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Customer expectations around online delivery will only continue to rise as more retailers compete to offer new and better options as technology advances

Cost vs convenience – what consumers really want from ecommerce delivery – By Michael Dyson

Consumers’ expectations regarding ecommerce deliveries are changing, so how can logistics providers adapt, and what do they need to do to meet these expectations?

As consumers become increasingly demanding when it comes to online delivery, retail logistics providers need to work harder to understand and meet these demands. If they fail to do this, they will find themselves left behind as consumers move on to a retailer that can offer them the delivery service they want. 

Customers want convenience

One of the main reasons consumers shop online is for convenience. They can go onto a retailer’s website from any location, at any time, from any device, and easily find the product they want. They want a seamless shopping experience that is quick and easy, and they want a matching delivery experience. 

If the delivery process does not match the convenience factor of online shopping, then customers will more likely cease shopping with a particular retailer and move on to a retailer with a better offering.

The consumer search for convenience is supported by a recent survey which found that 61% of Australasian consumers value speedy delivery above all other delivery factors when shopping online. This was followed by free returns (49%), click and collect (33%) and being able to specify delivery time (30%).
This also shows that in addition to convenience, Australasian consumers also want flexibility with their online delivery options. People are busier than ever and don’t want delivery that takes more than a week or requires them to pick up from the post office. They want it when, where and how best suits their lifestyle and schedule. 

Accommodating faster delivery demands

With fast delivery the top priority for Australasian shoppers, what does this mean for the supply chain? In order to meet customer demand for quicker delivery, some retailers have started offering a same-day delivery option. While this has undoubtedly added a high level of pressure to their supply chains and 3PLs, there are also a number of restrictions involved to make this delivery option possible. 

This includes close proximity of the delivery address to one of the available stores/warehouses, placing an online order by a certain time, and sometimes needing to spend over a certain amount to receive free express delivery. These restrictions prevent express delivery as being an option for many customers. 

In the future it is likely that the majority of retailers will look to offer this kind of express delivery option to keep customers happy, but they may need to find a way of removing the restrictions to make the option accessible for everyone.  

Embracing new technologies 

New technologies will be the answer to the supply chain being able to make fast and efficient online deliveries, such as same-day delivery. Recent research revealed that Australasian consumers are open to new technologies, such as drones and self-propelled vehicles, with over 53% of consumers feeling comfortable with these kinds of new shipping methods being introduced in the future, compared to today’s traditional delivery options. 

With these new delivery methods and technologies comes the need for management platforms that can ensure the success of automated delivery solutions across a range of environments. These platforms need to be capable of a wide range of management functions, from securing customer data and the safety of drone delivery, through to tracking of deliveries in real time and sending automated updates to customers. 

These wide-ranging technologies will allow the supply chain to become more efficient and productive, meaning customers can reap the rewards of better delivery services. 

Customers wary of additional costs

While convenience and fast delivery are clearly what’s most important to Australasian consumers, that does not mean they are willing to pay additional costs for these options. Only 34% of Australasian consumers surveyed stated they would be willing to pay a slight premium for these new delivery methods, even if it meant reduced delivery times and ensured safe and quick delivery of online orders. 

This is likely due to the fact that consumers have become used to getting these services for free from many retailers, therefore they expect all delivery to be free of charge. Delivery is no longer considered a luxury, but instead just a standard service that they don’t expect to pay for. 

The supply chain industry will need to address this in the future and find a way to either make new technologies more affordable when they are integrated into delivery processes, or convince consumers that the enhanced delivery service provided by these new technologies is worth the slightly higher delivery price. The latter will be more difficult as consumers have long since grown accustomed to free delivery, which makes them less inclined to pay for it in the future. 

Keeping up with high demands

Customer expectations around online delivery will only continue to rise as more retailers compete to offer new and better options, and as technology within the industry advances. It’s up to the supply chain to be positioned to keep up with the multiplying delivery options and technologies in order to meet constantly shifting customer expectations. 

The retailers that do not keep their logistics side of the business flexible and ready for change will find themselves left behind as their customers move on to a competitor with a better service. 

Michael Dyson is the managing director for Australia and New Zealand at SOTI, a market leader in the delivery of business mobility and IoT solutions

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