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5 ways to improve the online shopping delivery experience
Woman making an online purchase

  • Expanding the customer experience

    With over 26 million eCommerce sites globally and new ones popping up daily, it’s hardly a wonder that brands are finding it more challenging than ever to attract customers and increase conversions. So when you do acquire a new customer, it is essential that what they experience with your brand is best in class, every step of the way. Unfortunately sometimes retailers prioritise, and with good reason, the journey from landing on your site or app to when the shopper enters their payment details. However, for the customer, while this is an important part of the transaction, the real centre is the moment of delivery. 

    In Why the “last mile” matters most to your customers, we explained further why the doorstep has become such a critical character in the story of an online purchase. However, as is often the case, the real challenge is not a lack of awareness about the changes needed but how to make the change. The problem is where to begin when it feels overwhelming, and there is always the risk that the outcomes don’t match the expected ones. Retailers are already facing a challenging year ahead with rising labour and business, so adding another layer, which will involve implementing new digital solutions and, consequently, budget, is not without its challenges.  

    But there is some good news. 

    Our 2024 Digital Pulse report, The last mile: the role of digital innovation in reshaping the delivery experience, found many ways to transform the online shopping experience. Changes that will both improve the way shoppers receive their purchases and, importantly, build customer loyalty and foster repeat purchases. It is this outcome that perhaps the most significant opportunity lies. I will return to the same retailer if I enjoy our interaction and, more importantly, feel valued by the brand. And if that develops into discounts or other special offers, I will forget about the competition and focus on building a mutually beneficial relationship. 

  • Where to begin transforming the delivery experience?

    First, get your copy of our report, which is based on research we did in 2023. We surveyed 2,000 respondents across the UK and Ireland about their delivery experiences. In addition, earlier in the year, we surveyed 600+ people across the UK about the online buying journey.

    Here are our top tips to give you a taste of what you can expect.

Delivery man updating shipping status
  • #1 Improve your communication

    There’s a considerable difference between anxiously waiting for news of your parcel, perhaps hovering by the front door, and benefiting from clear, proactive communication that actively manages customer expectations. Our research is clear: customers want to know where their parcel is and exactly when they can expect it.

    • 36% want tracking after the order has been shipped, 
    • 26% want tracking from before even completing the purchase 
    • 19% want it at every stage of the purchase cycle.

    Implementing real-time tracking and offering regular updates gives customers a sense of control and partnership, avoiding the frustration and disappointment that often accompanies feelings of powerlessness. 

  • #2 Offer customers more choices

    The more involved customers are in crafting their delivery experience, the more satisfied they will likely be. Our research shows customers crave customisation.  

    • 39% want to select the time and date of their delivery, 
    • 37% want to pick a time slot, 
    • 36% want to select a specific delivery time range 
    • 30% want the option of weekend deliveries. 

    In addition, 45% said they are willing to pay for the peace of mind of next-day delivery, and 22% are happy to pay to select a specific time slot. This means offering increased choice doesn’t need to mean shouldering additional costs.

Delivery man handing over package to recipient
  • #3 Focus your efforts where they matter most

    Anxiety about receiving parcels safely was common among our research respondents. Unsurprisingly, 66% of UK respondents wanted the delivery person to ring the bell and hand their parcel to them, with nearly a third wanting to sign for it as well. Despite the pressure of busy routes, it’s well worth implementing options for delivery drivers to hand parcels directly to residents alongside customisable alternatives such as providing special instructions, choosing a specific delivery spot, or requesting a signature on delivery.

  • #4 Increase visibility around sustainability

    Our research indicates customers see sustainability as a "nice to have" rather than an imperative, especially if they're expected to shoulder the costs. One respondent commented: "​​If there's a sustainable option that is not super expensive, I'll take it. If there's something local, I'll take it. But it doesn't have to impact me badly financially." Consider improving the visibility of your sustainability initiatives through interactive widgets that give customers the choice of how much to engage, such as introducing a carbon calculator at checkout so consumers can calculate the footprint of their delivery, with the option to pay to offset emissions for environmentally conscious consumers.

Delivery driver delivering packages
  • #5 Reward loyal customers. Compensate disappointed customers.

    Our research showed that the choice of delivery company has a real impact on customers, with 44% of UK shoppers saying that being able to pick the delivery company themselves would positively impact their decision to purchase. This presents a massive opportunity for delivery companies to become customers’ couriers of choice. Distinguish yourself by rewarding repeat customers with loyalty points or incentives to keep using your delivery service, or try rewarding customers with spot prizes for waiting. Similarly, retailers and delivery companies may wish to build goodwill and brand differentiation by compensating customers with a small gift or free credit if a delivery is missed. Be creative and stand out from the competition. 

    This is just a small selection of the many takeaways and recommendations we make in our report, which draws on the feedback of over 2,600 consumers across the UK and Ireland.

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Want to see our research in action?

Get your copy of The last mile: the role of digital innovation in reshaping the delivery experience.