Buying online for home delivery: UK consumers have never had it so good, but the pressure is on retailers to juggle multiple services, Centiro warns

UK consumers have never had it so good when it comes to home delivery, but the pressure is on retailers to juggle multiple delivery services to guarantee success at Christmas, according to delivery management expert Centiro.

From using cycles, motorbikes, drones, robots and even London buses to deliver items, through to one-hour delivery slots and lockers where items can be dropped off, the range of delivery and fulfilment options has increased dramatically over the past year. The UK market is leading the way, with consumers growing to expect delivery within a much shorter timescale here than in other markets around the world. This means retailers in particular must take a step back to ensure they are confident in their ability to seamlessly fulfil orders through every single channel they offer.

With UK online Black Friday 2017 sales hitting £1.39 billion, up 11.7 per cent on last year, we look all set for a similar increase in spending across the rest of the Christmas period. However, problems with deliveries at this time could do serious long-term damage to retailers. In fact, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of UK online shoppers told YouGov last Christmas that they would switch to an alternative retailer because of a poor Christmas home delivery experience. Put simply, this means retailers must find a way to continually deliver through an evolving set of delivery options to a consistently high standard.

"Online shoppers in the UK have never had it so good when it comes to the variety of delivery options available to them. Consumer expectations could rocket past current levels if the market continues its shift to provide innovative delivery services that are available in the UK as well increasingly granular detail to consumers, such as delivery driver name, location and exact time of arrival. This means the successful retailer of the future will be the ones that continue to focus on customer service, with a seamless customer experience across all the delivery services they offer. In Christmas party terms, they have invited the guests, but must get to work wrapping the presents, cooking the dinner and laying the table," said Bobby Shome, Business Development Director EMEA, Centiro.

"People are intolerant of problems with deliveries, especially over the Christmas period. They're also increasingly demanding around the introduction of new delivery options, such as same-day one hour delivery windows and locker pick-ups. Retailers can't rest on their laurels as wave after wave of innovation rolls in – if they don't keep up with the times, customers will head elsewhere. This means it's crucial to have a central 'hub' from which they can easily manage a variety of fulfilment services and providers, whether that's shipping items from overseas, or getting them to a specific location within a set time frame."

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