Online shopping provides a huge opportunity for retailers, but also spells a shift in what customers want. The seamless delivery of goods is going to become increasingly important as customers want complete control over when and where they pick up a parcel.
Market leaders are already changing the definition of what next day delivery means by offering later and later cut off times. The consumer demand and expectation for time specific delivery is not about to slow down and online retailers who streamline their next day delivery service will be best placed to compete in that space. Unless retailers think about how this will impact the way they and their postal carriers operate, they risk falling behind and losing out to competitors.
The waiting game is over
Nowadays, retailers need to provide a multi-channel shopping experience and deliver items without a glitch. The explosion of mobile devices means that customers no longer want to wait for anything. They expect to be able to purchase whatever they want, whenever they want, and have it delivered where and when they want.
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In fact a recent Royal Mail report, entitled Delivery Matters, found that 66% of online shoppers say that delivery ratings are highly or quite influential on their purchase decision. So if a purchase takes longer than anticipated to arrive, or doesn’t arrive at all, a customer is going to become extremely frustrated. A missing parcel could even spell the difference between losing and retaining a customer.
An old problem
A big challenge for parcel carriers is that many have built their businesses around in-house legacy IT infrastructures rather than the latest, innovative technology that would enable them to deliver what customers want. Ancient, power guzzling solutions and creaking real estate are no longer fit for purpose as users become ever more demanding. As a result many are struggling to meet retailers’ (and consumers’) demands in terms of where, when and how they want to receive their purchases.
For retailers to capitalise on the continued growth of online sales, it is essential that they choose to work with carriers that are able to offer the range of services that will meet customers’ modern demands. The problem is that not every carrier can afford the time or money is takes to design and put in place a new IT system.
Cloud is the key
Luckily, cloud technology is here to revolutionise the way things are done. With the cloud, carriers are able to upgrade their technology without incurring hefty upfront charges and there is no hardware, software or structured licensing models. Requirements can be adjusted to suit the needs of the business as cloud opens up a whole variety of options.
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Large leaps in capability can be achieved with smaller amounts of in-house effort versus traditional build in-house solutions. Cloud has a way of opening up opportunities for the business, of freeing the company to dream up new products and services, innovate on existing offerings, and lower the cost of experimentation. In short, retailers and carriers alike cannot afford to turn their backs on cloud computing as it represents a key tool in the race for competitive advantage.
Over the next 12 months, the way in which online retailers optimise their delivery service and are able to seamlessly integrate their ecommerce applications with their carrier will become a key differentiator. The latest IMRG figures indicate that in the UK alone, 940 million parcels will be despatched in 2014, up 19% on the previous year. Carriers must ensure that they have systems in place that enable them to deliver what customers want.
Sourced from Becky Clark, CEO of NetDespatch