Today Radial, the omni-channel technology solutions company, releases its annual eDelivery Index 2017, highlighting the hidden customer service failings of retailers across the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain.
In the Age of Immediacy, where a taxi can be ordered in minutes, movies streamed in seconds and consumers can receive goods on next or same day delivery – consumer expectation is high. Despite this, the research has revealed that on average only half of retailers offer an express delivery option, whilst a paltry 6% offer same day delivery.
Demand for now
Given this Demand for Now, the research reveals that when it comes to delivery and returns consumer convenience is a top priority. In terms of delivery choices, many retailers have caught on to the advantages of offering flexible options, with 2.7 options available on average – while the UK firmly leads the way with 4.4 delivery options.
However, charges on any of these options will soon be a deterrent to today’s entitled customer – with findings that 79% of retailers now offer free standard home delivery, and 95% offer free Click & Collect as an alternative to paid postal service.
Missed opportunity with click & collect
Click & Collect remains popular across all countries with 95% of retailers offering the service, as it not only provides accessibility for the customer but also enables retailers to benefit from the additional footfall of driving customers to stores. Yet despite the obvious cost and flexibility advantages, few retailers are utilising in-store stock to service consumer orders – as indicated by the closely matching local average speeds of Standard home delivery with 3.1 days and Click & Collect with 3.2 days.
Utilising this in-store stock will not only cater to the immediacy that many customers desire, but would also drive significant cost reductions in serving such orders.
The evolution of click & collect
As an alternative trend, the research shows that delivery options now extend beyond Click & Collect, with on average 34% of retailers also offering convenience stores. This is a serious competitor issue for non-local retailers with 70% failing to provide this option.
Ben Willis, managing director International at Radial, comments: “This research shows that for European retailers today, a ubiquitous omnichannel offering is simply not the reality. These findings are a proof point that today’s retailers need to reassess their customer experience strategy to look at the bigger picture.
The ubiquity of online and mobile commerce means that brand competition has reached previously unimaginable levels and is threatening to destroy customer loyalty altogether. The likes of Amazon have created consumer expectation for a whole new level of customer experience – and this needs to be considered when it comes to delivery and returns. For retailers to deliver a true omnichannel experience they need to consider how they engage with customers beyond the point of purchase, prioritise delivery and returns that meets the needs for customers – ensuring repeat business.”
Lastly, a much-underestimated aspect of the customer journey is consumer convenience and costliness of returns. Research shows, brands offer a satisfactory selection of on average 1.9 return options; however, they are lacking in offering in-store return options. With only 52% of retailers providing this free avenue to consumers, the research suggests that retailers are placing immediate profits above long-term revenue. The in-store return method offers a significant opportunity to cut down the cost of returns by promoting exchanges and refunds and assimilating in-store returns directly into store inventory.