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Delivery has come a long way since the early days of ecommerce, but some online retailers are still failing to offer a range of delivery options to suit their customers' needs. 

As stats from a new Econsultancy Multichannel Retail Survey show, customers are demanding more flexibility in delivery options, and retailers need to offer this to increase conversions. 

The survey, conducted using the Toluna survey tool, found that 50% of respondents had abandoned a purchase online due to unsatisfactory delivery options. 

So which options are customers looking for, and who is offering them? 

Lack of delivery options = abandoned purchases

The figure of 50% abandoning purchases due to inadequate delivery options does seem high (this was an online survey, and so skews towards the 'tech-savvy'), but it shows the importance of providing choice for consumers. 

Let's face it, not everyone has the time to wait around for deliveries, so more certainty is required. Standard delivery will suit some customers, and many would prefer to wait longer and have free or cheaper delivery.

However, there are people who want the product ASAP. If your competitor has next day delivery for the same item and you don't, you may lose out. 

This stat goes some way to proving this. 

Have you ever abandoned an online purchase due to lack of delivery options?

Which 'premium' delivery options do customers want?

Well, a fixed date is the most popular choice (31%), closely followed by next day delivery and the ability to collect from stores (both 24%). 

The common theme here is that, unlike the 'standard' delivery within two or three days, these options provide more certainty for customer and enable them to plan around delivery dates and times. 

Thinking about delivery options, what would make you more likely to buy online?

Which delivery options are retailers offering? 

The ecommerce industry has certainly improved over the years in this respect, and stats from the Micros Online Delivery Report show this. 

  • 68% of retailers offered the customer next day delivery in 2012, up from 61% for the previous year.
  • This figure increases to 81% when looking solely at retailers from the IMRG-Hitwise Hot Shops list. More established online retailers in other words. 
  • Not so many were offering nominated day delivery though - just 23% of all retailers, and 41% of those from the Hot Shops list. 
  • Saturday delivery is a great option to appeal to those customers who are out of the house during the week, but just 33% of all and 46% of Hot Shop retailers offer this. 

I've had a look at some well-know online retailers in the UK...

H&M

This is an area H&M should look into as its option (yes, there's only one) is very inflexible and not at all competitive compared with fashion rivals. 

A fixed charge where many offer standard delivery free, and a vague promise of delivery within four to six working days isn't really good enough. 

ASOS

ASOS covers most of these options, with next day and evening delivery, though it doesn't have a nominated day option. The use of Collect+ is growing, and this is a great option for pureplays with no high street presence, given the popularity of 'reserve and collect'. 

Tesco

Tesco has a good range of options, though they don't seem to be offered uniformly throughout the site. 

The option to request a call to arrange a convenient delivery time is an interesting one, though perhaps people would need to know dates before they decide on a purchase. 

House of Fraser

In House of Fraser, I've found a retailer that covers all bases. Same day, nominated day, next day, collect in store, you name it. 

This should ensure that, if customers do abandon a purchase on the site, it won't be due to lack of convenient delivery options. 

Econsultancy's JUMP event on October 9 is all about creating seamless multichannel customer experiences. Now, in its fourth year it will be attended by more than 1,200 senior client-side marketers. This year it forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.

Graham Charlton

Published 21 August, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Will O'Hara

I think delivery is a problem for the small to medium sized online retailer - probably more than any other ecommerce element. They're not H&M or ASOS and they probably have maybe 1 or 2 stores at most (if at all) so they think they can't offer the 'click and collect' style option.

But - the Post Office offer this service to online retailers now in the form of 'Local Collect'. It costs the retailer 50p per delivery so it's not going to impact most people's margins too much. You let your customer choose their nearest Post Office (over 11,000 in the scheme - most people live within a mile or two of one) and then the retailer delivers the parcel there - it's trackable online too. Check out the full details here if it's something you're interested in :)

http://www.royalmail.com/parcel-despatch-low/uk-delivery/local-collect-business

P.S. I don't work for the Post Office ;)

about 3 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Presenting delivery options for users is getting tough for us, given the number of options, however it certainly is an important battleground. Consider our options:

- Buy online, 2-3 day delivery (side note: we dispatch stock from a central DC as well as all the stores)
- Buy online, Next day delivery (currently, 4pm cut-off due to DC location, although we seek to extend this)
- Buy online, nominated day delivery
- Buy online, collect in-store (all stock, may take 2 days)
- Buy online, collect in-store (store stock, ready in an hour)
- Buy online, collect at Collect+ location
- Buy online, Shutl delivery from 90mins (launch pre-Christmas)
- Reserve store stock, purchase in-store

Choice paralysis for the user is a serious concern!

