Want to keep your customers? Then work with more than one carrier


Anton Eder, co-founder of global enterprise post-purchase software provider parcelLab, tackles what retailers should put in place to ensure a seamless experience for their customers.

A quarter of businesses see 10 percent of orders experience a first attempt failed delivery. Failed deliveries cost so much more than money. They dent customer confidence in your business and impact your reputation.

YouGov published research that revealed that 48 percent of shoppers say a negative shipping or delivery experience will affect their relationship with the retailer. Indeed, 23 percent stated unequivocally that they are unwilling to order from a retailer again after a negative delivery experience.

With the Cost of Living crisis continuing, it is likely that more people will be dipping into their savings this year to buy presents. With so much financial pressure to contend with, customers will be even more likely to walk away from any retailer who they feel does not appreciate their custom. With unhappy customers come disgruntled reviews; which then impact both customer retention and attracting new customers. 

This is a longer term impact. The immediate impact of a failed delivery is financial. There is the cost of organising a redelivery – including the customer service staff time and the delivery staff time. The average cost of a failed delivery in the US is about $17.2 and £11.6 in the UK. On top of this, there will be any recompense that the customer seeks, whether in vouchers or in refunds. For all businesses, these costs are impactful but even more so for retailers who are selling smaller value items and therefore have smaller margins. Competition is fierce at the moment too so discounts, sales and free delivery will also cut into margins. 

However, and here is the big issue for retailers, the delivery process is often out of your hands. Once an order has been processed and handed over, it is then the responsibility of the carrier to deliver on time and to keep the customer up-to-date with the logistics. 

Last year, there was a perfect storm of unrelated issues that caused huge delivery issues. There were strikes at Royal Mail, unprecedented volumes of deliveries and labour shortages. It comes, therefore, as little surprise that, in January, a poll published by Money Saving Expert revealed widespread annoyance. Of respondents, 62 percent rated Evri as 'poor'. Yodel received 39 percent and 22 percent for UK Mail. Following this poll, Citizens Advice’s published its annual parcels league table, and revealed that 13 million people had experienced issues with delivery for the last parcel they had ordered.

The problems that hounded carriers last year could easily happen again. And this is out of retailers’ control. However, they can mitigate the risk by choosing to work with a curated group of carriers instead of just one. The advantages are clear. It is unlikely all carriers will, for example, suffer a staff shortage at the same time. It enables a level of flexibility too if orders should suddenly spike or fall. 

Different carriers will also have different expertise. You could choose a regional carrier as well as a national company; or a carrier that has a strong reputation for sustainable practises. In Royal Mail’s latest Online Retailing Consumer Report, 41 percent of respondents stated that sustainable deliveries are worth paying more for. This rose to 60 percent amongst Gen Z shoppers. This is definitely an area worth paying attention to. A study revealed that that 85 percent of consumers have shifted toward more sustainable purchasing in the last five years. In the next five years, this figure will no doubt rise. 

Choosing to work with more than one carrier also gives you more negotiating power in your contracts; and more power if standards are not being met. These contracts must be run alongside meticulous data collection on every aspect of the delivery journey, including how effectively the delivery company communicates with the customer. Research revealed that 56 percent of D2C brands don’t provide a delivery forecast in the shopping cart and 54 percent of corporate brands don’t send status updates after shipping. Couple this with the statistic that 53 percent of consumers view the post-purchase stage as the most emotional part of their shopping journey. They see a lack of communication as personal. It makes them feel undervalued and ignored. 

How carriers handle returns is also key. Returns are an area so many retailers fall down in. A hassle-free returns process is not an added-extra but a necessity. Indeed, 92 percent of customers are influenced by brands’ return policies, our study found. The returns process needs to be handled carefully, not least because it is a chance to continue engagement with the customer. 

Using trusted carriers, collecting data and maintaining attention to detail in customer services will ensure that any issues in the delivery process are headed off with minimum impact on customers. After all, you want your customers to come back again and again; and to spread the word about your level of service. 

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