategy
is one that prioritizes customer convenience and satisfaction. But
putting this into practice is a significant challenge.
Think back to the last time you shopped online. Were you satisfied
with the delivery experience? Or were you frustrated by lack of clear
communications from the retailer regarding your delivery?
Clear communications that set delivery expectations should be a
priority. An online shopper may be happy to wait, for example, three
days for a delivery. This goodwill — and trust in the e-commerce
business — evaporates if the delivery takes five, six days or longer.
Another aggravation for e-commerce shoppers is mismatched
communications from retailers and carrier tracking services. An e-commerce
delivery strategy should include real-time updates from
carriers. These can be communicated to customers via email or text message.
Conflicting messages from retailers and carriers about the status of
packages is frustrating for customers. One report found that 42
percent of online shoppers want real-time
updates on packages. That’s the same percentage of people that
want free shipping.
E-commerce shopping and in-store purchases are not necessarily
completely different activities. Many customers use online shopping
platforms to research products before purchasing in-store. There are a
number of reasons for this.
We may want to experience the look and feel of a product before
purchasing. Perhaps we want to check the quality of an expensive
purchase, or try on clothing for size. Sometimes we need a purchase
straight away and cannot wait for delivery. A seamless
omnichannel experience that prioritizes customer satisfaction is
key to driving sales and customer loyalty.
Clear communications are equally important here. Retailers and
omnichannel sellers should make the purchasing decision easy. This
means including enough information to allow the shopper to complete
the buying journey whether they shop online or in-store. One survey
found that 47
percent of shoppers in the US have left a store frustrated
because what they wanted was not available.
A retailer’s e-commerce platform should include information about
availability, and allow customers to choose a click-and-collect
option. This combines the convenience of e-commerce with the instant
gratification of in-store purchases.
As customers, many of us are impatient, demanding and lacking in
time. As a result, e-commerce and omnichannel retailers need to make
the entire buying journey easy and convenient.
Although all retailers understand the importance of e-commerce, many
do not consider the importance of the last mile. Many invest their
resources in capturing business through their e-commerce stores,
social media posts and advertisements. However, they fall at the final
hurdle by treating the last mile as the carrier’s problem — not theirs.
Retailers who do so are making a mistake. The customer journey
encompasses everything from the initial browse to the order
fulfillment and delivery of purchased goods. The shipping experience
is central to the shopping experience. As a result, e-commerce and
omnichannel sellers need a variety of flexible delivery flow paths to
ensure customer satisfaction.
Lack of acceptable delivery options is a major reason for shopping
cart abandonment. Approximately half
of all e-commerce shoppers have abandoned a purchase because of
poor delivery options. They may have been too expensive, too long or
inconvenient. Furthermore, 39 percent of shoppers will not shop with a
retailer again if they have a poor delivery experience.
As a result, e-commerce delivery optimization is crucial. There is no
single delivery optimization strategy. It depends on what a retailer
sells, where they ship and where they might ship in future.
Capabilities could include:
Flexible, personalized delivery options including
click-and-collect, time-definite delivery, free delivery and
Access to a domestic, regional or global multi carrier shipping
network offering cost-effective shipping services as well as
A central portal for tracking all packages, with exception alerts
for deliveries at risk of missing their delivery dates
Real-time updates of package statuses to customers
Ship-from-store capabilities turning retail outlets into
Easy, convenient and free returns options
Getting the last mile right takes time, planning and investment. If a
retailer is to compete against online marketplaces and e-commerce
behemoths, this is critical. Any retailer that sells online must have
a strategy that meets their customers expectations and controls
delivery costs. If they don’t, customers will take their business elsewhere.
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AND SUSTAINABLE LAST-MILE DELIVERY OPTIONS
RETAILERS NEED FLEXIBLE MULTI CARRIER SHIPPING SOFTWARE
MINUTE EXPLAINER: WHAT IS DELIVERY EXCEPTION MANAGEMENT?