By David Senior, Sector Director – Retail EMEA, OpenMarket for My Logistics Magazine
There’s no doubt that consumers are opting increasingly more to do their shopping online – this year’s Black Friday provided significant anecdotal evidence of the fact. This trend is set to continue with an 18.6% increase in online spending expected in the next year taking the total to £156.67 billion in the UK alone. But any discussion on the numbers needs to take into consideration the rising expectations of consumers for a seamless experience from browsing to payment, to delivery. This is easier said than done.
One consequence of more people shopping online is that packages being delivered are left waiting outside homes and offices when no one is in. This is a disaster waiting to happen with deliveries being stolen from doorsteps by opportunist thieves becoming a common occurrence. This would be frustrating at the best of times, but around the holidays even more so, as the gifts thoughtfully chosen for friends and loved ones are lost. At the same time, stolen deliveries bear a significant cost to both consumers and businesses, which might be culpable for these lost items. It’s also not just the financial implications of a stolen delivery that needs to be considered, it’s the reputational damage too.
A successful e-commerce strategy is a proactive strategy. Businesses need to plan their operations in a way that accounts for the specific challenges created by eCommerce and prevents delivery theft as well as the more common occurrence of missed deliveries. It’s in retailers’ best interests to that each and every delivery makes it to the customer’s hands, safely and in good time. The key to this is effective and regular customer communication. There are many different options but only one tool that is universal and ubiquitous enough to reach the increasing number of e-commerce consumers, and that is SMS.
A simple SMS can mean the difference between a parcel arriving or not. The delivery firm or retailer simply texts the consumer when the parcel is near or with a delivery window and the consumer can in turn confirm receipt or reschedule. The beauty of SMS is this can be done wherever the consumer is, quickly and easily. What’s more, it’s an option available to all consumers with a mobile phone, not just those with smartphones, which have been used by brands to communicate via email or apps.
In fact, according to an eDigital Reasearch survey commissioned by OpenMarket, consumers have expressed their preference for SMS when it comes to time sensitive communication. When it comes to communications like delivery updates, consumers have expressed a clear preference for text messaging, with more than half of all those surveyed preferring this option. At the same time, 85 per cent of respondents said that unopened text messages would be prioritised over emails whose open rates for the retail sector currently stand at 23.6%, as well as push notifications from apps.
Stolen or missed deliveries cost companies not only financially but can also really damage the reputation of a brand. Online shopping should be synonymous with ‘convenience’, but if deliveries never reach the hands of the consumer or the customer spends all their time chasing stolen, missed or late parcels, then that clearly defeats the objective. Customers expect their experience to be consistently high, from the moment they purchase a product until the moment it is safely delivered to them. Making sure that the customer is aware when their parcel is due to arrive, providing the option to reschedule delivery at their leisure and arranging collections when necessary. This increases customer satisfaction and ensures a much better overall experience. For brands that get SMS right, success and consumer satisfaction is just a text away.