Between the coronavirus pandemic - which has increased retail deliveries by as much as 67 per cent - and the expected annual rise in online deliveries, e-retail competition is stiffer than ever before. But with business insights experts Maru/Matchbox stating that: “expanding delivery options on offer will be key in order to cater to different customer needs and requirements”, giving more choice to your customers could be a good way to get an edge over your competitors.
Whether you’re running a start-up company or a known brand, staying ahead of the curve in an era of near-instant deliveries may seem impossible. However, if implementing delivery changes could increase your conversion rate and encourage customer loyalty, it’s worth taking the time to reassess. In this blog, we look at delivery performance and provide tips on how to improve it to benefit both your business and customers.
How to measure delivery performance
Business insights experts Entrepreneurship in a Box claim that: “it’s the quality of the delivery service that makes the difference between a reputable ecommerce business and a shady one.” As such, analysing your delivery process and gauging whether improvements could be made is key to enhancing the service you provide and, more importantly, pleasing customers. However, there is far more to a successful delivery process than simply ensuring a customer receives a package. To check that your delivery service is fit for purpose you need to mitigate against the following:
- Goods arriving in damaged or otherwise poor condition
- Customers not receiving their orders
- Customers receiving the wrong products
- Negative feedback or complaints
To ensure the strongest possible performance from your delivery process, you need to identify metrics for measuring these factors. A different approach is likely to be needed for each of these areas. For instance, you might monitor customer feedback on social media and on sites such as Trustpilot, Yelp or Google My Business to enable you to identify and resolve negative feedback.
When it comes to the cost of delivery, meanwhile, you might use a formula. For this to work, simply combine the figures for driver cost, fuel cost and vehicle cost. Then, divide this figure by the total distance being travelled by the courier.
How to solve delivery problems
When a customer experiences an error with their delivery, not only is it likely to lead to unwanted cost through returns, refunds and a replacement product being provided, but it could also negatively impact the likelihood of a customer purchasing products from your online store in the future.
A report from Citizens Advice revealed the frequency of delivery problems, with more than one in five consumers having a package go missing and one in ten receiving a damaged product. Business efficiency experts Voxware highlighted the impact a poor delivery experience could have on customer retention, with 69 per cent of consumers in a study claiming that they’d be less likely to shop with a retailer if a past order wasn’t delivered within two days of the promised day.
But what kind of delivery problems might a customer face and how would you typically fix them?
If the item itself is damaged, the damage could have been caused at the warehouse prior to delivery. Or if the packaging is ripped, misshapen or wet, it may have been the result of poor transit or an inevitable outcome of the package being left in the rain outside the customer’s house.
Once you’ve established the point at which the problem occurred - whether it was caused at the warehouse or during the delivery stage - you can look to implement changes to prevent it from happening again.
Late or missing deliveries
The impact of late and missing deliveries on business shouldn’t be underestimated. These problems can result in reputational damage and a difficulty creating customer loyalty.
A late or missing delivery could be the result of delayed dispatch or a problem with the carrier. However, once you’ve found the cause, you can implement ways to remove it from being an issue in the future. If the problem does indeed lie with the carrier, it’s important that you rectify the problem. Alternatively, if the problem is caused by an issue with your processes, automation could help to make sure deliveries are sent out on time.
Negative experiences with carriers
If delivery time slots are inconvenient, the delivery company offers poor communication, or packages are left in inappropriate places, customers are likely to become frustrated and avoid buying from your business again.
By partnering with reputable carriers with good customer-centred policies, you should be able to avoid these problems.
How to improve delivery efficiency
An efficient delivery process is one of the reasons why customers leave positive reviews, choose your online retailer over competitors and return for future purchases. Technology specialists Review42 claim that 65 per cent of a retail company’s business will come from existing customers and 50 per cent of all customers are likely to consider directing their loyalty to another business within five years. With this in mind, it’s pivotal that online stores do their utmost to ensure that their delivery process is as seamless and effective as possible.
Here are some tips to consider when looking to improve the efficiency of your delivery process:
Through the use of automation, you stand to cut operation costs, reduce human error and significantly increase efficiency by making a wide range of tasks happen automatically.
According to global consultancy experts McKinsey & Company, businesses could save time by as much as 30 per cent through the use of automation. They also stated that 72 per cent of decision-makers in businesses said that using artificial intelligence would mean allowing humans to focus on more meaningful tasks.
Capitalise on delivery routes
Route optimisation is a concept that allows companies to get the most out of their carriers by effectively utilising the space in the vehicle, the driver’s availability and the route of their deliveries.
In some cases, you may be able to capitalise on a few opportunities to increase delivery efficiency. For example, if the carrier has a space in their vehicle and is going along a route where a delivery is being made, it would be worth adding this package to the courier’s route. Likewise, if a package is yet to be delivered and one driver has better availability than another, giving them the task of delivering the packaging will mean getting it to the customer sooner.
Enhance the customer experience
Whether you’re allowing customers to choose from a range of delivery options or giving them the ability to track their orders with messaging that aligns with your business’s image and tone of voice, providing a positive customer experience is key.
Customer service software company Zendesk conducted a study into the importance of a positive customer experience. In this study, the results suggested that 86 per cent of millennials alone are influenced by negative reviews when it comes to purchasing a product or service. It’s also possible that a negative review will travel further than a positive one. Research from global service provider Deloitte concluded that, on average, nine people are likely to mention a positive customer experience, whereas 16 people are likely to mention a negative one.
Form partnerships with reputable carriers
By creating and maintaining strong partnerships with good carriers, you can create a level of consistency throughout all of your company processes to establish the best possible service for your customers.
Open the floor to feedback
Nobody is as important as your customers, so if you truly want to improve the delivery processes in your company, listening to them directly will help to understand what it is they want and how you can reach these goals. You can do this in a number of ways - for example you might use surveys, emails, online forms, social media or a bespoke website that is designed for collecting feedback.
Additionally, you can look to make changes by gauging the opinions of your employees and carriers. If they have any suggestions that would improve your delivery process or the experience of your customers, they’re certainly worth taking on board.
Whenever an order is running late or a customer simply isn’t sure when their order will arrive, control is out of their hands, potentially leaving them frustrated. However, a proven way of giving them back a sense of control is by offering delivery tracking.
Logistics technology company Dropoff ran a poll on the use of delivery tracking where 85 per cent of consumers claimed they’d make repeat purchases from the same online retailer if they could track their purchase throughout the delivery process.
Siid offers a comprehensive order and delivery management platform that can help you to organise your delivery process, save time and reduce manual error. To find out more, explore our service pages or get in touch with us directly.