RL Magazine
Are You Delivering? UK Consumer Attitudes Towards Online Shopping Delivery Standards
by Paul Galpin, P2P

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Online shopping in the UK is well established and growing. A recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that nearly £1 in every £10 is now spent on goods bought online.1 According to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, British online shoppers spent £68bn online in 2011, 16% more than the year before. The same report predicts a further 13% growth in 2012 and estimates that some £77bn will be spent online during the course of the year. The ongoing challenge for online retailers and those High Street brands with an online presence is to ensure that they are taking a growing share of this healthy online market.

This report forms part two of a study into UK online shopping habits, specifically looking at order fulfillment in a bid to understand its importance within the overall online service offering. The first report ‘Setting the Standard’ – published in July 2011 – revealed UK consumer attitudes towards standard and premium shipping options. The report found that the assumption that next-day delivery and other premium shipping options gives online retailers a competitive advantage is, in fact, false.

Part two – ‘Are you Delivering?’ – looks at attitudes towards the physical delivery of goods. What level are current standards of delivery at? How important is a troublefree delivery service to repeat business? And if delivery goes wrong, what are the consequences for online businesses? Answers to these questions and more provide UK businesses with evidence of the importance of robust and efficient delivery, guiding development strategy and providing a performance barometer with which to assess their own delivery standards.

RESULTS

The importance of problem-free order delivery is clearly emphasised in the survey results. If mistakes and delays happen, the outcome is clear.

Nearly 90% (87%) of consumers would switch to another supplier if they experienced delivery problems twice or more. The Internet age, more than ever before, has placed power in the hands of the consumer. Switching suppliers can be as easy as a click of the mouse. Here is firm evidence that, no matter how compelling the product, failure to deliver it as promised will drive business away.

This finding is reinforced in the response to the next statement. Consumers were asked to agree or disagree with the following:

Almost two-thirds of consumers consider poor delivery standards to be the worst thing that can go wrong with online shopping. The very process of buying online requires the consumer to display a great deal more trust in the retailer than is necessary when shopping on the High St. In an online transaction, the money is exchanged before the goods are in hand. To break that trust with flawed delivery is regarded as totally unacceptable.

Conversely, managing delivery performance well – as part of the total online shopping experience – can encourage greater spend. The challenge for online retailers is to achieve this end-to-end service consistency. Great care and attention is given to the look and feel of a website – the more visual element of the online shopping experience. The same level of care and attention – of pride in the brand – must also be applied to the ‘hidden’ fulfillment operation. An appealing, intuitive first impression may attract custom, but it is robust and failsafe order fulfillment that will encourage customers to return.

Unfortunately, current standards fall some way short of this ideal.

Almost a quarter (21%) of consumers report that more than one in ten of their online shopping experiences are let down by something going wrong. As previous results show, those companies getting it consistently wrong will quickly feel the sting of consumer defection. There can be no excuse. Expertise and technology exists – at every budgetary level – to automate order fulfillment and to drive efficiency and value throughout the delivery chain.

Another interesting issue emerges from the findings. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of consumers are reluctant to purchase goods from overseas shopping websites.

Clearly, consumers feel that any problems with delivery and service are exacerbated if the retail company is situated abroad. This presents a real challenge for businesses wishing to expand their sales footprint and only consistent service and fulfillment excellence will assuage any doubts.

Those getting it right can certainly steal a march on competitors. If international delivery is an option, businesses must clearly state their delivery terms and ensure the processes are in place to meet expectations. Customer testimonials can help, short quotes from satisfied consumers that help to dispel any doubts and concerns from potential new customers.

TIME TO DELIVER

The survey results could not be clearer. Get online shopping delivery wrong, and your business will suffer as a result. Just two mistakes can be enough to persuade a customer to defect to a competitor.

These errors are not happening in isolation. Nearly a quarter of the UK’s online shopping population experience online shopping problems over ten percent of the time.

The most savvy businesses are seeking the advice of expert providers who have the knowledge and the technology to manage the entire order processing and delivery function. The benefits of developing an intuitive and problem-free end-to-end online shopping experience are evident – 87% of consumers will increase the amount of online purchasing they do if the experience is consistently good.

Online shopping is set for continued, healthy growth in the UK. It is those businesses that pay attention to the ‘hidden’ function of order processing and delivery that stand to benefit most from this still buoyant market. Those slow to address delivery standards will quickly lose out.

Paul Galpin has worked within the Express and Mail industry for over 16 years holding senior management roles for the last 10 years. Having gained experience working for various companies, in Jan 2009 Paul played a key part in the establishment of P2P Mailing and assumed the role of Managing Director. A Third Party Logistics solutions provider, P2P has quickly developed a significant presence and enviable reputation for providing innovative and flexible solutions to the E-commerce sector with revenues in excess of £11m and projected growth in excess of 50%, forging successful partnerships that include many large Mail Order businesses.

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