A negative doorstep experience could damage retail reputation
Written by David Upton, Managing Director of DA Systems Ltd
As online commerce continues to grow, more and more retailers are aware of the significance the experience their customers get when they take receipt of goods and the impact this can have on their own brands. This was one of the findings of the recent UK documentary ‘Dispatches’, by Channel 4, which exposed poor practices following undercover filming at a number of the UK’s largest delivery specialists.
Poor practices result in a negative online shopping outcome for some retailers who depend on third parties for their last-mile delivery solutions. Managing the doorstep experience is a big challenge for retailers, as they have very little knowledge of or control over the end result.
Traditional retail v doorstep delivery
Consider the following example to appreciate why the doorstep experience is so important: A consumer is seeking to buy an expensive sweater from an exclusive fashion retailer online as a gift. If they shopped in the retailer’s Bond Street store, they would experience the brand’s exclusivity first-hand, complete with scented tissue paper and a designer bag.
Online it’s a different story. Customers can order from a well built website and the same item is delivered to the doorstep. It is very quick and convenient, but instead of the manicured shop assistant and beautiful packaging, the recipient is greeted by an unkempt deliveryman carrying a damaged box. Maybe that sweater isn’t quite so posh now after all! The same brand, selling goods for the same price via two channels results in a very different end experience for the consumer.
The doorstep experience is one of the hardest aspects for retailers to perfect, primarily because last mile delivery is almost always subcontracted to a third party over which they have limited control. This final transaction is perhaps one of the most important and leaves a lasting memory for consumers. Retailers therefore need to examine their delivery partners’ processes and ensure the customer’s doorstep experience is in keeping with the expectations they have of their brand as a whole.
For e-retailers, doorstep experience is even more essential. Quite often the consumer’s only experience or physical contact when dealing with an e-retailer is when the item is delivered. If the user experience is good, they will buy again. If it is bad, it is the retailers’ reputation, not the parcel delivery company’s that is affected.
Getting the most from a logistics provider
When identifying parcel delivery specialists to partner with, retailers must consider how the companies responsible for delivering parcels can help maximise their doorstep experience by ensuring goods arrive in perfect condition, optimising the number of deliveries possible in the most efficient way.
The more deliveries a courier is able to make, the quicker customers can take receipt of parcels, without having to pay more for express delivery services.
In addition the best parcel delivery companies will offer value added services. For instance, do they have the ability to text a customer with an ETA of when to expect a delivery? Do they allow the customer to make changes to the delivery location? All these are important “value adds” that customers increasingly expect when buying online.
The most successful multichannel retailers have real-time mobile data software that underpins the efficiency of s daily deliveries from distribution centres right through to the doorstep. They use branded software to monitor items and capture real-time data like tracking where a parcel is in the delivery cycle and providing accurate data with real business and customer value. Working in this way, a retailer can ensure delivery windows for e-commerce orders are met, by setting pre-defined criteria that alert you to avoid breaches, so your customer service team can proactively respond. Finding a distribution partner that can offer you these benefits will improve the final doorstep experience, reinforcing the retail brand value and increasing the likelihood of repeat business.
About the author
David Upton is Managing Director of DA Systems Ltd, specialists in software solutions for couriers, parcel delivery specialists and retail distribution.
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.