Online companies must now deliver

I was interested to read the recent article “Consumers and e-tail begin to click” (MW 14 April). Royal Mail’s research showed that 29.4 million people used the internet to buy gifts last Christmas, great news for e-tailers. However, there are still lessons to be learned and meeting the high expectations of online consumers is difficult when there is no direct customer contact.

Once retailers have decided to have an online presence, they have to get the back end processes in place to effectively fulfil all the orders. Unfortunately this still seems to be a stumbling block for many retailers.

In fact, our recent research shows that 72 per cent of consumers who have ordered something online have experienced problems when it came to delivery, and 53 per cent of those questioned said that their delivery arrived late, damaged or was the wrong item altogether. These figures are surprisingly high, and it’s the final delivery that ultimately determines whether the buying experience was good or bad.

Retailers should look to businesses that are getting it right, such as online supermarket Ocado. Its offering includes one-hour time slots, evening delivery

as well as helpful delivery drivers – a rare breed. It’s this kind of best practice fulfilment model that other businesses should strive to match, regardless of industry sector.

Another worrying statistic thrown up in our research was that 42 per cent of consumers were provided with a guaranteed day of delivery rather than a specific time slot. If a customer orders something that needs to be met at the door, such as groceries, it’s not acceptable for them to sit in all day to wait for the shopping to arrive. The winners in the fight to retain customers will be those that offer the systems, solutions and delivery choices that meet the expectations of a new breed of online consumer.

John Shore

Associate director (logistics)

Prolog

Annesley, Nottinghamshire

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