“I’d do more online shopping if only I had a working doorbell,” quipped comedian David Mitchell recently. Indeed, it is laughable that trivial issues like this can scupper what should be a straightforward process of receiving goods ordered online.
The e-fulfilment industry is well aware of this, and few logistics professionals are amused by the fact that the ‘last mile’ element of the home delivery model can amount to 50% of the total logistics cost¹. The customer experience at this vital touchpoint is no laughing matter either. A recent survey by Direct Line Home Insurance calculated that over £250m worth of online shopping had failed to reach UK customers in the last year².
Challenges (apart from broken door bells) include traffic congestion, overstretched delivery drivers, incorrect address labels, hard to find addresses, and of course no-one being at home. This all amounts to big practical - and cost - issues that need to be overcome. Thankfully we’re making headway with parcel tracking, SMS communication with customers, Click & Collect services, pick-up lockers, and designated delivery slots.
Can we say that anyone in retail has mastered the practical side of e-fulfilment yet? Not just delivery, but returns and all the challenges of joined-up, multichannel customer service and stock visibility too? Well the truth is there’s so much to learn in this frustratingly complex business, that very few ecommerce and multichannel retailers have cracked the lot. Plenty have perfection in their sights though.
A recent research report, IREU Top 500, has analysed the European market using six Performance Dimensions to pinpoint which ecommerce players across Europe are leading the field, and which are trailing. You’ll need to read the report for all the in-depth insights, but what I can quickly tell you now is that those retailers who score highest in the Operations and Logistics Dimension include the likes of Interflora, Apple, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco and Carrefour.
What are they doing so well? Interflora offers a delivery service that crosses Europe and provides a fast, efficient, personal service. Apple boasts a service for deliveries and returns that is unparalleled. For instance, it offers delivery for free in seven EEA countries and customers can specify the date and time their product arrives. The UK supermarkets are excelling in Europe, offering outstanding options including next day one hour delivery slots, at low prices. These companies, often working closely with highly innovative fulfilment and delivery partners, are setting standards for the industry to aspire to.