Article

David Grimes
David Grimes 7 December 2017

Preventing a customer experience nightmare this Christmas

All eyes are on delivery this year, as consumers leave Christmas shopping until last minute – thanks to the convenience and immediacy of ecommerce – delivery firms are under increasing pressure. Here's four key ways that by planning ahead you can optimise the delivery experience this Christmas, and ensure the festive season is full of cheer and margins maximised at each stage. 

Delivering Christmas for your customers is a massive responsibility.  Get it right, and you’ll earn Santa-like kudos. Get it wrong, with a much-anticipated gift arriving after the big day, and you risk a Grinch-like reputation, as well as lost sales and loyalty, which not only will saddle you with negative PR, but could significantly impact the bottom line.  

I've outlined four key ways retailers can plan ahead to optimise the delivery experience in the run up to Christmas.

1. Spreading Christmas across multiple carriers

One of the best ways you can avoid a nightmare before, during and after Christmas is to spread delivery across a range of carriers and avoid over-reliance on one delivery company alone. 

The multiple carrier model has become even more important with Royal Mail workers threatening strike action.  Even though the Royal Mail was given the right to overturn a Christmas strike by CWU members earlier this month, this highlights how an unexpected turn can upset planned deliveries, especially in the run to peak trading periods.  Last Christmas alone, Royal Mail delivered a staggering 130m parcels, so if industrial action were to go ahead, this would significantly impact both retail businesses and carriers, who face overburdening themselves if they were to try and absorb the extra volumes of deliveries during a critical trading period – where capacity is already stretched. 

Avoiding over reliance on a single carrier and effectively planning ahead, ensures retailers still have the flexibility and agility to deliver when it comes to peak trading periods.

2. Explore all channels

Deliveries need to be as convenient for the shopper as possible, meaning it is important to consider that a ‘perfect delivery’ might not just be to their home or workplace.  

Make the most of local click and collect, which not only presents a convenient delivery to those also wishing to browse for addition gifts in-store and save money on shipment, but can also drive extra conversions.  Educate your customers about the growing number of click and collect options and collection locker networks located at shopping centres, town and city centres and railway stations. These networks have been developed specifically with convenience and flexibility in mind. 

3. Choose the right carrier for each delivery

Not all deliveries are equal.  For example, delivering to the snowy Scottish Highlands at Christmas poses different challenges to city deliveries, so choosing a partner geared to perform at speed in a specific geographic area will make the process quicker and more seamless for customers. 

Similarly, choose the right carrier for specific items. Carriers tend to specialise at delivering specific types of products, generally depending on their size and weight.  Choosing a delivery partner based on their specialisms means the item is more likely to be delivered in time and more cost effectively, to ensure margins are maximised.

If cost is a real concern, there are comparison websites, which have pre-negotiated special rates – like My Parcel Delivery – that will enable you to compare the costs of distributing items across a range of different couriers and services. These sites do the research and legwork for you, highlighting the most cost-effective way to deliver your products to your eagerly awaiting customer. 

4. Provide personalisation in the delivery experience

Too often deliveries are just treated as a process with little value added to consumers, who increasingly want both speed and convenience.  Make sure your ecommerce platform can provide your customers with detailed delivery options – after all, peak is not just a busy time for retailers, customers will be just as busy over the festive period with social engagements and Christmas shopping, meaning they will need flexibility to build a delivery around their movements.

If a customer has the option to be specific about their delivery requirements at the online checkout stage, they are more likely to receive their purchase in person and before Christmas.  Let your customer choose from a range of the best available delivery options so they can define what perfect delivery looks like – and you will feel confident you can deliver on that promise. This will help to avoid repeat deliveries, which put more pressure on the couriers, as the first delivery was carried out in full to the customer’s satisfaction. 

Likewise, add in functionality to let customers tell you at checkout if there is a safe place or friendly neighbour who can take their item if they are out to reduce the chances of a failed delivery – that way, it enables them to decide what ‘secure delivery’ looks like.

And where possible, bulk together deliveries going to the same areas so that the carrier only needs to make one drop off instead of twenty. This is particularly important during peak trading periods, such as Black Friday and Christmas, where there will be high pressure on couriers to deliver on promises with larger volumes of items to distribute. 

All eyes are on delivery this year, as consumers leave shopping until last minute – thanks to the convenience and immediacy of ecommerce – delivery firms are under increasing pressure. But by thoroughly planning ahead and considering the above pointers in good time, you can ensure that Christmas is full of cheer and margins maximised at each stage. 
 

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