Today’s customers expect a seamless, personalised shopping experience that is consistent regardless of whether they are in-store or online and built to satisfy their individual requirements. The challenge that retailers face is to understand exactly what we as customers expect and how best to go about building an experience to match these expectations.
Zebra recently carried out a survey of shoppers throughout Europe to understand their attitudes and expectations towards the customer experience. The survey revealed a number of key trends which retailers need to consider, one of which concerned delivery.
Delivery convenience at an affordable price
As our day-to-day lives have become more and more technologically driven, customer demands have grown too. We are task-rich, time-poor but connected, making convenience a crucial factor when it comes to making and receiving a purchase.
It concerned me to see that just 25.8% of respondents are very satisfied with the speed of delivery, only 18.3% were very satisfied with the cost of delivery and 77.8% said a delivery window was extremely or somewhat important to them. On top of this, the results showed that customers want to know whether a product is available in advance and they want to have a choice of delivery location.
Customer demand for speed and affordability presents a dilemma to retailers. While it’s important that customer needs are met, retailers must ensure that the method they employ is sustainable. These methods could involve establishing an acceptable price point that customers are willing to pay for faster delivery, determining if there are certain product categories that could be made eligible for faster delivery or developing logistics models to allow for a speedier turnaround of deliveries.
New methods of purchase and delivery
In addition to wanting convenience, customers also like to have options. Retailers should be offering new methods of delivery to suit the various ways in which we prefer to receive orders.
The survey showed that respondents value a wide range of delivery options. 20% want the option to click and collect in-store, 55% want to have their products shipped to their home when purchasing online, 18% want to buy in-store but have their products shipped home and 20% want to buy on their mobile and have their products shipped home.
When I am making a purchase, I want a diverse range of options to be available to me each time I make a purchase. That way I can select the most convenient method depending on how quickly I need the product(s), what product(s) I am purchasing or how much flexibility I require when it comes to collection.
How retailers can simplify in-store order fulfilment
Many retailers who have adopted a variety of delivery methods are now realising that their logistics models are unable to support them. Free, next-day delivery for many retailers just isn’t workable. John Lewis began charging for deliveries under £30 in July last year, claiming that a free delivery service is unsustainable.
Meanwhile, online retailers are adopting fulfilment models that enable same-day or even one-hour delivery to customers. Following Amazon’s launch of Prime Now in London in June 2015, it’s now rolling out the service to other cities across the UK. Same-day delivery has become the new battleground for retailers competing to attract customers.
However, if traditional retailers can get in-store order fulfilment right, they will be able to continue to meet customer expectations and avoid increasing delivery charges. Investing in the right technology to do this is essential. Many retailers have implemented a patchwork of systems, which can lead to increased labour costs and more errors. Instead, retailers should invest in a consolidated, integrated system so that they can fulfil orders quickly, accurately and efficiently.
I would also recommend that retailers launch an in-store fulfilment process in just one or two stores to begin with and then gradually roll it out to others. That way you can test the system works, trial your new processes and develop effective training without it having a negative impact on your customers or staff.
To learn more about what retailers should be doing to meet customer expectations when it comes to convenient delivery, download the full European Shopper Survey here: