Retailers must speed-up deliveries in 2020 – or risk losing customers
Time is a currency that most of us are pretty poor in, so if there’s a way to speed up the essentials, we’re interested. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see Marketing Tech include delivery models in its key 2020 trends article.
It seems a lifetime ago that we were willing to listen to the dial-up tone while the internet connected, or patiently wait for web pages to load, line-by-line. Today’s always-on, instant gratification culture means consumers can browse, swipe and pay for items in a matter of seconds – and the speed and ease of the purchasing experience has had a knock-on impact on fulfilment expectations.
83% of consumers value convenience more today than they did five years ago, according to a new NRF report, with 66% paying for premium delivery services such as Amazon Prime in order to procure their purchases quicker. And, with the fulfilment battleground continuing to hot up, it’s the retailers who fail to keep pace with delivery demands in 2020 that will see their sales figures start to suffer…
For consumers, convenience is king
Consumers should be spoilt for choice when ordering an item online today, with options such as same-day delivery, next-day delivery, collect in-store and delivery to a local collection point to choose from. But theory can be very different from reality.
Look no further back than the festive period to see that retailers still have a lot of work ahead to optimise their delivery strategies. Which? research conducted ahead of Christmas 2019 found that more than half of online shoppers have experienced delivery issues during peak trading. Ironically, the most complained about issue was parcels arriving earlier than expected, but missed deliveries are just as big an inconvenience as late ones.
In order to solve problems like this, some retailers are looking at whether they can introduce targeted delivery slots – similar to online grocery orders. But achieving this doesn’t just mean finding the right carrier and optimising the last mile; it has much greater repercussions for operational efficiency and stock availability.
Repairing retailers' Achilles heel
The beating heart of fast fulfilment isn’t getting goods from the warehouse to the customer as quickly as possible – it’s having those items available and accessible in the first place. Even the most reliable courier service can only be dispatched once an order has been picked and packed, and stock management is the Achilles heel of many retailers’ delivery models.
Getting goods to the customer as quickly as possible starts with being able to find the closest or most convenient location of that item, without cannibalising sales in other channels. The only way to achieve this is through complete stock visibility, with an accurate, real-time view of what’s available versus what has already been allocated.
Leading retailers realise that they need flexible multi-channel software to achieve this holistic view, so they can leverage stock availability anywhere in the business, without negatively impacting in-channel fulfilment. The sales model of most retail businesses is increasingly complex, with organisations having to balance fulfilment in marketplace and affiliate channels with ecommerce orders and in-store stock – the latter of which is required for click & collect orders and ship from store commands, as well as direct sales.
Managing this demanding environment relies on not only having the right technology platform, but also working with expert partners who can deliver insight and advice to support effective decision making.
Consumers are only going to want quicker, more convenient delivery in 2020 and beyond, so even retailers leading this area can’t afford to rest on their laurels. And while operational technology requires up-front investment, the pay-off for resourcing this part of the business is huge.
Rapid delivery is a critical customer experience benchmark, and organisations that get items swiftly and carefully to consumers will benefit from improved retention and increased loyalty. According to Metapack data, 61% of people believe a positive delivery experience incentivises them to shop with an ecommerce retailer again – and delivering that experience starts in the stock room.
With every retailer striving for the same rapid delivery standards, what will separate the leaders from the followers this year is retailers’ choice of technology partner for ensuring complete inventory visibility. Software is only as good as the people who deliver it, and therefore organisations must find the best-in-class for their business requirements, in order to keep their time-poor customers happy.
Jason Colbridge is a retail expert at Sanderson multi-channel retail solutions.
Sanderson multi-channel software enables retailers to utilise all stock across your business for flexible fulfilment and delivery options. Learn more about our software for retailers to see how we can give your business one version of the truth.