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Industry opinion, DHL: what fashion could learn from grocery delivery


Is it time fashion etailers gave you a whole new delivery experience? Bookable slots are becoming increasingly expected by customers, but how about a delivery that has an extended duration during which the customer can assess their purchase, maybe even try it on, before deciding whether or not they want to keep it or send it back as an on-the-spot return? John Boulter, managing director of retail, at DHL, thinks there are several tricks the fashion sector in particular could learn from the way supermarkets delivery grocery shopping.

John Boulter, DHL

John Boulter, DHL

In many respects, the grocery sector is leading the way with online orders. All the major supermarkets now offer very specific delivery slots to suit customer demand, while certain retailers are renowned for the service they provide their customers, bringing groceries into the kitchen and helping those who request it unpack their supplies.

While in part this efficient, customer focused supply chain is a consequence of the products being sold – groceries need to be with their end user much faster than an item of clothing in order to retain their quality and freshness – retailers in other sectors, such as fashion, should consider ways in which they can make their supply chain more customer focused in order to improve loyalty and meet demand.

Online only retailers, such as ASOS or Amazon, are increasingly offering their customers the option of next-day delivery or, in some cases, even same-day delivery. While more traditional, store-based brands may be unable to compete in the same way there are other ways that a competitive advantage can be gained through supply chain efficiency.

Supermarkets are able to offer customers specific slots for delivery; quite often these are selected by the customer to fall before or after work so that they can ensure they are in to accept the delivery. Though it is not essential that the customer is at home when their item of clothing is delivered, offering this service can reduce the inconvenience caused to the customer by having to go into the store again to collect the product, or finding that the product has been left at the local post office.

Furthermore, the ecommerce customer service offered by fashion retailers does not always match that of grocery deliveries. Retailers should consider offering customers the option of a longer delivery slot so that the customer can try on their new purchase and return it immediately to the driver if it does not fit, or suit their taste. This would mean that customers need not return to a store with their product or pay to post it back to the depot if it does not fit.

One aspect of ecommerce where the fashion sector is leading is with click-and-collect services. These services are becoming increasingly popular with customers and allow them to pick up their purchases in store when convenient to them. Supermarkets and grocery retailers should look to the supply chains of high street fashion retailers when considering improving their click-and-collect services. Here, forecasting is vital and it is important that grocery retailers ensure they are aware of available stock across all channels to avoid product shortfalls or substitutions, which are impossible to offer in the fashion sector.

By examining the leading aspects of each other’s supply chains, grocery and fashion retailers can expand the services they offer, improve customer service and avoid product shortfalls.

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