Despite innovation in fulfilment increasingly being identified as a source of competitive advantage, many retailers' delivery offers still fail to meet the demands of customers, a new report by Sorted, the delivery experience company, reveals.
Original research of 2,000 UK shoppers overlaid with a survey of 50 retail leaders in the latest Delivery Battleground Report from Sorted shows that the greatest 'delivery experience gap', based on what consumers wanted and what retailers could offer, was centred around flexibility – or lack thereof – in fulfilment.
70% of consumers want retailers to provide more flexible fulfilment options and almost half (46%) agreed that convenience and personalisation were key factors in online fulfilment, expecting retailers to offer delivery options that are built to fit in around their lifestyles to best meet their needs.
However, only 18% of retailers have the capabilities to allow shoppers to alter an order right up until the moment of dispatch, and just 4% could offer changes in the delivery requirements at any time after the customer had placed an order.
This inflexibility in the customer supply chain, the report suggests, is not only costing retailers conversions and lost sales opportunities - in a highly competitive retail landscape, the danger of not giving shoppers exactly what they want is that they can quickly find an alternative option – but also negatively impacting on customer experience.
And, with lack of convenience accounting for a quarter of failed deliveries, due to shoppers not being able to change an order or delivery options once an item has been shipped, inflexibility in fulfilment is also impacting returns; failed online deliveries cost retailers an estimated £2.29m in returned goods on average each month, according to Sorted's latest data.
David Grimes, founder and CEO at Sorted, commented: "When it comes to delivering positive fulfilment experience, built around the needs of the shopper, the true solution is less about prioritising shiny new novelties and more about relationship building – creating closer collaboration between the retailer, the carrier and the customer.
"Ultimately, all three parties want the same thing: to get the product to the customer as quickly, easily and cost-effectively as possible. Yet all too often, delivery is a series of disjointed processes, with so many points of failure and risk that it does not create value for any of these three parties," he concluded.
About the research
Original research of 2,000 UK adults, polled by OnePoll. Survey of 50 retail leaders conducted by Retail Week Connect, which sought the opinions of retailer leaders, including chief executives, financial directors, chief information officers and marketing directors, across all sectors.