By Jack Underwood, CEO and co-founder of Circuit
The way people shop, both online and in store has changed dramatically over the last decade. Retailers have introduced new ways to pay, faster delivery has become available and designing a great user experience has become a key differentiator. Shopping has been transformed.
Ecommerce is flourishing and UNCTAD reports that global ecommerce sales rose to $26.7 trillion in 2020, making up 19% of all retail sales (up from 16% in 2019). This huge increase reflects the worldwide shift to online shopping since the onset of the pandemic. While this is great news for delivery, the increase in demand increases any issues in the post-purchase delivery supply chain. It is vital that retailers and couriers address these issues so that they can take full advantage of this growing trend.
At Circuit we wanted to understand the typical consumer delivery experience over the past year, so we did some research. We surveyed 1,000 people to understand consumer sentiment towards online retailers, and how much of this is influenced by the delivery experience. A key finding was that nearly a quarter of customers (22.5%) who experience delivery issues whilst ordering goods online do not complain.
This worrying result highlights that retailers are not fully aware of their customers’ needs. If retailers are not aware of negative feedback, they could miss an important opportunity to resolve it – to generate a positive experience and get the customer back on side.
It’s crucial that the delivery feedback gap is closed. Here are some steps that retailers can take:
The role of customer feedback
Customer feedback is hugely important. While businesses may not like to hear that from an unhappy customer with a negative experience, it is vital that delivery issues are not going unnoticed or unresolved – as this can only deepen the customer’s dissatisfaction. When businesses have knowledge of customer issues, they are able to proactively solve them, improve customer relationships, and keep their customer’s future trade. It is cheaper to keep the right customers than to attract new customers and so focusing on customer retention has clear economic benefits for retailers.
Feedback is crucial to a retailer’s internal decision-making. With the current gap, customer issues are ignored, and so retailers risk making changes that do not improve customer satisfaction. With feedback, retailers can develop insights by spotting repeated patterns, which in turn help them make changes to improve their processes, and improve the customer experience.
How to solve the issues and close the gap
To develop a good understanding of the customer experience, retailers should make sure that they ask for feedback at all stages – including the shopping process, delivery experience and of course, the product. However, it is not just enough to ask for feedback, retailers must make it easy for customers to give it. Customers need to feel that their feedback is valued and used to help them resolve their issue and improve the overall experience for the future.
One way of doing this is through technology and the use of mobile apps which have the feedback process built into the product so that feedback is possible at just the touch of a button. This significantly increases the amount of feedback a retailer can access. A second option for retailers is to offer customers incentives for leaving reviews. There are a number of ways of doing this including:
- Giving customers a discount code after giving feedback on a number of purchases.
- If you have a points-based rewards card, give them more points for feedback.
- Entering customers in a raffle to win your products once they’ve given feedback.
Where can delivery go next?
Currently the three parties involved in delivery, the retailers, couriers and recipients, all work independently. This means that processes are inefficient, and communication across them is challenging. For example, it can lead to delivery drivers having to deliver twice as they do not know that their customer is away from home that day.
One way of doing this is to bring all parties involved into one ecosystem to allow better communications and help streamline processes. It should mean that in future there are no ‘sorry we missed you’ cards, or packages left out in the rain. It should also help couriers and retailers collect feedback, as it will be easier for recipients to give it. Customers should no longer need to find the relevant email or log onto a website to give feedback. Instead, just like with apps such as Deliveroo and Uber, they will be able to give feedback in a few seconds. There will be less friction in the process of a customer giving feedback, and it will no longer be a chore to do.
While the feedback gap that our research identified is concerning, it is an issue that can be fixed. Customer reviews should be welcomed and encouraged as it is only through this that retailers and couriers can truly understand how to improve their customer experience and develop a post-purchase delivery system for the future.