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Why customer experience excellence must extend into last mile delivery

By Sébastien Potts, UK Country Manager, Urb-it

The growth of e-commerce and the increasing consumer expectations that have come with it has changed the logistics industry.

The moment a purchase is delivered to the doorstep is usually the first – and potentially the only – human interaction a customer has when shopping online. Arguably this makes the last mile of the delivery process the most memorable point post purchase – and consumers will judge retailers on their experience, especially if it is particularly positive or negative. Get it right and brand equity and loyalty remain intact – or can be positively improved, – but get it wrong, and a customer can be lost for good.  The costs and risks of this are high.

This doorstep moment provides a significant opportunity for retailers to invest in extending their brand experience to their customer. So much money, time and creativity is poured into customer acquisition.  However the same should be invested into the delivery and doorstep experience. Why? Recent research from Metapack shows that up to 40% of consumers do not return to the same retailer following a poor delivery experience.

In a physical store, a retailer has complete control of its brand and the customer experience from the moment customers walk through the door to the moment they leave. The same cannot be said when it comes to shopping online. A delivery partner, who the retailer likely has minimal operational control over, takes over post purchase and is in charge of delivering the goods to the customer.

Research from parcelLab shows that today 79% of retailers ignore their customers after sending a package dispatch notification. In the customer-centric world we live in, this approach is a missed opportunity for brands and risks losing customers to competitors.

When a retailer chooses a partner to deliver their last mile, consideration needs to be given as to whether they align with their brand’s values and customer proposition, particularly when it comes to sustainability – but also choice and flexibility. A customer might have chosen to shop with a retailer because of their strong sustainability credentials in the manufacturing process of their supply chain, but that work is all undone if their purchase is delivered in a traditional van powered by fossil fuel, by a courier who is not fairly compensated by their employer.

Retailers should also look closely at what the ‘sustainable’ delivery is that is being offered by their logistics partner. Offsetting only means that the amount of carbon emissions omitted during the journey are paid for in other ways to absorb CO2 to compensate.  Even electric vans do not fully reduce emissions – and still don’t address any sustainability challenges around congestion, particularly in cities.

Consideration also needs to be given as to whether that partner can truly deliver customer experience excellence in the last mile.   The last mile of the delivery process is the hardest to fulfil, most expensive and in urban areas is the most damaging to the environment. If a delivery doesn’t meet customer expectations, this can have an impact on brand loyalty and customer retention.

Metapack’s research also showed that 45% of consumers will abandon their cart if no convenient delivery is available. Flexible, predictable and sustainable delivery solutions is what customers want, and therefore can help retailers to attract and retain customers, ultimately increasing checkout conversion rates.

Customers also want visibility of the journey their item makes, from point of purchase to doorstep arrival. Realtime tracking – whether that be via app, email or SMS update, which provides a customer-centric positive experience leading up to delivery, helps the customer to feel in full control of their purchase.

With 27% of total retail sales in the UK in January 2022 made online, it makes commercial sense to ensure a positive delivery experience. Retailers have the opportunity to partner with delivery providers who can provide a post purchase experience which aligns with their brand proposition and values, which will in turn keep customers coming back time and time again.

Urb-it provides sustainable customer-centric last-mile delivery services in Europe’s largest cities.

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