Matthew Robertson, Co-CEO NetDespatch, takes a look back at the Christmas period, the January delivery blues, typically a time for returns, and crucially Matthew asks what consumers really want from retailers and deliveries:
More than half of online shoppers in the UK suffered the inconvenience of a failed or late delivery last Christmas, according to consumer watchdog Which magazine. Fifty-four per cent of shoppers experienced problems, from parcels left in the rain to dishonest ‘attempts to deliver’. I’ve yet to read how parcel delivery fared this year but hopefully more got it right than wrong and fewer folks are starting the year with January delivery blues.
What was interesting was how well the budget retailers did over the Christmas period. In particular, Lidl and Aldi enjoyed the best sales despite other UK supermarkets seeing slow growth. To this point Lidl Christmas sales were up by 10.3 per cent from last year and Aldi 5.9 per cent, however year-on-year sales at Sainsbury’s fell by 0.7 per cent, Tesco’s by 1.5 per cent and Asda and Morrisons’ sales fell by 2.2 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.
The 23rd of December was reported to be the single busiest shopping day of 2019 – and the largest shopping day ever recorded for supermarkets. That said the average household spending over the 12 weeks to 29th December 2019 fell by £8 to £1,055, while total volume sales fell by 0.7 per cent. Other retail outlets didn’t seem to do so well.
What we have seen over the past few years is that digitally connected consumers, looking for lower prices, greater convenience and a seamless experience when buying, receiving and returning products, are forcing parcel delivery companies and carriers to rethink traditional parcel delivery. The whole process has become completely automated in the last few years and same day and next day are currently considered the norm, as well as providing multiple delivery location options. Recent research undertaken by Accenture in the last quarter of 2019 identified more than a dozen trends impacting parcel delivery services, from massively reduced mail volumes to new products and innovations in parcel delivery products, services and supply chains. This is an industry that is still projected to grow 9 per cent annually to more than $343 billion globally in 2020, but carriers around the world continue to face significant revenue challenges.
What we found in our own research, entitled: UK Delivery Report, which we also conducted in the last quarter of 2019 is that when it comes to delivery, speed isn’t necessarily the driver. In fact, when we asked our respondents how important delivery speed was, only 3% said that they wanted same day delivery. Think about that for a moment – just 3%! Almost two thirds (62%) said that a 2 to 5-day delivery window is acceptable (usually ok) and almost a third (29%) said next day delivery is usually enough.
Respondents were given the choice to select all the options they preferred when ordering goods to their home and 82% of surveyed respondents preferred goods to be delivered to their home address. 25% said a specified safe place is their preferred delivery option whilst 24% preferred items delivered to their neighbour. We also asked respondents how important increased delivery options were and we found that almost half (48%) of respondents were not in favour of more self-service options. Parcel lockers (36%) in garage/in house (14%) and robot delivery vehicles (12%) were the most requested/frequently selected options. Whilst in-boot delivery was down at 7%.
What consumers seem to be looking for is the ability to anticipate delivery with an exact delivery window, 91% of respondents said this was either very or fairly important. Moreover, visibility on information such as receiving order confirmations (96% of respondents said this was either very or fairly important) and delivery confirmations (92% of respondents said this was either very or fairly important) are seen as two of the most important elements in a positive delivery experience.
As we move into 2020, our research results should serve as a lesson for retailers and carriers regarding how much they listen to the delivery desires of consumers. 41% of those surveyed said they ONLY order from suppliers that deliver using their preferred delivery options. At present it appears that suppliers aren’t taking heed as our survey shows that 52% of respondents said carriers did not fulfil their preferred option/s for missed home deliveries.
Delivery control is paramount, and consumers are demanding a better last mile service that keeps them in control of how, when and where their parcels are delivered.
This is combined with transparency around delivery timing. So, while many carriers are making a significant investment in speed, carriers and retailers should focus on giving consumers a range of delivery times (often at different price points) that provides flexibility.
If you are interested in reading the full report, you can download the UK Delivery Report here.