Today’s shoppers have never had it so good; a massive selection of great value products, which can be ordered and delivered wherever and whenever they want.

When we’ve been shopping online, we expect to be kept informed of the status of our order from the moment it leaves the retailer’s warehouse to the moment it arrives at our front door or collection point- and yet we don’t expect to pay anything extra for this.

From a retailer’s perspective this is an extremely expensive and logistically challenging process.

As competitors try to use every tool available to them to make the purchase journey as convenient as possible, customer expectations continue to spiral. This in turn, is making it even tougher for retailers to keep up with these fulfilment developments, whilst also making a profit.

High street retailers are investing millions into fulfilment services that allow them to offer their shoppers an omni-channel shopping experience and keep ahead of the competition.

These new fulfilment services don’t come without problems. Often services are add-ons or hosted by a third party which gives the retailer less control, generating a greater risk of mistakes.

With the process proving costly to retailers, shoppers are starting to come across additional fees and charges. An example of this is John Lewis who recently introduced a £2 fee for customers who click and collect on orders that cost less than £30.

A review by our research partner, Trinity McQueen, suggests that over 80% of customers who have had a bad fulfilment experience say it changed their perceptions of that brand for the worse. Shoppers are also more likely to abandon their online purchase if they feel delivery charges are too high, resulting in them being more likely to buy the goods elsewhere.

Research Highlights:

  • 52% of customers blame the retailer either in part or in full when something goes wrong with their delivery
  • Over 80% of customers who have had a bad experience say it negatively impacts their perceptions of the retailer
  • Over 60% of customers say a bad delivery or click and collect experience makes them less likely to shop at that store in future.
  • 68% of customers have shared poor delivery service in conversation, online or social media
  • 27% of customers have shared poor click and collect service in conversation, online or social
  • 33% of those who abandoned their online shopping part way through the process stated the cost of delivery as the reason
  • Free delivery is by far the biggest preference with 62% stating they would opt for this over other options

Retailers need to think carefully about the implications of delivery fees. Simply passing their costs directly onto their shopper may create a compelling reason to look elsewhere, price compare and possibly purchase from the competition.

In an ever more digital world, retail brands need to continue to invest in fulfilment to meet shopper expectations but not at the risk of damaging longstanding relationships with their customers.