Each month, I log onto the Tesco.com website and place my food order. A few days later, in the evening, a delivery truck turns up within its allotted two hour slot, and a stack of crates arrives on my doorstep. This is against all odds.

You see, I live in an area of Bristol called Cotham, which is a lovely place but has an unfortunate habit of naming most of its streets Cotham “Something”; Cotham Road, Cotham Hill, Cotham Brow, Cotham Grove, Cotham Park, and inexplicably, Cotham Park North. I live at Cotham Park Mansions, which isn’t as glamorous as it sounds, imagine the Addams Family Mansion, carved up into flats.

Cotham Park Mansions is also positioned on a crossroads, so its entrance is theoretically on Archfield Road, and not Cotham Park North as insisted by address lookup engines. It also shares its driveway with Archfield House, another collection of flats.

Great, so you’ve just told potential stalker types your address, why?

Well, lets go back to Tesco, and the service they provide. Tesco only offer two hour delivery windows, delivery can be expensive (up to £6), and the Tesco.com website still has a predilection for occasionally serving its aspx files as downloads rather than webpages. So why do I continue to shop there, as opposed to Sainsburys.co.uk?

Because I know that Tesco will find where I live.

I was once tempted to try Sainsburys. I’d received a promotional email giving me free delivery, and something silly like 10% off my first order. Since Tesco.com still refuse to sort out my Clubcard (the site errors the moment I go near it) I had no incentive to continue shopping there.
Tesco Clubcard Error Message

Well, I’m not enjoying it so far

So I went ahead and placed my £150-odd order on the Sainsbury’s site. But alas, when I got to the checkout, I had no opportunity to enter any details to the driver to help them get to where I live. To make matters worse, the address lookup engine insisted that I lived at a completely different address on Cotham Park North, and didn’t give me enough field space to correct it.

Sainsburys don't offer anywhere to give delivery instructions
You will not find me using this address, and not just because it’s blurry.

However, with trepidation and the firm belief that these people must know what they’re doing. I went ahead and placed the order to be delivered two days later.

The evening of delivery came, and I waited, safe in the knowledge that I only had an hour to wait, not two.

And so I waited. And waited. An hour and a half passed. Eventually I got a phone call. The driver couldn’t find where I lived. He’d gone to the wrong address. Sigh.

So, despite having a home delivery infrastructure, control over round sheet formatting and details, and an otherwise really rather good website, Sainsbury’s had decided not to ask for the crucial piece of information that would have made my first experience with them a success.

Right, they need to fix that. By the way, what makes you the expert on this?

Well, as you may know by now, I run a site that primarily serves the very elderly, which brings a whole other need for delivery instructions, our customer is likely to be visual and/or motor impaired.
Wiltshire Farm Foods gives plenty of space for delivery instructions

This is a typical example of the delivery instructions we receive

Which is why I continue to use Tesco. Tesco, you see, offer a large text box to enter the convoluted instructions needed to deliver to me.
Tesco allow you to enter basic delivery instructions

Why does this matter?

Well, after reading the recent post on bad etail delivery, it had me thinking. What does the consumer actually care about? I would suggest that number one thought in their mind is having the physical product in their hands. However, getting the delivery experience right seems to be the last thing on etailers minds.

How many people do you know who live in a house nowadays? Certainly in urban areas (where car ownership/use is lower than rural areas, to compound the matter) most folk live in flats, in carved up locations with multiple entry points, designed to get as many people per square foot as possible.

Again, if you don’t monitor it, you can’t improve it. Having an order feedback mechanism, that solicits feedback about the delivery experience, is crucial.  Expect the need for delivery instructions to increase.