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Etailers lose billions through delivery issues: survey

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Online retailers lost £2.7bn in revenue in 2009 when customers abandoned their shopping carts in response to delivery issues, suggests new research.

The Royal Mail’s Delivery Matters research also found that 52% of online retailers were failing to meet shoppers’ needs in five key areas. They included giving a choice of delivery days, a good range of delivery options, parcel tracking, delivery speeds, and delivery costs. More than half (52%) of those who abandon their carts told the Royal Mail’s researchers that they do so because they were not happy with the delivery charge.

Gary Winter, Royal Mail’s head of goods fulfilment, said: “Customer needs continue to evolve and in a massively competitive online marketplace retailers that operate in a bubble and fail to take these needs into account risk losing business.’

The Royal Mail has developed, in partnership with IMRG, five Golden Rules to guide retailers.

Be flexible: give customers the option to choose the delivery dates that they want so that they can receive their order at the first attempt

Help customers to help you: accept delivery instructions and requests, as it will improve the chances of meeting your customers’ needs

Keep customers informed: let customers know when items are dispatched and when to expect delivery, allowing them to track progress where possible.

Don’t be late: make sure customers’ goods are always delivered on time, and ensure you offer fast delivery options

No surprises: explain your delivery service right at the start and be transparent with your delivery costs and returns policy as the customer shops.

IMRG managing director David Smith said: “In order to support the continued growth of our industry it’s vital that online retailers regularly evaluate the scope of their delivery offerings and look for new ways to satisfy customer expectations – particularly given that the evidence points to a real opportunity for increased sales and customer loyalty.”

Our view: Retailers could be forgiven for thinking that a delivery firm would say that delivery options on websites need to be better. But increasingly the view of multichannel experts is that it all comes down to delivery. Robin Terrell of House of Fraser told us last week, discussing international delivery, that this is the most important area to work on.

So while we might take the Royal Mail’s advice with a pinch of salt, it’s certainly advice that’s worth taking. Because if a website doesn’t deliver to the customer’s satisfaction, what, ultimately was the point of their shopping online, rather than going to a shop?

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