online shoppingThe emergence of online shopping sites like Amazon has created a delivery revolution, with retailers often promising incredibly short delivery times. As a result, many customers now see these fast turnaround times as the norm, which can place a great deal of stress on retailers, as well as delivery companies.

If anything, competition in the retail sector is getting tougher, which means that it has never been more important for retailers to manage their customers’ expectations when it comes to home delivery. The ability to order a product online and have it shipped to the shopper’s home address quickly and securely is now a fundamental part of the customer experience. As a result, retailers are increasingly looking to their logistics partners to ensure that this service is both consistent and reliable.

Most delivery firms are able to meet their promises in this regard, but at peak times of the year, a lack of preparation and thinly stretched resources can make this challenge more difficult. For example, many retailers advertise shortened home delivery times during holiday periods to attract more business, sometimes advertising ‘12 hour delivery’. Short turnaround times like these may well be possible, but not without a fair amount of discussion and pre-planning beforehand.

With Christmas just around the corner, additional strategies must be put in place to ensure that customers will be fully satisfied in the run-up to the holiday season. These plans need to start from the moment customers place their order and carry through until the delivery reaches the doorstep, and must also consider special promotions and one-off ‘flash sales’.

In order for these strategies to work, logistics providers will need to work closely with their retail partners to agree what is possible. For example, delivery companies will need to check that retailers are advertising realistic delivery details, and both sides will need to be sure that the courier has the time and capacity to fulfil any promises that the retailer has made.

After all, mistakes in this area are likely to cause problems for all concerned; customers will feel frustrated and angry by a failed home delivery, and retailers and couriers risk damaging their reputation and relationship as a result. It is therefore vital that the retailer provides details of the exact time and place that items are to be delivered – including any special delivery instructions. Retailers should also leverage the many delivery options, such as Click & Collect and delivery promotions, to ensure delivery promises are realistic whilst satisfying different customer requirements and maximising convenience. Peak trade periods like Black Friday also require this high level of instruction and consultation between the supply chain and retailers to prevent inconveniences as much as possible. For its part, the logistics company needs to be ready, willing and able to alert the retailer of any unexpected problems it encounters, so the customer can be kept informed throughout.

In order to achieve this goal, logistics companies need to keep the lines of communication open – not just at Christmas, but throughout the entire year. Above all else, both sides need to have an all-encompassing, jointly agreed plan to ensure a robust, reliable and consistent system for home delivery. Only by working together can both sides ensure that items are delivered safely, accurately and on time, so that customers across the country receive the service they expect and demand.

 

[Source: James Timberlake, Head of Marketing at DX]

By Alison