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Accenture 2021 Shipping Study shows delivery improvements despite supply chain challenges


A new study by Accenture says that despite supply chain challenges retailers’ delivery capabilities have improved compared to last year.
As part of its 2021 Shipping Study, Accenture tested the market with deliveries placed in mid-November. Only 5.5% of retailers delivered orders late this year, compared with 20% in 2020 and 17% in 2019. Accenture suggests that retailers have implemented lessons from the last 18 months to improve delivery services.

The average latest promise delivery date returned to 6 days in 2021, which was offered by 70% of retailers (down from 7 days in 2020).

However, it’s not been without cost. Accenture found that only 13% of retailers are now offering free standard delivery as an option, which is down 6% compared to 2020 (19%), meaning that whilst delivery efficiency is improving, it comes at a price for shoppers. The average delivery charge remained broadly the same (£3.89 in 2021 vs £3.93 in 2020)

The price of next day delivery is failing with more retailers offering next day delivery (77% in 2021 vs 70% in 2020) for almost a pound cheaper (£6.14 in 2021 vs £7.10 in 2020).

Click and collect options are also improving. 74% of retailers now offer click and collect (compared to 62% in 2020), with almost double the number of retailers offering this service for free (64% in 2021 compared to 35% in 2020). Additionally, 24% of retailers are offering a same-day click and collect service, with 93% of same-day offerings free of charge

However, fewer retailers are offering delivery date or time selection, assumingly impacted by the working from home model meaning consumers are more available to accept deliveries. 37% of retailers are offering a delivery date selection for convenience (vs. 39% in 2020), and only 13% offer a time slot (vs 19% in 2020).

The order process is not without challenges either. The study showed that 13% of shoppers experienced some form of cart/technical issues, up from 10% last year, with problems experienced including items going out of stock while in the basket, the appearance of code on the website, making order confirmation unclear, payment not going through and being logged out of their account.

Grocery supply remains good, but driver shortages and increased customer demand are fuelling the booking of grocery delivery slots, with some supermarkets already fully booked for Christmas delivery days between the 22-24 December.

Kelly Askew, retail strategy lead for Accenture UK & Ireland said: “These new findings show us that retailers are rising to the challenge, with marked improvements on their performance compared to last year. The businesses in our study have clearly used the last 12 months to strengthen their delivery capabilities as more and more shoppers opt for the convenience of online.

“As fears over COVID have come back to the fore, shoppers may be less comfortable about hitting the high street to stock up for the season but will still be desperate to make up for the ‘Christmas that wasn’t’ in 2020. The ability of retailers to offer a faster and more reliable delivery service will be crucial for consumers, now more than ever, and could see some brands secure new loyal customers if their e-commerce offer saves someone’s Christmas.”

The shipping study saw 62 orders of 379 items placed from 62 retailers across a broad range of categories. Pre-purchase audits were completed for retailers’ websites to gather information on their delivery, returns and refund costs and policies, as well as details on inventory visibility and sustainability. Orders were placed 19 November 2021. Analysis was based on orders received by 25 November 2021 and any orders not fulfilled 100% were excluded from the top retailer list.

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