The news that Next has been criticised for failing to refund delivery charges after customers returned products highlights the challenge that multichannel retailers face as part of the ‘final mile’ of a purchase.
Etail trade body IMRG regularly hears tales of woe from consumers who’ve bought goods online, only to be informed their items are out of stock. Meanwhile, ‘carded’ deliveries - where the first attempt to deliver has failed - are equally frustrating to shoppers.
Against this background, a worrying disparity is emerging between customers’ expectations of the ‘final mile’ element and retailers’ plans for investment.
Delivery firm DHL recently commissioned a piece of research, including insight from IMRG, to support a new report, Multi-Channel Matters: a route to next generation retailing. The report’s message is clear - retailers need to test effectiveness in providing fulfilment and returns services.
The advice is thrown into sharp relief by the report’s findings. While 45% of retailers identify stock availability as a serious issue, just 24% have concentrated investment in this area.
DHL also carried out a mystery shop exercise looking at delivery charges. On average, fashion retailers charge 50% more than their department store or electrical counterparts for standard delivery (£4.22 versus £2.83).
IMRG has been working with retailers and delivery providers to drive customer service improvements in this area. Our IDIS (Internet Delivery is Safe) Gold Standard was launched this year and to achieve it, retailers must offer the probability of 100% first-time delivery success and high standards of order fulfilment and home delivery.
Successful delivery first time, every time. Doesn’t that sound nice? Now we need to make it a reality.
David Smith is managing director of etail trade body IMRG