Neil Ashworth, CCO at Yodel explains how retailers can utilise mobile technology to reduce failed deliveries and improve the customer experience.
The delivery landscape has evolved beyond all recognition, particularly for those of us who remember ordering items from catalogues and waiting up to 28 days for our purchases to arrive. Now we can shop online using the laptop in the office, on our tablets from the comfort of our living room sofa and on our smartphones, using mobile enabled websites and apps from our favourite retailers.
Alongside this evolution there has been a sharp increase in consumer expectations in relation to the delivery of their order. In the days of catalogue shopping it wasn’t uncommon for someone to be at home to receive their delivery, and more recently customers would be satisfied with an email to confirm that their item had been dispatched. However, nowadays we’re all busier than ever, our lifestyles more unpredictable than before and communication has had to change. Consumers are accustomed to regular and accurate push notifications on the status of their order, as well as live information which they can access at any time via their various mobile devices.
Mobile technology is a fantastic tool for retailers and delivery partners to communicate with customers who are on the go, and it’s increasingly becoming a two-way conversation. Where once shoppers would have to fire up their desktop computer for an update on their order, now they expect to be able to find out the status of their delivery with a few taps on their smartphone. By opening up these channels and making it a dialogue, giving customers the opportunity to make changes to their delivery instructions on the go, there is a fantastic opportunity to minimise failed deliveries and enhance the shopper experience.
Through our ongoing ‘Have Your Say’ customer survey, we receive feedback from over 7,000 customers every day, so we asked them what they want from retailers and their delivery partners when using their mobile devices. In all, more than 14,000 customers responded.
This research tells us that mobile technology, including tablets and phones, is increasingly the medium of choice for shoppers when making a purchase, with nearly two thirds of customers (63%) citing this as their preferred way to shop – a 21% increase since 2015. This growth highlights the need for retailers and carriers alike to make sure that all communications are mobile compatible. Interestingly, women are 12% more likely to shop on mobile devices, with 43% preferring this method compared to 31% of men. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 64% of millennials overwhelmingly prefer to shop on their mobile phones, over desktops, laptops and tablets. The percentage of online shoppers choosing tablets over smartphones slightly increases with age, and tablets are the preferred choice for those aged 65 and over.
When it comes to tracking their order on mobile devices, 34% of shoppers prefer to use mobile websites to track their parcels. However, those who do download carriers’ apps expect to see a host of added value features – 75% want to be able to nominate a safe place to leave their parcel after they’ve made their order, if they will not be in to receive it and 16% want to be able to contact their driver directly through the app. Meanwhile, 50% of customers would download a courier app to use a parcel countdown feature, emphasising the growing desire for accurate, real time information amongst online shoppers as consumers become more aware of this technology.
However, many shoppers said that they preferred to use mobile websites instead of courier apps, predominately due to the storage space that an app takes up on mobile devices, and a perception that websites have more functionality. This perhaps demonstrates that the carrier industry needs to do more to communicate the benefits of their apps or to integrate tracking into their clients’ apps.
There are many options open to retailers to improve communication during the delivery process which will enhance their customers’ shopping experience and minimise the risk of failed deliveries.
As we’ve seen from the results above, there is no one size fits all, so at Yodel we automatically provide tracking information to customers through our website, push notifications via our app, SMS and email. We also use data from Have Your Say to help our clients truly understand who their customer is, so that we can both tailor our communications to them.
For retailers who prefer to own the entire customer journey, from order to delivery, it is possible to ‘white label’ tracking and fully integrate all information within their website to provide a seamless experience – something that we’ve been trialling with our clients and are launching soon.
December’s ONS retail figures demonstrate that retail revenues from shoppers using mobile devices bucked an otherwise gloomy outlook, and we expect mobile shopping will continue to grow in popularity.
As the nation becomes increasingly tech-savvy, it also seems likely that consumer expectations will continue to rise. When it comes to seeing accurate, up-to-date information about the progress of their online shopping via mobile devices and the ability to change delivery preferences, in-flight is set to be a key area for development.
Retailers can keep up with this rising demand by ensuring they have a mobile-first strategy at every stage of their customer journey, by investing in the right technology and by making customer experience their priority.
In the longer term, we expect the sector to keep evolving as consumers become accustomed to using voice controlled technology such as Google Home, Apple’s Siri and Amazon Echo. The mobile shopping landscape will continue to develop as players introduce innovations, and it’s up to all of us to embrace the continuing change in order to ensure that we continue to deliver a fantastic shopping experience.