5 tips for better eCommerce deliveries

With delivery an increasingly important battleground for eCommerce companies we look at how you can stay one step ahead.

17 May 2017
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Jon Eaton

Earlier this year I was interested to read that eCommerce companies are seeing delivery as a key battleground when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers.

We decided that it would be a good idea to write a blog covering off some of the common things we see people getting wrong. Hopefully this will help you to iron out some kinks in your own fulfilment models.

Always give delivery options


It’s always really frustrating when there is only one delivery option. It it’s a standard 5 working day delivery that might be annoying because I need the product now. If it’s a standard next day delivery I might not be in. 

For eCommerce businesses giving options isn’t always an easy thing to facilitate. The way that orders are picked and packed and the way that inventory is managed makes adding new delivery options a fundamental change to business process. But customers don’t care. If you don’t offer delivery options and your competitors do they will start to win on ease of purchase.

Validate addresses


There’s nothing worse than a failed delivery because the customer got their details wrong. It’s really embarrassing. 

As the eCommerce retailer you are between a rock and a hard place. Do I offer a gesture of goodwill and eliminate the profit on this transaction? Or do I tell the customer that unfortunately they are incapable of telling a website where they live and need to pay again.

The second of these options is financially better business but the reality is that customers normally get insulted. It’s illogical that they should blame you for their administrative error but they will. 

Validate addresses as far as possible. If you want to see a good example of it being done in action check out Travelzoo, Amazon and some of the other big retailers. It’s relatively simple postcode look-up stuff and dynamically helps to check that the user is giving the right information.

Only provide useful updates on delivery progress


This is a pet hate of mine and possibly not reflective of the wider public but why on earth do eCommerce businesses insist on telling about their entire distribution network as part of an ordering process?! 

Why would I care that it has gone from the central distribution depot in Watford to the regional headquarters in Wigan before being transferred to a sub branch in Leeds and then to a packaging centre in Derby before being dispatched from Warrington?

All you are telling me is that your carbon footprint is horrendous.

Clear information about when it is going to arrive will do me fine. Tell me when it is dipatched by all means but please don’t tell me anything that does not show clear progress. As a customer all I want to know is that it is on its way.

Make the delivery surprising in a nice way


For largely faceless transactions the opening of parcels and the interaction with packaging is one of the only bits of real connection that we have with the customer.

Over the past year or so I’ve received quite a few really delightful parcels. From personalised messages from friends to interesting marketing materials that tell me a bit more about what I’ve received there’s something nice about feeling special and valued. This is a far cry from the eBay packages I see arriving at Quba’s offices every morning which resemble selotaped sections of bin bags with names spelt wrong in scribbled handwriting.

Interaction with customers can be had when they open packaging. Don’t waste that opportunity.

Follow up to see if the experience was good


It’s only when you work in an office environment and see the volume of delivery people from various logistics company that you realise that their attention to customer care varies widly.

For example one of the delivery men who delivers parcels to our building refuses to enter our building. He is the only one out of the 10 or so companies we see regularly at our offices. We have to send someone downstairs to sign for the packages.

From the perspective of the eCommerce companies the delivery probably looks like it’s gone really well from a reporting perspective. The delivery was completed in time. But from the perspective of the customer receiving the package the experience isn’t great. They have been unnecessarily disrupted. 

Unless you ask customers about their delivery experiences in an open way you won’t know if the experience falls below expectations.