Trucks at Work
Walmart Photo courtesy of: Walmart

Truckers take note: Proactive delivery becoming key for consumers

A new survey of retail customer shipment expectations finds price and “promise-by” dates are becoming more critical.

I’ve discussed in this space before how “fast yet free” is the mantra of most consumers today when it comes to ordering goods online, though that isn’t exactly a trend that is favorable to truckers, especially the “free” part.

Now, according to a new survey of 1,500 shoppers by cloud-based delivery management platform provider Convey, that “free yet faster” demand is sharpening further into what the company calls “proactive delivery,” whereby consumers expect the shippers – not the carriers, surprisingly – of their goods to be more directly engaged regarding transportation issues; especially in terms of compensation when there are problems.

“Despite the best efforts of retailers to fulfill customer delivery demands, shoppers still perceive the delivery experience to be mediocre at best,” noted Rob Taylor, CEO of Convey. “In our recent survey, shoppers were clear: while free and fast shipping are still table stakes, promise-by dates and the way a retailer handles on-going issues are equally important. With half of all shoppers experiencing at least one issue per year, retailers must take an active role to control the outcome of deliveries during the busy holiday season.”

He added that 40% of the consumers participating in this survey – dubbed The Modern Customer Delivery Imperative – said that delivery is “the single most decisive factor” of the shopping experience, identifying in particular the importance of date commitments to the delivery experience, the need for retailers to provide proactive shipment updates, and the expectation that retailers will resolve shipping issues (as opposed to carriers) and provide more convenient customer self-service options, as top priorities.

When asked to choose the most important delivery factor during the holiday season, 29% of respondents prefer a specific promise date and 23% select a delivery date range, though – perhaps surprising no one – cost of delivery remains the main concern, cited by 33% of those polled.

In addition, shoppers expect retailers to make a commitment and keep it, Convey found, with over 95% of those shoppers polled expecting retailers to proactively respond if a carrier’s estimated delivery date changes while a shipment is in transit – and more than 90% expect some form of action or compensation for missed promise-by dates. Preferred responses to a missed promise date, by the by, include: refund of shipping costs (50%), discount for a future purchase (19%), expedited shipping for a replacement product (10%), and expedited shipping for a future purchase (10%).

On top of that, 93% of shoppers responding to Convey’s survey also noted “loud and clear” that they expect to receive proactive shipment updates. When a delivery exception occurs, 41% of shoppers want to be notified immediately, preferring e-mail notifications (50%) to phone calls (12%), tracking page updates (8%), and Facebook notifications (1%). Only 7% prefer no contact at all, the company found.

Regardless of whatever the issue at hand, though, 97.5% of shoppers want to self-serve or interact with a retailer directly to resolve delivery issues, with those aged 18-34 being 35% more likely to prefer options such as pick-up lockers and holding a shipment at a terminal.

That’s all just another remainder how e-commerce continues to upend traditional transportation patterns as it creates more real-time demand and expectations among consumers.

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