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UK delivery becoming more flexible: study

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UK retailers are offering more flexible delivery, according to a new study, with almost three-quarters now offering shoppers at least two choices in how they get their goods.

The MICROS Systems 2012 Online Retail Delivery Report tested the service offered by 250 UK retailers by placing a live order. Researchers evaluated more than 40 aspects of each retailer’s service.

This year’s report found that almost three-quarters of retailers (74%) offered more than one delivery option and 61% can provide a next-day service. This year 19% of the traders tested offered free delivery, up from 13% in last year’s report.

More offered Saturday delivery, with the 34% of traders now offering this up from 25% in last year’ report. More also now offer text messages before delivery is made: 12% compared to 4% at the same time last year. Cross-channel collect from store delivery services were offered by 21% of retailers, while 62% delivered overseas, up from 58% last year.

Carlo Rimini, business unit director for ecommerce at MICROS UK, said: “This year’s Online Retail Delivery Report again shows that online shoppers are seeing more flexibility – 74% of retailers now offer at least two delivery options. Saturday delivery, in particular, is on the increase. Communication is also improving, with 12% of retailers now using text messaging to alert the customer that their delivery is about to arrive.”

But although many retailers are offering more flexible delivery it seems that a significant minority are still failing to respond to enquiries about deliveries. Some 16% of those put to the test did not respond to an email about delivery while 33% did not respond to a phone call, and only 13% engaged with a tweet.

Each year MICROS UK, previously Snow Valley, awards the Golden Chariot award to the retailer who provides an outstanding service during the course of the research. This year it went to Kiddicare, for a service that included free delivery as standard, goods arriving the next day, good communication that included a pre-delivery text message as well as good handling of a customer service email and phone call.

Silver Chariots were won by Wiggle, for best international delivery, Lush for best brand experience in delivery, Whistles for best customer service and John Lewis for best crosschannel delivery service.

Rimini added: “What is particularly pleasing is that the previous winners of the Golden Chariot, ASOS and John Lewis, were again in the top ten, which shows just how consistently those retailers are performing. When customers are getting great service they will come back – and great service is what those retailers are providing, year in, year out.”

Patrick Wall, chief executive of report sponsor MetaPack, said the report provided insight and evidence to help define what a good delivery proposition should be.

He said: “As in previous years, the 2012 Online Retail Delivery Report highlights a number of trends and shows the continued progress that our industry is making. However there are still some areas that are lacking, namely nominated day services, delivery to multiple locations, Saturday deliveries and the ability to deliver to the British Forces. There is a possibility to gain a competitive advantage by implementing these and it will be interesting to see who leads the field in the coming year.”

The report is free to download here.

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