Only a small minority of the UK’s larger online retailers offer free or same-day delivery, or provide customers with personalised information about the status of their orders, a new study has found.
Researchers for the ParcelLab UK Ecommerce Shipping Study placed orders with 100 leading online retailers and both assessed the delivery options that they were offered and monitored retailer communications during the delivery process. They found that only seven offered same-day delivery – and that came at a high price – while only 12 offered free shipping on all purchases. Only eleven communicated with customers directly during shipping. Among the remaining 89, this task was left to the carrier, or the customer received no updates at all.
“Retailers are no longer defined by their products, but instead they are differentiated by the service they provide from initial visit right through to returns,” said ParcelLab founder and CEO Tobias Buxhoidt. “Therefore, if a retailer wants to consistently outgrow its competitors, they need to build strong customer loyalty through above average customer experiences. This is just as important after checkout as before, if not more so.”
Those that scored highly included New Look, overall, Asos, for its checkout experience, The Fragrance Shop for its shipping processes, Zara for its overall delivery experiences and Chain Reaction Cycles for the way it handled returns.
“Despite various studies showing that shipping costs are a major ‘conversion killer’, the UK’s largest online retailers rarely offer this free of charge,” said Buxhoidt. “comScore, for example, found that 61% of customers are ‘at least somewhat likely’ to cancel their purchase if free shipping is unavailable.
Buxhoidt added: “Meanwhile, offering personalised post-purchase support not only keeps customers informed and happy, building loyalty, but also provides the opportunity to share offers and suggest complementary purchases, increasing sales. And when you consider that our research shows that 70-80% of personalised post-purchase messages are opened and result in 0.5-1% of customers immediately making a new purchase, it’s clear that by not doing this UK retailers are missing out on millions of pounds in potential sales every month.”
IRUK Top500 research found that in 2019, Top500 retailers offered, on average, three delivery options, with standard delivery costing an average of £3.88 and taking five days to arrive. More than half (58%) offered next-day delivery, down from 63% last year, while 5% offered same-day delivery.