Fast and free delivery: What online shoppers really want

By Matt Furneaux – Director of Location Intelligence at GBG


As consumers are increasingly abandoning high streets in today’s convenience-driven, digital-first world, the e-commerce industry is concerned with fast and convenient customer experience. Businesses today are aware that if your product or service doesn’t help users to transact quicker and easier, then you might as well pack up shop. Convenience is king and customers will pay a premium for it. But is ‘fast and free’ delivery a focal point for a successful e-commerce business?

As the label suggests, ‘fast and free’ is quick delivery (such as the next day) at no cost. While it may sound impressive and tempting, there are a few other factors that might make the difference in whether your businesses makes or breaks in today’s digital environment.

The cost of ‘free’ delivery

What we’re seeing across the industry is that when consumers have plenty of options, they don’t necessarily want fast and free delivery, they just want to know when their item will arrive – and that it will arrive on time. Consumers don’t view products or services in siloes anymore. They consider the brand responsible for everything, from direct offers in their inbox, to purchasing, and even delivery. That means, in a world of consumer crusaders, brands can be publicly held to account for any errors made – enter social media.

In addition, ‘fast’ is never really free; there’s always a cost, and for some online retailers, that means upping the price of a product itself in order to balance out the cost of delivery. For the low-cost items, this can look like your shop is overpriced, ultimately impacting sales and brand perception.

Instead of trying to charge the cost of shipping elsewhere, e-commerce retailers should focus on a clear line of communication with customers throughout the process. Keeping them up to date on the status of their order with push notifications and ensure they understand where their item is at every stage of the journey.

Think ‘exact’ before ‘fast and free’

While retailers put loads of emphasis on meeting the ‘next day delivery’ trend, the industry still suffers from errors and multiple delivery attempts. According to our research, 62% of online shoppers have experienced a late or failed delivery which, in the UK alone, costs each retailer on average of £14.

Errors can occur repeatedly due to potentially poor or outdated data in retailers’ systems. If consumer details aren’t accurate, the courier won’t be able to find customers, even if they’re located in the most accessible area in central London. This leads to high costs – re-delivery, refunds, discounts and vouchers to appease shoppers, which ultimately means dissatisfied customers and negative brand reputation.

A quick fix here includes type-ahead address verification. This allows retailers to capture only clean and accurate address data in your checkout forms – even if your customer makes a typo or forgets details, like flat or door number. This can drastically improve online delivery rates and therefore customer satisfaction.

Instead of moving products at speed, retailers should look at improving each step of the customer journey. That means nailing down the accuracy, convenience, and clear lines of communication to deliver a more seamless online experience, delivery experience and overall happier customers.

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