by Alex Buckley, General Manager at DispatchTrack for EMEA and APAC operations.
Recent reports have shown the global 3PL and logistics sectors are going to continue to grow over the course of the next several years. Much of this growth can be attributed to the continued rise of ecommerce and the increasing order volumes that come with it, but there is also another reason that is responsible for some of this projected growth: the ability of logistics providers and 3PL’s to add value for their clients in the form of elevated customer experiences.
It is hard to overstate how important this kind of value-add can be when businesses are outsourcing their logistics. New data shows that on-time delivery performance and clear, transparent communications are more important to customers than ever, something that modern 3PL’s are uniquely able to provide, assuming they have the right processes and tools in place.
How Important Is Transparency in Home Delivery?
A newly released DispatchTrack report showed how quickly consumer sentiments are shifting when it comes to successful deliveries. (The data here is from US consumers, but US data on consumer sentiments often foreshadows trends here in the UK). Two-thirds of consumers considered “on-time” delivery (not late and, crucially, not early) the best aspect of a positive delivery experience. Meanwhile, 60% of consumers said they would not hesitate to abandon a business if a delivery does not arrive within the scheduled window.
Transparency is also a must—as evidenced by the fact that 90% of consumers report wanting to be able to track their orders. But despite these strong consumer desires for transparency and timeliness, frequent late deliveries and a dearth of communication continue to frustrate consumers. Perhaps that’s part of the reason that IMRG’s most recent Consumer Home Delivery Review showed that 50% of UK consumers were willing to abandon a shopping cart if they weren’t presented with delivery options that suited their needs.
How Can 3PLs Provide Great Delivery Experiences?
These are exactly the kind of statistics that makes retailers leery of relying on 3PLs in the first place. When providing stellar experiences to customers throughout the entire delivery process is non-negotiable, it can be nerve-wracking to let a third party take charge of your brand image. But when 3PLs are empowered with data visibility and connectivity with their clients’ systems they can offer a huge boost to a given brand by delighting customers and making good on delivery promises.
The trick here is to follow best practices that reflect real-world consumer preferences;
- Offer real-time tracking: no matter the industry, customers want to know when their order is due to be delivered and where the driver is along their route.
- Communicate early and often: proactive texts, emails, and calls also help provide transparency and decrease the odds of a failed delivery.
- Provide sustainable options: Customers have shown a willingness to adjust their behaviour if they know it will help the environment, and many will choose greener deliveries if given the choice. This can have a positive impact on brand loyalty and make it easier to go green.
- Leverage AI and machine learning to improve your predictions: On-time delivery is everything—but estimating arrival times with legacy processes is dicey. AI can help you precisely predict arrival times during the delivery planning stage, then generate live updates as delivery data comes in.
There is no doubt that all of this requires close integration between client systems and 3PL software but when you can achieve that, the results are powerful: customers experience less delivery frustration, and both the retailers and the logistics providers get a boost to their reputations.
Sustainability: The Next Frontier in Customer Expectations
Studies show that 60% of UK consumers are trying to get better educated on how their decisions impact sustainability. That is in line with DispatchTrack’s research of consumers in the US, 70% of whom would focus more on sustainability if sellers made it easier for them to do so. This has huge implications for third party deliveries. Retailers who put an emphasis on going green and who want to incorporate sustainability into their brand are more likely to partner with logistics providers that are also focusing on being sustainable and reducing carbon emissions.
This is going to be one of the most important aspects of the customer experience going forward. As the UK works to transform its last mile logistics sector to become more sustainable, retailers and end-customers alike are going to expect sustainability to be a major factor in what 3PLs offer. For logistics providers who can make that happen, all while ensuring right-time deliveries every time, the sky’s the limit.
For more information, please visit www.dispatchtrack.com