Retailers and their delivery partners are having to work harder than ever to improve the delivery experience for the consumer. According to research from Accenture 42% of UK consumers under the age of 37 say that same day or next day delivery is very important to them. Ultimately the growth of online retail has been matched with the growth of consumer expectations and failure to get the delivery solution right can have damaging repercussions for the retailer, with consumers’ just one click away from going to a competitor.
 eDelivery, “Opinion: How delivery times are faring”, http://edelivery.net/2017/02/opinion-delivery-times-faring/, 2 February 2017
So with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, what are the five qualities a retailer expects from their delivery partner for a harmonious and lasting relationship?
- A good listener…
When it comes to delivery convenience, the consumer should never play second fiddle. Convenience is a core part of good customer service. In the past, offering a sole standard delivery service may have been sufficient but today’s consumers expect to receive their goods in more ways than ever before. For example, parcel collection shops are now a common sight across major railway stations in the UK and the trend towards deliveries to collection points is increasing in other countries too as consumers opt for greater control on when they can receive their parcels. A delivery partner that listens to the consumer by tailoring the appropriate delivery solution is an essential first step towards a seamless delivery experience.
- Sticking to dates…
Not only do consumers want the option of how they receive their goods but crucially when they receive their goods too. Research shows that 59% of consumers would not shop with a retailer again if they failed to deliver on time. Effectively consumers don’t like delayed or unsuccessful deliveries – the eCommerce equivalent of being “stood-up”. With trackable delivery the timing of each stage in the delivery process is recorded enabling the item to be traced at any point from despatch to door or collection point. In this way, any processing delays can be easily identified and dealt with.
- Being prepared for rebounds…
For every item that is successfully delivered to a consumer there is always the potential risk of returns. A delivery partner that fails to acknowledge returns can have damaging repercussions for the retailer. Research by Harris Interactive shows that 85% of consumers say they will stop buying from a retailer if the returns process is a hassle and, conversely, 95% will return to the same catalogue or internet retailer if the process is convenient. A good delivery partner will have a returns system that is easy to implement. This involves being scaleable so that as the retailer‘s business grows the system can keep pace with increased traffic.
- A natural communicator…
With social media, consumers are just one click away from giving retailers a very public dressing down should delivery standards not meet their expectations. This can have huge reputational knock-on effects. Our research shows almost a quarter (23.5%) of respondents said that they had already used social media to complain about delivery services. To minimise these unwanted outcomes it is critical the delivery partner can respond to consumer queries on social media, should they arise, and brief them through any delivery processes.
The growth of ecommerce has given online retailers a clear opportunity to expand globally, but doing so successfully requires planning and research. However, with this larger audience comes a greater demand for delivery flexibility since consumers in different territories can have vastly different expectations. An experienced delivery partner will have will have the necessary cross-border regulatory knowledge, carrier contacts and expertise of the markets and demographics that a retailer is looking to target, providing them with the most effective route in.
A love that lasts?
Today’s retailers face a range of challenges from handling online returns to understanding the complexities of international markets. Therefore retailers are looking for a range of qualities from their delivery partner to successfully navigate these complexities. Crucially, an overarching theme that links each quality is the consumer. Understanding the consumer and tailoring delivery solutions to their particular requirements is the essential secret to a successful relationship between a retailer and their delivery partner.
Paul Galpin, Managing Director
 eConsultancy, “What can retailers do to improve online delivery”, https://econsultancy.com/blog/61816-what-can-retailers-do-to-improve-online-delivery/ 9 January 2013