The eDelivery Expo took place last month and it was interesting to see how the whole ecommerce market has moved on in so many aspects, such as the use of AI, drone delivery services, and big data and so on. And yet it has stayed the same in many other ways, such as how parcels are physically delivered. Sure, there are now multiple delivery locations available for consumers to choose from rather than just having your parcel delivered to the home or to work but the general concept i.e. a driver and a location has pretty much stayed the same. Put it this way: we are not opening the door to drones or robots quite yet.
So that said, what were the key takeaways from the conference?
Adopting hyper-personalised conversations with customers
There are advancements in how both retailers and carriers are now looking to optimise their digital and mobile strategies to deliver more insights around consumer demands. In many respects the eDelivery conference highlighted to me the importance of adopting hyper-personalised conversations with customers in order to really understand their needs. It was also interesting to understand the types of technologies retailers would invest in if time and money were no issue.
Today, we live in a world where we have so much data at our fingertips that sometimes we are in danger of overwhelming consumers with too much information. For example, I get text messages telling me that my parcel has been picked and packed, then another to tell me that it has left the depot, then another to tell me it is on its way, then yet another with the name of my driver and so on. Sometimes this can feel like information overload and too much detail – quite frankly I just need to know that my parcel has shipped and the day that I can expect to receive it.
But are we listening to consumers?
That said, I could be in the minority. Because we live in a constantly connected and always-on world this means that every day our customers are telling us what they want, what’s important to them, and where retailers and carriers should be focusing their time and resources – but often we are guilty of not listening. If we want to truly delight our customers we need to spend a bit more time listening and understanding their needs rather than telling them what we think they want to know, for example the anecdote I gave above about all the shipping intel I receive but never read.
Last year at NetDespatch we ran a survey which asked consumers what they love about online shopping and what they hate about it. Not surprisingly when we asked them what they loved, convenience and being able to buy what they want, when they wanted, at whatever time of day really stood out. When we asked them what they hated, then returning parcels was their biggest bugbear. That’s because with some retailers and carriers it can still feel like a relatively manual process which can involve form filling, call-outs to the carrier and be labour intensive and tedious to say the least. Never more so when you consider that today we live on our mobiles and the swipe of the touchpad is so easy, therefore having to go to great lengths to return a parcel can seem very old fashioned.
Don’t underestimate the importance of mobile
To this point, and according to the comScore 2017 “Global Digital Future in Focus” study, “mobile-only” users continue to rise. 30 percent of users in almost half of the markets studied by comScore in 2017 now have a mobile only strategy and the size of mobile audiences grew almost universally. Mobile is important because just about everyone in the world had a mobile device as of 2016. About half of those devices were smartphones — the fastest-selling gadget in the history of gadgets and, by the year 2020, about 80 percent of the adult population will own one. So making sure that the return of a parcel can be done seamlessly via the mobile is going to be vitally important going forward.
Demand for home delivery services from supermarkets
Likewise home delivery services for supermarket shopping is going to continue to be in demand. I read recently that Walmart intends to expand its grocery home delivery services to reach more than 40 percent of U.S. households, or 100 metro areas from an existing six, as the retailer steps up its fight against rival Amazon. The extra cost may hit Walmart’s bottom line, but increased spending on food and household goods delivery is seen as essential in the fierce battle for online orders for food and household staples. Walmart expects the service to be rolled out by the end of the year and companies like Uber are expected to provide transport with other carrier companies being added later this year. The move allows Walmart to compete with Amazon’s two-hour Prime Now service for shoppers of its loyalty program. The expanded service should help the retailer to get more of its store shoppers to buy items online, where they spend twice as much.
It will be interesting to see how these trends continue to unfold in 2018 and beyond. One thing for sure is that Ecommerce and Edelivery sees no signs of slowing down and making sure that you streamline every aspect of your service so that parcels fly out the door is absolutely critical to delighting customers. So if you didn’t manage to attend the event this year, make sure eDelivery Expo is in your calendar in 2019!