A post we published earlier this week raised a ton of issues to do with delivery, not just on eBay but on any marketplace or ecommerce site. Whilst it was a bit of a disaster, what the post has done is highlight the service an online retailer can offer and how this compares with buyer behaviour and what can go wrong.
So firstly, having been back and done a thorough debrief and spoken to the retailer we can confirm that they did everything as you’d expect, shipping the product to the address they were given and triggering a confirmation email through their multichannel management software.
The first issue that arose is an interesting one – the address. You’d think that addresses would be fairly simple things to get right but it appears that’s not the case. People sometimes use different variations of address format and, in general if they continue to get mail over months and years, they consider their version to be right. Putting the Post Code into Royal Mail’s address finder tells a different story however and gives the version of the address that Royal Mail consider correct. One thing that we’ve mentioned in the past is how fantastic it would be if all marketplaces verified addresses against Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF®). In the instance in question, it appears that Royal Mail had enough of the address to deliver.
There was another red herring, it appears that it’s quite easy to confuse which parcels you’ve ordered to go to home and which you may have used your office shipping address for. In this case investigations reveal that the delivery was destined for a home address, not the work address as first thought. Delivery to home when the recipient at work is never going to be a graceful solution, which is probably why the parcel was eventually delivered on a Saturday.
Finally, to complicate the issue, flats are notoriously difficult addresses to deliver to and Royal Mail themselves have highlighted this issue in the past.
What do you considered ‘Delivered’?
It would appear that consumer expectations of a delivery are markedly different to those who are sellers. As sellers we recognise our limitations that once we’ve shipped an item it’s out of our hands and, especially if we provide tracking numbers that the consumer should be on the look out for their parcel and make a modicum of effort to retrieve it.
Buyers don’t always (as we well know) get ‘While you were out’ cards. Sometimes it’s claimed that they weren’t left by the carrier and at other times they may get bundled up with someone else’s mail – especially in multiple occupancy residences and flats or apartment blocks. Often, if the buyer hasn’t supplied a mobile number for SMS notifications they may not notice emails or they can end up in spam.
Amazingly it turns out that, having made a purchase, there are buyers out there that simply wouldn’t chase the retailer if an item doesn’t arrive. Some it would appear, simply expect parcels to arrive.
What have we learnt?
Admitting that incorrect information was given, there still are many interesting points raised – address verification, tracking, carding, the possibility of designated safe places (which some sites do support) and what the customer considers delivered vs what a sellers’ view is. The debate over how much responsibility is down to the seller and when the customer really needs to step up will doubtless go on for some time.