Abingdon, Oxford - 25 January 2008 - Many on-line retailers continue to flourish in the face of tough times so why does on-line fail repeatedly to deliver against expectations?

Huw Thomas, chief operating officer at retail systems experts, PMC (Paul Mason Consulting) states: "There’s nothing more important than delivery. Poor delivery destroys marketing, sales and customer care messages. That’s true for any organisation that interacts with its customers but it’s most obvious through the on-line channel."

When customers buy products in a store, they pay, they leave and apart from the possibility of someone opening the door as they leave, that’s it. They’re satisfied and will probably return. With e-commerce, paying for the goods is a long way from the final point of the transaction. That final point - delivery to the doorstep - is too often where the process fails.

Thomas continues: "What happens with doorstep delivery if you’re out? Usually, there’s a card pushed through your door stating the package is at a local sorting office. That’s fine but have you noticed how these places are always hard to find, miles away and only open when you’re busy. Even when the delivery finds you at home the process can fail to meet expectation. Often the driver that arrives at your house smells of cigarette smoke (and so does your package) and it’s as much as they can do to be pleasant.

"Last time I was out however, the process worked. I returned to find a card with the following message: “I tried to deliver a package today but you were out so just ring this number and I’ll redeliver when it’s convenient for you.” When I called a polite lady checked that I was home and said she would be round in five minutes. And she was. My expectations were set and met."

On-line success comes down to setting expectations. Every touch with the customer impacts perception. It doesn’t matter where the contact happens or at what level because most contacts eventually concern delivery. Under deliver in one channel a customer won’t interact with you in another, so create a delivery mechanism to deliver against expectations – or hopefully beat them.

Thomas maintains that the issue is easy to fix. "It demands seeing the entire problem and managing to ensure that expectation fits reality. On-line retailers accept the ‘last mile’ is important in customer service. The breakdown occurs on-line because ‘last mile’ thinking is not enough. The impact of ‘delivery’ continues until the customer buys again.

"So why does delivery continue to fail expectation? Because too many retailers don’t analyse the process and fail to establish what ‘good’ looks like. How then can they hope to achieve ‘good’? Remember the lady who called at my door and left a card – someone thought about that process end-to-end. They thought about it a lot, decided what ‘good’ looked like, and it worked."


About PMC (Paul Mason Consulting):
Retail systems experts, PMC (Paul Mason Consulting) offers its clients combined retail and IT experience, gained through working at the sharp end of the retail environment. PMC provides business consultancy services covering retail systems strategy, multichannel retailing, system selection, project implementation, support, permanent and contract recruitment and training. The company’s IT implementation services are designed to eliminate implementation concerns and ensure problem free performance. They include project management, configuration, testing, software building, integration and custom enhancements. PMC offers an extensive range of complementary services in conjunction with its business partner network. This encompasses rollout management, network design, training and help desk, recruitment, contract negotiation, procurement and hardware maintenance. www.paulmasonconsulting.co.uk

PR contact for Paul Mason Consulting:
Timothy Diplock
Maxim PR
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 463 464
Fax: +44 (0) 1494 444 330
Email: timothyd@maxim-marketing.co.uk

Published on: 12:00AM on 25th January 2008