We’ve all seen the headline “Retail is Dead,” but in reality, only mediocrity is dead. As retail guru Steve Dennis recently pointed out, there are success stories on either side of the retail spectrum, from luxury brands to cost savers.
While retailers move through brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, “digital first” and omnichannel strategies, consumers are demanding a seamless, personalized shopping experience. Retailer success lies in creating a memorable customer journey while still maintaining the bottom line.
As a key touchpoint in the brand experience, delivery needs to be tailored to the image a retailer wants to cultivate. From cart to door, shoppers expect retailers to take full responsibility for the delivery experience. New data shows they currently are not happy with what retailers are offering.
In a recent Convey survey of 1,500 consumers, almost 60 percent said they were dissatisfied with the delivery experience. Blame it on Amazon Prime, consumers now expect fast, low-cost delivery — and with every mediocre or poor delivery experience, retailers pay the price in product returns, customer service utilization and lost customers.
While shoppers want retailers to take responsibility, they understand every delivery cannot be perfect. Free and fast shipping are important, but promise-by dates and the way a retailer handles ongoing issues are equally critical.
With so many options for shoppers, retailers need to provide a differentiated and engaging experience, including proactive communication, commitment around delivery dates, and control over shipping options, all of which get amplified over the holidays.
Shoppers know delivery issues are bound to happen, but they expect to be kept in the loop. Almost all survey respondents want retailers to communicate when there’s a shipping issue, with nearly half expecting to be notified immediately when an exception occurs, preferably through email.
Commitment to Delivery Dates
Shoppers want retailers to commit to shipment timing, especially as it relates to delays and date changes. Over 95 percent expect retailers to proactively respond if a carrier’s estimated delivery date changes, and over 90 percent expect some form of action or compensation for missed promise-by dates.
These expectations are even higher during the holidays, with shoppers more likely to expect shipping refunds for missed promise dates. By anticipating delivery exceptions, agile retailers can expedite new shipments in response to late ones — and impress shoppers in the process.
Control Over Shipping Options and Shipping Resolution
Consumers prioritize shopping with retailers that provide better shipping options and resolutions. While those finishing their shopping before Black Friday value low shipping costs, those racing to get presents under the tree prioritize same-day delivery over any other delivery factor — and are more likely to shop with retailers that offer that option. Almost all shoppers in our survey also wanted to interact with the retailer directly to resolve their delivery issues, rather than brave a carrier’s 1-800 number.
How a retailer fixes an issue is just as important as what the issue is. While a negative delivery experience can be the last thing a customer remembers, retailers that anticipate exceptions and own them will win big in customer loyalty.
Rob Taylor is the CEO of Convey, an active delivery management software for intelligent issue detection, collaborative case resolution, and supply chain optimization.
This article was featured in My Total Retail on February 9th, 2017. Read more here.