The continuing postal dispute could have a serious impact on online sales this Christmas, as customer confidence in delivery is damaged by the uncertainty.
James Roper of IMRG told The Telegraph that online retailers are already concerned about the strikes, and that customers will quickly lose confidence in buying online if the strikes continue.
Roper told The Telegraph:
"The strike is destroying the industry. Our industry works on confidence and trust of the customers. The Royal Mail is the only doorstep delivery business in the UK."
"The effects will be permanent. Internet shopping is delivery and if that is uncertain then the industry is uncertain. It will hit Christmas sales and the Royal Mail in the long term."
While big online retailer like Tesco.com, Argos and Amazon will escape the worst effects as they have their own delivery methods, any continuation of the postal dispute could have a serious impact on smaller retailers, which tend to rely more on the Royal Mail.
Such retailers will need to seek out alternative solutions. Firebox MD Christian Robinson said that his firm normally uses a combination of secure couriers and the Royal Mail for delivery.
According to Robinson:
"During situations such as this we roll out measures to deliver all our orders via secure courier, this is so our customers see no interruption to service."
"At the end of the day the show must go and we will adapt. We do though hope that the situation is resolved quickly and amicably to allow normal service to resume. "
Customer confidence is a big factor here, and companies which have alternative delivery methods will also need to convince customers that they can deliver on time.
Delivery is one of the biggest issues for customers who do their Christmas shopping online, and concerns about delivery can prevent many from shopping online.
Dabs.com has the right idea, and addresses possible customer concerns about delivery with a prominent notice on its homepage advising that their deliveries will not be affected by the strikes.
Dabs.com has responded to the postal strikes by switching all deliveries previously carried out by Royal Mail to another carrier.
According to Dabs' Head of Online Marketing Michelle Helme:
"Dabs uses a number of different carriers to enable us to get customers orders out to them as quickly as possible and to cover any instances such as this."
"Since the strike action began, we switched all deliveries usually destined for Royal Mail to an alternative carrier. Therefore there has been no disruption to customer orders and we are delivering as normal and to the same time scales as we always do."
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