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Last touch, Lasting impact

By Mike Hayers | Monday February 15 2021 | UPDATED 15.02.21

COVID-19 has made ecommerce more important than ever for retailers but how do you make sure your ecommerce delivery keeps pace with change? Mike Hayers, UK Country Manager, ShipStation, explains

Against the global backdrop of the pandemic, the Internet has become the shopping destination of choice for consumers, both because of its 24/7 availability and also out of necessity.

Despite this trend having had a positive overall impact on ecommerce sales, retailers and brands still need to keep abreast of shifting buyer behaviours. Consumers understand the challenges of stocking and delivering the goods they want, but their tolerance has a limit.

If ecommerce merchants want to stay ahead of the game, they cannot afford to become complacent. As part of this, delivery’s role in the customer journey has never been more important.

In our recent research of online shoppers living in the UK, a massive 84% said that as a final interaction with retailers delivery stands out most in the ecommerce customer experience. So much so in fact, 87% of consumers delivery said it would influence their decision to shop with the retailer again.

Retain loyalty

Clearly delivery is a powerful tool for converting one-time buyers into long-term customers. However, this comes with caveats.

Delivery expectations have shifted in the past year from five days on average to eight, and 83% of consumers expect shipping delays due to the pandemic. This is acceptable if retailers and brands keep the lines of communication open.

Amongst the online shoppers surveyed, 93% said they expect brands to proactively address potential shipping delays prior to checkout. And if mistakes do happen in the delivery process, 94% are likely to continue shopping with that brand in the future as long as they acknowledge and rectify the situation.

In fact, almost all consumers (98%) said fast and honest updates regarding a delivery issue will make them less likely to be upset or cause a lasting negative perception of the brand.

A successful delivery experience is not just about how long items take to arrive, and the study shows that while most consumers are more patient, 60% expect retailers to provide slower deliveries for free.

The pandemic has also not dented the desire for convenience. Our study shows a rise from 31% to 40% in the past year amongst those willing to pay for the greater convenience and speed of an express delivery service.

Returns concerns

The pandemic and its impact on the free movement of citizens has made the return of goods to stores more difficult, while expectations of online retailers have shifted.

Not only do 80% of consumers now consider the ease of returns more than they did pre-COVID, a massive 91% think merchants should offer a free returns option. At the same time, 90% expect the process to be self-service, requiring no contact with customer service.

What this study shows clearly is that while online shoppers still expect excellence and great value from their delivery experience, they can be flexible, as long as retailers are open and honest with them.

They are prepared to take control, and pay, if they want goods quickly. However, they will not be reticent about expressing their dissatisfaction if the service supplied isn’t up to scratch, and that includes not just abandoning baskets, but abandoning retailers too.

The key for retailers as they navigate the continuing choppy waters of e-commerce is to clearly communicate delivery costs and return policies.

The faster and more effectively they can set customer expectations, the more committed shoppers will be, and this gives online retailers an important competitive edge.


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