Leveraging our growing store estate and the distributed nature of the stock is key here.

about 3 years ago

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Emma Dixon

Asos offers nominated day delivery if you are an Asos premier member (an account that costs £10 for the year that allows you to have unlimited free next day delivery and nominated day delivery). Great incentive to pay the £10!

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Stuart - it seems, like HoF, you have all bases covered. I can see the point about choice paralysis, though presumably you took the view that providing the range of options was worth it?

about 3 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

@Graham I think what are today's class-leading services will become 2015's hygiene factors.

While some of the services are quite new, we don't see too many gaps (unless someone launches delivery by robotic aerial drone), we'll continue to work on how they are presented and ensure that the maximum possible product selection is available to the maximum number of customers using as many of our services as possible.

This aspect of multi-channel retail has an influence on our decisions about new stores as well.

about 3 years ago

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Phoenix UX

@Stuart Is great to see that retailers understand how important the delivery experience is for today's modern consumer. As you mentioned, having a good range of delivery options will become the norm (hopefully) for all retailers, what is important to keep in mind at the end of the day is that people want a simple, fast and cost-effective delivery process.

about 3 years ago

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Jason Munslow, Head of Digital at HOMEDECOR

Graham

Did the consumers expectations change for high ticket items like furniture or for made to measure items?

about 3 years ago

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Daniel Clutterbuck

Nice post Graham, I've mentioned this before to H&M. Footlocker and Hugo Boss are the same. Their cart abandonment funnel must look atrocious.

Do you ever think online retailers will gather together in small out of town retail pods similar to the outlet parks?

Danny

about 3 years ago

Matt Naughton

Matt Naughton, Head of Digital Marketing at Lights4fun

We offer both next day delivery with DPD, SMS notifications, 15 minute window, all the bells and whistles, for only £5.95 per order.
We also offer economy courier with Hermes - no tracking until signed which takes up to 5 working days for £4.50.

You would be staggered to see how many customers opt for the £4.50 choice. Everyone is out to save a few pounds, and delivery isn't getting any cheaper. So in your title question, what do customers want? For most of the year they want it cheap. Unless it's Christmas and then it's all about speed!

about 3 years ago

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Nick Gibbs, Commercial Development Manager at Hitachi Capital

I think the real breakthrough in this area will be when a logistics solution allows as near real-time delivery as possible. The physical store allows consumers instant gratification and the retailers that can get as near to this model as possible will be real winners in this space. A few years ago a company set up to install lockers in petrol stations and then emailed out a unique PIN so the consumer could go and pick up their goods from a local source. The beauty of this outlet was that petrol station forecourts are often open 24 hours allowing customers to pick up goods outside of normal working hours and could often be scheduled so that the pick up could be done on the way to work, way home, etc. The model didn't work at the time as the internet was still in it's infancy, but perhaps timing is right for a similar model to emerge....

about 3 years ago

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Colin McDermott

Well remember the petrol station exercise that Nick Gibb mentions. Apart from whatever 'Internet Infancy' issues there may have been, 'security' was a big issue with the trial. The ubiquity of petrol stations and their 24/7 type opening hours proved likely to be very attractive to vendors but these sites are equally attractive to the criminal element, for the same reasons. You only have to recognise the number of petrol stations that will no longer allow a cash point within the store these days.

My own user experience as a fairly regular Internet shopper, has shown me that the parcelling industry has made tremendous improvements in recent times with their use of mobile contact numbers, texting/SMS and improved web tracking. Also the recent change in Post Office practice to allow deliveries to go to a neighbour is another sign of the BAU recognition of modern shopping practices and, as Will O'Hara mentioned above, the Post Office drop-off initiative is a winner too.

