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Making delivery costs visible

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A new tool has been released to help retailers show customers the real cost of travelling to make their purchase, rather than buying from their website for delivery.

Visible Delivery has developed a real delivery price calculator which it says will help ecommerce sites explain the real costs of driving to buy an item from the shops, compared it to the postal costs incurred when buying online. This is designed as a reality check for the high number of people who abandon online shopping carts because shipping costs are too high.

The tool is based on an algorithm that draws on data including the latest fuel prices and Google Maps, as well as individual cars’ MPG ratings to calculate the cost of fuel and the time that the driver would use if they were to go to the nearest shop selling such an item to buy it for themselves.

Using Visible Delivery’s automated route maps, shoppers can see at the point of sale the real cost they would pay to go to the shops rather than order online. The tool is available now for UK and US addresses, currently supports Magento and Volusions ecommerce platforms and can be trialled for free.

Our view: This is a clever idea that addresses a real problem for ecommerce retailers, and we’re sure it would influence many people by its logic. We’re not sure, however, that it reflects the complex reality of buying decisions, since most people wouldn’t get in their car to buy a single object. Instead, surely, they’d decide to drop into a shop because it was on their way home, close to work or tie it into another trip they already had to make. And would the real cost of delivery include the trip to the sorting office or parcel depot because the buyer wasn’t at home when it arrived?

We think it would take a much more complex algorithm to produce results that would reflect the way people really operate – but this is a good start.

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