Why supply chain logistics are key to meeting customer demands…

Are you inspiring consumer loyalty?

What do consumers want? Having previously commissioned research to identify the top challenges facing internet retailers, we thought it would be interesting to explore the other side of the story – to understand whether internet retailers are meeting consumer expectations.

As consumers, we’ve relied on internet retail over the past year more than ever before, and as online spending shows no signs of slowing, now is a crucial time to better understand buying behaviours and changing expectations. We surveyed 1,500 consumers to identify their pain points throughout the online shopping process and found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that 64% have increased the amount they buy online since the beginning of the pandemic, with almost a quarter (24%) spending £100 more.

Here’s a summary of our key findings and what learnings we can take.

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Delivery and returns policies are a crucial part of the buying decision

Not only are consumers loyal to a small number of retailers, but they also choose who they shop with depending on delivery and returns policies.

Long delivery times were identified as the top frustration when buying products online (50%), followed by paying for returns (42%). In fact, over a third of respondents said they would rather purchase from a different retailer than wait a long time for delivery!

Similarly, 91% of respondents said they consider a retailer’s returns policy before making a purchase, and 73% said that paying for returns would discourage them from buying with a particular retailer.

Fast, free and easy delivery and returns processes are crucial to attract and retain loyal customers. Consider optimising your supply chain, distribution and logistics processes with more automation and smart warehouse solutions. Even incremental changes can make a big improvement.

Fast refunds required

High consumer expectations also extend to refunds. Although government guidelines state that refunds should be made within 14 days of receiving goods back, just 4% of our respondents believe it’s acceptable for a refund to take more than five days. In fact, almost one fifth (18%) expect to receive a refund from a returned order within 24 hours, and a further 32% within 48 hours.

What can we do about it?

Although consumer expectations differ somewhat to current guidelines, to remain competitive, the reverse logistics process must be as quick and efficient as possible. Consider integrating your order management system and ERP with warehouse execution solutions to automate, scale and speed up the process.

Order errors are much more common than you think

Almost half (47%) of respondents said they’d received an online order in error, and almost three quarters of those said this was on more than one occasion – receiving up to three incorrect parcels in the past year.

Improve the accuracy of picking and packing processes in the warehouse. If this means investing in new tech, you’ll soon make your money back. We estimated that order errors cost UK retailers and average of £951m* each year!

Sustainability is becoming more important

Our survey found that consumers would be willing to compromise their high expectations for a greener service – 32% said they would be happy to pay for delivery or incur a longer delivery time if their parcel arrived in a combined delivery with other orders. Respondents would also like to see online retailers use less packaging (44%) or paper-based packaging (39%). 28% said they would be willing to pay for greener packaging.

Dedicate sufficient resource to research and implement sustainability initiatives – from using recycled packaging to swapping to a greener 3PL or investing in a fleet of electric vehicles. Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, with many choosing their preferred brands according to their green credentials.

Find out what consumers want here
Consumer Research Infographic

What do you think?

Are you forecasting correctly accurately to ensure your supply chain, distribution and logistics are able to cope with these increasing volumes? Have you got the right technology in place to reduce errors?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the findings in this recent survey or if you have further questions on how automation can help streamline your operations, we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can support your business.

Would you like to speak with one of our team?

Simply call 01925 742888 or contact us through the link below and we’ll get straight back to you.

Let's Talk