Black Friday. What started as a one-off sales event imported from America, is now a five-week shopping event in the UK, followed by Boxing Day sales. Consumers plan their gift shopping accordingly. They time purchases so they’ll get the best deals. In the most recent Annual Retail Survey from KPMG, the biggest challenge retailers face isn’t discounting, it’s fulfilling all those time-sensitive orders—and returns—when the stakes are higher than the rest of the year. According to the survey, “Once a logistical nightmare for consumers themselves, delivery is no longer restricted to the home—and with click and collect added to the mix, UK shoppers have a substantial choice when it comes to where, when and how they take receipt of their goods.” Last mile delivery has evolved.
While substantial choice is a consumer benefit, and ship from a store is a brand benefit, there can be negative implications for brands that sell direct. They have to get delivery right.
The last mile delivery experience is important
According to the survey, “[customers] are taking full advantage of social media to share their less impressive last mile delivery experiences, whether spurred by missing parcels, poor delivery tracking applications or the rigidity of timings or location once goods are in-fight–retailers who fail to get this right will pay a hefty price. A fully integrated last mile delivery and returns process is the holy grail to a profitable multi-channel business.”
So how do you fully integrate the last mile delivery and returns process, particularly when so many systems are involved in inventory management, fulfillment and delivery? The answer is to have a purpose-built Distributed Order Management System that seamlessly integrates with your existing systems, even replacing some of their functionality when appropriate.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, especially when marketplaces like Amazon guarantee two-day delivery, and even in some cases, one-day.
“Consumers want immediate access to the goods at their disposal – and this is often expected at little or no extra cost. Only 43% of shoppers are willing to pay a delivery charge, but of these, 48% deemed the capacity to reserve a specific delivery time is highly important.”
However, even with all the news of the store closings on High Street, physical stores still have an important role to play as part of a retailer’s fulfillment and delivery ecosystem. They provide a strategic advantage, especially with the 57% of customers who aren’t willing to pay for delivery. Consider for example, that “30% of consumers made their Black Friday and Christmas shopping purchases in-store. Convenience was the most cited reason (27%), perhaps enhanced by readily-available parking, or Click and Collect facilities. 18% of shoppers ventured in-store to try products on for size, with 25% later re-visiting to return items.”
Click and Collect customers may be willing to wait
Even with the rise of eCommerce, there are still sizable numbers of shoppers visiting High Street for a variety of reasons. One proven tactic that helps meet customer expectations and gets them into stores is Click and Collect. Another is the in-store return of online purchases. The data suggests that these methods result in more in-store sales rather than less. In fact, the study showed that consumers who collected their goods in-store were generally happy to wait longer for their stock to arrive at these collection points. In fact, 39% were willing to wait for two or three days rather than receive them on the same or next day following their purchase. Anything to avoid delivery fees.
If you haven’t already aligned your eCommerce and store fulfillment strategies for the holidays, the clock is ticking. This year’s Black Friday shoppers expect nothing less than instant gratification.