Lots more innovation to come I'm sure, but giving the customer the right delivery choices is key to the overall perception of a great shopping experience.

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Jason - it's not a question we asked, as the survey covers various aspects of multichannel retail, not just delivery (more to come on that soon).

I would guess that the answer to your question is yes, especially as delivery of such items require more planning.

Incidentally, our earlier Christmas shopping survey found that consumers would be prepared to pay a premium for certain delivery options like same day and nominated slots.

http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/christmas-2012-online-shopping-survey-report

about 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Daniel Not sure about that one. I can see the benefits to pureplays of having a reserve and collect style option, and things like Collect+ and Amazon's lockers can fulfil this role, though it doesn't allow people to get a feel for products in store, which is one advantage multichannel retailers do have.

Perhaps we'll see more experiments with things like pop-up shops, but I think the costs involved in holding stock in stores will deter most

about 3 years ago

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Ben Goodwin, Email marketing manager at Personal

Delivery is easy.

Tell the customer when they're going to get their goods and give them options.

Have a slower service? Don't say 7-10 days, say between September 7th and 10th.

Have a next day? Say 'tomorrow' and preferably give options on pre 10am, 12pm etc.

It's not that hard to get this right, yet very few people do it.

Also, don't be so scared of the 1% that aren't delivered on time.

about 3 years ago

Daniel Martin

Daniel Martin, Principal Consultant for Retail at Maxymiser

As Charlton states, one of the most marked shifts in online retail over the past 18 months has been the emphasis on customer delivery and fulfilment options, not least the huge growth in Click & Collect and the increasing interest in Collect Plus where goods are delivered to a nearby hub, such as a newsagent.

The new offer of ‘next evening delivery’ is another option to hit the market, but in their aims to win the delivery and fulfilment battle, retailers need to ensure that they are not just offering a range of options, but that they are offering the right option for their customer base, at the right time – and that they are presenting these correctly on their site. It is clear that from consumer profiles to product mix, fulfilment and delivery options will vary considerably and it is therefore essential to test consumer response to different delivery options to maximise performance.

This information will underpin what must be also an evolving fulfilment strategy. For example, whilst 12 months ago consumers were unsure about using Collect Plus, retesting the option of picking up goods from a local newsagent today may well prompt a very different response.

And with the growth in behavioural targeting, there is also an option to target different delivery options based on customer segments and/or previous behaviour.

It is all about ensuring retailers are giving consumers the right choices to aid them in making their decision. Testing is an excellent way to ensure you are offering the right customer the right delivery option and not one that isn't available at that time or in that area. With such radical shifts in customer service experience now becoming possible, the pressure to get the right delivery and fulfilment processes in place is increasing fast. The ability to test new processes and delivery options in real time is becoming increasingly key to tracking the development of new logistics models and maximising the investment in these new services.

www.maxymiser.com

about 3 years ago

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Matt Isaacs, Senior Ecommerce Manager at Perricone MD

Looking at H&M though an even bigger problem may be that they only deliver to residential addresses? How inconvenient is that!

Maybe they don't have UK warehousing? I ordered from Quiksilver a few weeks back and discovered that they ship everything from France, hence why they don't offer a next day service.

Incidentally, I'll never order from them again - horrific customer experience.

In any case, surely what is missing from this survey is what the customer is willing to pay?

I'm pretty sure I would answer that evening delivery would make me want to buy online - especially the same day - but not if its going to cost me £10 and I'm only spending £30. It makes the results a bit misleading.

Problem for companies that sell in small volumes is that you can't get the rates. Unless you are using 3rd party warehousing where you can benefit from their rates, but you are then bound by their tech, which is very possibly awful and unable to take the data you want to send.

about 3 years ago

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Philip Oakley

I think H&M have a problem with stock too. Tried to place an order on Saturday only to find at the checkout the earliest delivery date was November!!!

It's clear that it's good customer service to provide the consumer with lots of options to suit their flexibility but Stu makes a good point around choice paralysis.

Finding the balance, or mix, of options to provide a flexible service for the consumer while understanding it's impact on bottom line is key

about 3 years ago

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liusiwei

Customer benefits need is reputation

about 3 years ago

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