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Opinion: With great convenience comes great responsibility, says On the dot CEO Patrick Gallagher


Delivery partners will play a more crucial role than ever in getting convenient fulfilment right this peak season and enabling customer satisfaction, so what must they consider, asks Patrick Gallagher, CEO at CitySprint brand On the dot.
Patrick GallagherOur ‘always on’ world means consumers crave 24/7 access to their favourite brands and demand services that fit around their busy lives. And 2016 has been the year in which retailers have truly started to treat convenience as king.

This year, Amazon has launched its new ‘Dash’ service, triggering deliveries at the touch of a button, and Sainsbury’s now offers its own one-hour delivery service. With peak season fast approaching – the busiest time of year for any retailer – we can expect this focus on convenience to ramp up even more.

In recent years we have seen significant spend shift to online, as consumers have sought a quick, open-all-hours purchasing option. In fact, last year shoppers spent £1.1 billion online on Black Friday, according to Experian-IMRG. This was an increase of 36% on the previous year, whilst footfall on the high street fell by 9.6% according to shopper tracking company Springboard.

This combination of convenience and consumer preference for online shopping means that delivery will play a vital role in how retailers approach peak season this year, and fulfilment partners will need to step up to the plate. This peak season, keeping customers waiting for their purchases or leaving a ‘sorry we missed you’ card simply won’t be good enough.

With this in mind how can retailers and their delivery partners work together to deliver the best results for consumers over peak season?

1) Make delivery part of the customer experience

We recently surveyed more than 2,000 UK consumers to find out what they value most when it comes to convenient delivery. Top of the list was accuracy of package tracking, whilst 77% of customers said that they are more likely to pay for delivery a second time if they receive their package from a ‘professional’ courier the first.

These findings show that for the customer, fulfilment has a bigger role to play than simply getting a package from A to B. Delivery is the final part of the overall brand experience – offering up a huge opportunity for retailers and their fulfilment partners during the competitive peak season.

By working together to make sure that the last mile is a continuation of a customer’s journey through a website, or even a bricks and mortar store, retailers and their logistics partners can give shoppers a unique experience right up to their doorstep. In doing so, retailers will create a lasting impression on a satisfied customer – one that is more likely to be loyal to the brand in the future.

2) Offer flexibility

Convenience means so much more than just ‘speed’: in fact, our study found that convenience changes with different customers, and even for different purchases. For example, a consumer is more likely to select a convenient delivery option if they are purchasing a luxury item over a functional one, or if they are buying an item for a special occasion rather than day to day use.

Retailers should avoid a cookie-cutter approach to delivery and instead offer a range of options to suit varying customer needs. They can do this by working with fulfilment partners to give consumers options including same day and specified hour delivery.

In this way, retailers – especially smaller, independent businesses – can create a point of difference that will help them to stand out from larger competitors over the busy peak period.

3) Be realistic

Unsurprisingly, customers are far more wary and less loyal if they have been let down by a retailer in the past. One of the oldest rules in the book is that they are unlikely to come back if they were disappointed the first time.

On Black Friday there is a temptation for retailers to over-promise on delivery, despite customers being unlikely to need their bargains so far ahead of Christmas itself. With the stakes so high at peak, it is important that retailers and fulfilment companies work together to ensure that they both know what to expect over an exceptionally busy period and set realistic targets for deliveries.

4) Winning the peak season battle

Busy lives and demanding schedules mean that customers are always looking for products and services that make their lives easier.

This peak season, delivery is a great way for retailers to demonstrate that they can operate on consumers’ terms and give them exactly what they want. By working closely with retail clients to become part of the brand, offer flexibility and set realistic fulfilment goals, logistic partners can fulfil their responsibility and get 2016’s peak right.

The On the dot convenience report can be downloaded here.

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