Consumers shopping online with some of the UKs leading retailers can expect little or no choice when it comes to delivery options, according to new findings published by Metapack, the leading provider of Delivery Management Solutions.

Less than 12% of retailers give their customers the chance to specify a day for delivery and just 20% provide a Saturday delivery option. Less than a third of the sites reviewed communicate any delivery information before the customer reaches the shopping basket, meaning that the customer is expected to enter personal information in advance of knowing when they will get their order or how much it will cost. Sixty percent offer just one standard delivery option and a further fifteen percent just two different options.

Commenting on the findings Patrick Wall, CEO of Metapack, said: Last year we saw customer concerns about delivery overtake security as the major reason why people dont buy online and this research confirms that their fears may well be well founded in many cases. This level of customer service would not be acceptable in store and is certainly failing to meet customer expectations.

The Delivery Excellence Research 2005 undertaken by MetaPack reviewed 130 top multi-channel, catalogue and pureplay websites, focusing on the overall delivery proposition offered by each. This included the delivery cost, time and choices available to the customer on varying products and at which stage of the shopping and checkout process these options were presented (pre and post basket). The research revealed an enormous diversity in delivery propositions currently being offered to consumers.

Results also revealed that on nearly two thirds of the sites visited, the cost of delivery was only communicated during the checkout process and information about delivery timescales was not clear and upfront but mainly accessible in the general terms and conditions. Finally most retailers have so little confidence in their delivery proposition that 95% do not offer a guaranteed delivery.

Patrick Wall, CEO of MetaPack, concludes: Delivery options have become more important than price as consumers who shop online look for a delivery service that is convenient and suits their lifestyle. In response to this retailers need to implement a cost effective delivery management solution that provides customers with choice if they are to compete effectively as online trading increases. Those that invest wisely and make improvements in this area can expect increased sales conversion, improved delivery margins and reduced costs right across their operations, as well as improved customer satisfaction and retention. To date Boots, B&Q, Comet, Dixons, John Lewis, Mothercare and Screwfix have significantly improved their delivery proposition by implementing MetaPack DMS (Delivery Management System).

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