By James Middleton, Street Stream — Delivery problems have been the bane of the ecommerce market since people started selling online. You can have a website with amazing UX, superb customer service, and an efficient system to get product out of the warehouse, but if a customer has an issue with their delivery, they won’t be coming back.
Thirty-seven per cent of online shoppers said they would never use an online retailer again if they were dissatisfied with their delivery experience, according to research from Ecommerce Nation.
Most ecommerce businesses rely on outsourced courier services, removing the delivery process from their control. Yes, you can shop around for better service, but it’s often hard to tell one supplier from another. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, but by then the damage is done.
It’s not just bad execution that puts customers off; lack of delivery options is responsible for a fifth of abandoned baskets, according to research by Descartes.
In fact, delivery “is the number one reason people don't buy online” Chloë Thomas, of eCommerce MasterPlan, told Marketing Donut.
So, what can you, as an ecommerce business, do?
Gain control over your couriers
Much easier said than done, but bad delivery experiences are more commonly down to bad couriers than bad companies. Of course, companies should vet all of their couriers and monitor their performance to improve their service, but this isn’t always easily or effectively done.
The option that gives you the most control would be to bring delivery in-house, as Amazon have been moving towards for the last few years. As long as you can extend your swift fulfilment process to delivery logistics, you’ll have unparalleled control of your courier service. The problem for most businesses is the cost and complexity of meeting such a demand.
A relatively new option are courier services that use technology to offer you more control and flexibility. At Street Stream, we use app technology to connect ecommerce businesses directly to our fleet of vetted professional couriers. Our clients pick the couriers they want and then leave ratings and reviews, acting as a continual performance monitor.
Give control to your customers
One of the most common delivery complaints is having to wait around all day for a delivery – the classic “between 8am and 6pm” delivery slot that has driven us all mad at one point in time. The courier inevitably arrives just as you jump in the shower or pop to the shops.
To solve this problem, many courier services now offer text updates when packages reach certain checkpoints. Keeping the customer informed means they can plan their day, safe in the knowledge that their package will arrive in a specific window of time.
Next-day or even same-day delivery options are also being offered by more ecommerce sites, leading customers to expect their items even more rapidly. They leave it to the last minute to buy gifts or replace products, abandoning their basket when they realise the delivery won’t arrive in time.
The ideal solution is to offer your customers their choice of delivery day and 1-hour time window. Street Stream does this by connecting you to available couriers in London who can get to you in as little as half an hour. This, in turn, means we can deliver anywhere in London on the same day within a specific hour.
Other relatively new services include the taxi app Gett, which started to offer a £6 courier service through its on-demand London taxi service, and Stuart, a 1-hour courier service launched last September and backed by a French-owned business.
Amazon, of course, famously promised same day deliveries via drones and driverless vehicles, but even if they can make that sci-fi dream a reality, it will be years before it is widely available and financially viable for SMEs.
Identify the key issues
If you’re seeing your sales slump but your website, customer service and logistics seem to be working smoothly, it’s worth turning your attention to deliveries. Unfortunately, 96 per cent of customers won’t voice complaints, they just quietly go elsewhere.
Conducting surveys helps you find out directly from your customers what their issues are. You might be surprised what you discover!
Some common issues are:
• lack of specific delivery time-slots,
• goods being damaged during delivery.
Feeding the results of your research back to your courier service may be all it takes to effect a positive change. If not, it will help inform your choice of replacement courier service.
James Middleton is founder of Street Stream, a London-based on-demand courier service. A new tech startup, Street Stream is disrupting the same-day and on-demand delivery industry by allowing its clients to pick their own fleet of vetted couriers.
Street Stream is currently equity crowdfunding on Crowdcube
in order to grow UK-wide:
Since its last round of crowd funding in February 2016 - which closed in just 11 days - Street Stream has built its API and has facilitated more than 16,000 jobs so far.