Report by Mats Fischerström.
65 per cent of all Swedish people have ordered something online at some point during the last month, according to Postnord’s e-barometer. As consumers, we no longer have to worry about whether the shops are open or whether there are going to be enough parking spaces, but we have quickly grown accustomed to being able to shop whenever and wherever we want.
We expect to be able to decide for ourselves whether we want to shop using a credit card, using direct transfer, or by invoice, and we also think it is self-evident that our card details should already be known by the merchant so that we can quickly buy something while boarding an underground train. But we are not as spoiled when it comes to choosing how to get our purchases delivered. We still queue up at a parcel delivery desk in some local tobacconist in order to collect the kids’ new rainwear, or are forced to work from home the whole day waiting for the new washing machine to finally turn up. Some of us have also driven around in the car on a remote industrial estate because the new exercise bike has to be collected from the carrier’s terminal. We would have actually preferred to collect the rainwear from the kiosk by the preschool. And, of course, it would have been convenient if those three pairs of shoes I bought in the sale arrived at the door at home shortly after I put the kids to bed. And surely it would be practical if the package I didn’t have time collect on my way home from work could be sent home instead?
Just to give customers what they want, right?
According to the above-mentioned e-barometer, four out of five online shoppers consider it important to be able to choose how their goods should be delivered. A large number of people have also at some point chosen not to make a purchase because the online retailer was not able to deliver in the way the consumer wanted. Since customers obviously want to be able to decide more over their deliveries and the customer is always right, the online retailer just needs to give the customers what they want, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. For an online retailer to be able to offer its customers several different delivery options, first of all, system connections to a number of different carriers are required.
System integration is the key
Most online retailers have already solved this by using one of the various Delivery Management systems available on the market, or as they are also known, TA systems. By using a Delivery Management system, the online retailer is automatically connected to the various carriers and does not have to worry about keeping shipping labels and EDIFACT files up-to-date since the system takes care of this. Staff working with picking and unloading usually use a Delivery Management system in order to ensure that the customer’s goods are dispatched. However, for the customer to be able to choose for the rainwear to arrive at the delivery point by the preschool, for example, it is not enough for the warehouse staff to have full control over the transport booking. The e-commerce platform must also know about all of the available delivery points, and all of the different delivery windows for home delivery, etc. And the delivery point chosen by the customer must then be transferred to the system in use at the warehouse so that the correct information will be printed on the shipping label and sent to the carrier.
With the right system solution, even small online retailers can offer delivery options
For the entire information chain to be connected from the e-commerce checkout to the goods unloading, a fully integrated flow is required. For the large online retailers who have their own development departments, it is usually possible to implement in-house developed solutions – even if it involves large maintenance costs in the long run – but for the small and medium-sized online retailers it is often too expensive to build up the entire flow around delivery options. And at the same rate as logistics suppliers appear on the market, the online retailer will get weighed down with complicated and costly system maintenance in order to allow it to meet the increasing demands of its customers. So how should the online retailer who is struggling with small margins and a limited IT budget cope when customers are calling out for more and better delivery options? By choosing a system solution that makes it easy to configure which delivery options to offer to customers, while at the same time ensuring that all information is included from checkout to unloading. And when it becomes possible to offer a new delivery option through simple configuration, there is even no need to add IT into the equation.
When customers feel that they can control when and how they take delivery of the goods in the same clear-cut way as they can control when and how they shop, they will become more satisfied. In turn, this means that more people will click on the “Complete purchase” button and come back to buy more next time.