There’s a common conception in the e-commerce industry that personalisation is the essential mechanism for building loyalty says Kees de Vos, chief product and marketing officer at MetaPack. As a result many brands use personalisation engines to up-sell, cross-sell and devise detailed promotional campaigns designed to keep their customers close to them. They take advantage of technology that delivers views on their products from sites like Reevoo, but what they are perhaps not tracking is the impact of their delivery services.
While a retailer might have provided a customer with a wholly satisfying online experience, logistically there is so much to organise once they have placed their order. It is challenging for retailers to ensure the same level of expertise continues right up to the moment of delivery. In the age of personalisation, the new battleground is delivery. Those e-commerce directors who are still looking only at website capabilities to drive conversion, take the risk of missing out on an essential element of the customer journey – providing delivery services that meet each customer’s personal, complex demands. By making delivery a priority, e-commerce businesses have the opportunity to build consumer loyalty and drive repeat purchases.
Understandably, personalisation can differ for each retailer. For example, personalisation at a supermarket can speed up and enhance a customer’s weekly order process. They are less likely to need a wide range of preferences for delivery since most customers will want their groceries delivered directly to their homes at a set time. However, for other retailers with specialist or multiple product lines, customers are likely to be more exacting and complex in their delivery requirements – this is less about personalisation, and more about ‘personalising’ the delivery options.
Why personalising delivery works
We carried out research last year that illustrated the knock-on effect of a negative delivery experience. 78% of consumers said they were likely to tell their friends about it and 66% said they would be likely to use an alternative retailer in the future. Conversely, 95% reported that a positive delivery experience would encourage them to shop more with that retailer in the future. The message is clear: if a retailer gets delivery right, consumers will reward them with their loyalty.
Where personalising delivery reaps dividends is through the options that retailers are displaying to their customers to meet their specific needs. Online shoppers in recent years have responded well to an increasing range of choice and have become more confident in the ability of retailers to meet their delivery promises, which has helped to build valuable trust between them.
For example, our research showed that people aged 25 to 34 are most likely to select an in-store collection or use a pick up point or locker. In this age group consumers select the delivery option that fits in with their lifestyle. Getting this right is crucial because this is also the age group that is most likely to express satisfaction, and dissatisfaction, through social media. Building brand advocacy is essential.
Retailers are also picking up on the significance of delivery speed, although the jury is out on whether this makes commercial sense for all retail operations. Further research amongst UK consumers aged 18-24 reveals that these Millennials want their delivery fast and on their terms, with a third saying that for them it’s all about speed. The convenience of same-day delivery, delivery on a Sunday or a delivery made one hour after a purchase is welcomed by many consumers and suits their personal needs. However, when quizzed further, over half of the young digital natives also said that they value free delivery the most.
For retailers, offering a wide choice of delivery options at different price levels and meeting delivery objectives means they can differentiate themselves sharply from the competition. Consumer requirements change, often quickly, and with delivery representing such a crucial link in the e-commerce chain, retailers have to be fast on their feet. While the industry debates the merits and the costs of offering same day delivery, consumers are already thinking how convenient it would be to receive their goods in a locked box outside their house, or via a drone, or perhaps deposited into the boot of their car. There’s never been a more dynamic time in the world of delivery and for enterprising retailers prepared to offer personalised delivery options, the rewards will be great.