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Kiddicare was the winner of the Snow Valley's recent Golden Chariot award for online retail delivery excellence.
So what has Kiddicare been doing right with its delivery policies and processes?
I'll look at this, as well as some highlights from Snow Valley's 2012 Online Retail Delivery report...
What does Kiddicare get right?
Information is clear on product pages. Its next day and one hour delivery slots are promoted, while there are clear links to delivery details.
In addition, the delivery countdown timer is a great addition.
Many people will take as long as they possibly can to make a decision. The timer on the page adds a sense of urgency which encourages people to speed up their decision about the purchase.
The retailer also presents a range of options: next day delivery, Saturday delivery, or selecting a one-day delivery slot.
It also provides as much convenience for the customer as possible. The SMS service is an excellent example of this.
Customers can be kept informed of despatch and delivery by text, and also have the option to rearrange delivery if they want to.
The importance of the 'last mile' cannot be overstated. A retailer can provide an excellent online experience, competitive prices, and great products, but this means nothing if you fail to get the goods delivered on time.
Kiddicare won thanks to an all round performance, from clarity of information and a range of delivery options, excellent customer service, as well as actually delivering the goods on time.
Judging by recent activity on its Twitter page, Kiddicare also seems to be responding to customer comments and questions.
It is this attention to detail which can help to differentiate retailers in an increasing competitive e-commerce market.
Some more highlights from the report...
Delivery costs and timescales are a big part of the purchase decision for shoppers, and retailers need to be upfront about costs.
Customers should know about delivery options and costs well before they reach the checkout.
When did the customer first see the delivery charge for their order?
The vast majority are showing delivery charges on either the product page (43.4%) or the basket page (37.5%)
Of these, the product page is preferable, as it allows customers to see all of the information relevant to their purchase before they click the add to basket button.
There has been steady improvement here too. Just 34% showed delivery charges on product pages last year. The number waiting until checkout to reveal charges is falling too, from 21.3% last year to 17.3% this year.
If we look at the same stats for the 58 retailers from the Hitwise Hot Shops list, we can see that more are following best practice in this area. 58.6% show charges on product pages, and just 15.5% wait until checkout.
73.9% of deliveries arrived within the stated timeframe, but 8.7% did not arrive, the retailer could not accept an order, or the order was cancelled.
Retailers unresponsive on Twitter
The use of social media for customer service is growing, but many retailers clearly need to be putting more effort into answering customer queries.
A study from April last year found that just 25% of retailers with a Twitter account responded to a question directed at them, with an average response time of 94 minutes.
Snow Valley's stats paint a similar picture, though the test was slightly different. The researchers asked a question with the retailer's name included in the tweet. Just 31 of 253 (12.3%) retailers responded to these questions.
Not all of these retailers will have a Twitter account, but it still suggests that there is plenty of room for improvement.
Image credit: D H Wright via Flickr.