Supplying the improved delivery services that customers want without compromising profitability is a concern for Australian businesses.
The sheer size of the country and the vast distances between population centres mean that only a few Australian retailers currently have the capability to deliver products at the speed that many other countries now take for granted.
However, RetailX research has observed that this area of retail performance is one where the whole market tends to move together. This isn’t primarily because of what retailers do. Rather, when major logistics providers offer a new capability, retailers adopt this in order to avoid being left behind by their competitors. What does this mean on the ground? We’ve noticed in Europe that the number of leading retailers in a country offering convenient fulfilment options has, on occasion, doubled over a single 12-month period after years of little change.
Researching this Dimension, we have measured the AU250’s delivery, collection and returns propositions to the metropolitan area of every state and mainland territory. While customers tend to care only about convenience and speedy delivery, businesses must also ensure that any improvements they make to their services don’t render their ecommerce propositions unprofitable. RetailX research, however, adopts the customer’s perspective to see benchmark usability and convenience.
While it seems counter-intuitive to start our review with returns, this is often the way that consumers assess retailers. Before placing an order, many first satisfy themselves that it’s not going to be a pain for them to return an item should it be the wrong size, not quite what they wanted, or if they simply change their mind.
That’s good news for the 23% of the AU250 that offer pre-paid return labels, either printed and packaged along with the items, or as a link for the customer to print themselves at home. Only 10% of AU250 retailers refund the cost of postage, although 68% of multichannel retailers do allow ecommerce orders to be returned to stores, while 18% allow returns via a third-party location such as a different participating store or a locker. Only 9% support collection from the customer’s home and the median length of AU250 returns policies is 30 days.
The median AU250 retailer offers free delivery on orders over AU$100. This is high compared to other markets RetailX has measured. Just 10% of the AU250 offer next-day delivery, according to a weighted average, with 12% in Sydney and 11% in Melbourne and Brisbane at the top of the spectrum, and 7% in Darwin at the lower end. Just six companies (less than 3%) of the AU250 currently offer nominated-day delivery, with five of these also allowing customers to refine the options to time of day or ‘after-work’ slots. Such options are far more common in Europe and we expect the local market to follow suit.
Most AU250 retailers only offer one ‘standard’ delivery option, although a significant number offer two or three, such as ‘expedited’. The median standard delivery timeframe is six or seven days for Darwin or Perth and five days for the other capitals. Standard delivery cost is AU$10 for the median AU250 company.
With this service growing in popularity, 32% of the AU250 currently offer click and collect, with 9% offering next-day collection and 9% offering same-day collection. Most of the AU250 don’t charge for collection and overall, the median time until items are ready to collect is 24 hours.
Coles and Woolworths stand out in this research for being able to handle groceries, including refrigerated goods, which require a demanding set of specialist vehicles and facilities – not to mention agreed times when the customer will be at home to receive the goods. Other retailers that excel in this Dimension include Cotton On, Country Road and Millers.