17th June 2020
If a company decides to use a single carrier for all their deliveries they’re then 100% reliant on that delivery partner being able to fulfil everything they promised. In this piece I elaborate on why it is important for retailers to have different delivery options available for their customers.
Freedom of Choice
The most obvious argument for offering different delivery options is that it gives customers the option to choose. Personally, I usually choose the cheapest option as it’s rare that I need something the same day. If I buy something expensive, I try to collect from store as I don’t want my item going missing or getting damaged. However, some people need a last-minute outfit, or simply wish to avoid the genuine horror of entering a retail park on a Saturday.
A retailer needs to offer several different options for delivery and returns to be able to meet each request of their customers’ and if they don’t, someone else just might.
Some retailers may make the case that it makes sense to stick with as few carriers as possible in order to achieve a volume-based discount from the carrier. Although this can be a great way to save money, it overlooks some key points.
Firstly, this assumes that a retailer won’t increase sales or gain repeat customers by offering different delivery options. Secondly, if the retailer can find a system to monitor a carrier’s performance, there’s no reason why they can’t have a variety of delivery options and carriers on a good rate as they can shift deliveries easily from a poorly performing carrier to a new one seamlessly. Doing so would not only keep a carrier on their toes, but if they do start to slip, a retailer could use the data to drive better rates with the carrier directly. Lastly, if the retailer doesn’t have different options, what can they do when their carrier begins to perform poorly? Of course, they can switch carrier, but this means negotiating rates with the new carrier when they’re desperate, never a good place to start in any negotiation. Also, there is the impact on a retailer’s back-end systems. Integration to a new carrier is usually undertaken at the last minute resulting in a complex booking platform for warehouse staff to get a label at the right time and place in the warehouse, and deliveries potentially being missed.
These issues would be mitigated by having several different carrier options in place utilising several services, along with finding a system to manage them.
Using Deliveries and Returns as a Competitive Advantage
The uptake of same-day delivery services by retailers has been huge, and recent studies show that up to 49% of shoppers say that same-day delivery makes them more likely to shop online. Same-day delivery was ground breaking some years ago and demonstrates that if you are at the forefront of new delivery options, you can really drive sales as a retailer.
More recently other retailers have recognized that specific delivery slots and returns are the new frontier in regard to online orders. As the options for deliveries seem so varied already, there is simply not many options left to get a competitive edge as a retailer, therefore returns seem like the obvious option to start perfecting. Using different returns options could mean a customer can now return the item to the retailer’s physical store, to a local shop, to the post office, locker boxes and so on. Many retailers now offer free returns, but whether this remains viable for many businesses it yet to be seen. However, the fact that some retailers are absorbing the cost of their returns demonstrates that shipping costs aren’t the priority for them, sales and a loyal customer base are, and the way to do this is through offering different options on deliveries and returns.
If a retailer has decided to use one carrier for all deliveries and the carrier has an issue that can’t be resolved that day, the retailer is going to be the one who suffers, along with their customer. There is also a good chance of the customer deciding not to use that retailer again, and of that customer leaving them a bad review potentially costing the retailer more customers. If the retailer used different delivery options this allows them a fighting chance to get their deliveries out that day using a different carrier.
In conclusion, when it comes to different delivery options, as with life, variety is key. There is also always the right carrier service to go along with what a retailer is sending to their customers. What might be perfect for one retailer doesn’t necessarily fit with another. It is important to note that customers seek only a few things regarding deliveries of online orders; convenience, speed, reliability, cost¦there are just so many ways to achieve these requests.
Text by: Robert Fuller, Business Development Coordinator, Consignor