The future of e-commerce delivery: why fulfilment is a key part of...

The future of e-commerce delivery: why fulfilment is a key part of today’s peak season equation

Patrick Gallagher
Patrick Gallagher is CEO of On the dot, a CitySprint brand

Over the last decade, the way people shop has changed dramatically. The birth of ecommerce and rise of the online marketplace have meant that shopping is now a 24/7 activity – and consumers expect flexibility and convenience as standard.

This year, more than three quarters (77%) of adults in the UK have purchased goods online and last year the UK surpassed the 1 billion deliveries mark for the first time. This is a figure that looks set to rise, especially given the approaching peak season – which saw 260 million parcels delivered last year.

Fulfilment as a differentiator

For retailers, delivery is now an integral part of getting peak season right. As the busy period approaches, offering convenient delivery options that match up to sleek online journeys is a crucial differentiator for brands of all shapes and sizes. What’s more, over-promising and failing to deliver is a no-go – at On the dot, we found that a huge 80% of shoppers will shy away from a paid-for, convenient delivery option a second time, if their first experience was a negative one.

With peak season just around the corner, logistics experts have a key role to play in helping retailers stand out from the crowd to both attract new, and retain existing customers. So, as we look to the future growth of the e-commerce sector, what should delivery partners focus on to ensure the best outcomes for both retail customers and end consumers?

  1. Put convenience first

Online shopping has transformed customer expectations and today the brands that offer customers convenient options, designed to make their lives easier, will be those that they are most attracted and loyal to. In fact, we found that customers value convenience so much that they’re willing to pay up to six times more for it.

Logistics partners are in prime position to help retailers, especially those operating online, deliver the level of convenience that customers crave. They can do this by offering a suite of convenient fulfilment options, ranging from same day to specified hour. During the competitive peak season retailers have a lot to play for – and working with a logistics partner to provide a delivery solution that saves the end-customer time and is convenient to them should be top of their to-do list. 

  1. Show that size is not a barrier

Some of the biggest national and international retail businesses, including the likes of Amazon and Argos, are already using delivery to edge ahead of competitors. Considering their established sales and distribution networks, as well as ample budgets and the infrastructure to take logistics operations in-house, it’s easy for smaller retailers to assume this is a privilege reserved solely for the industry giants.

This simply isn’t the case. Increasingly, smaller, independent retailers are using delivery to carve out a niche for themselves, and fight back against the retail titans. Thanks to the flexibility of nimble outsourcing companies and technology solutions – such as On the dot – we can easily work with retailers regardless of their size to ensure they’re playing on the same field.

  1. Make the most of new trends

Thanks to the ecommerce boom, shopping is now a 360o experience, and with customers and brands now in a constant dialogue, there is ample space for innovation.

One area of innovation is returns. In today’s customer-first world, many people intentionally shop with returns in mind, buying clothes in multiple sizes, and goods in multiple colours, safe in the knowledge that they can send back those they don’t want. This is particularly true when it comes to peak season – with unwanted Christmas gifts regularly being returned as early as Boxing Day.

Increasingly, logistics providers need to work with their retail partners to provide a full-circle offer which incorporates a slick, and efficient, returns process. For retailers, not having a returns service could be critical when it comes to stocking shelves ready for the January sales. With this in mind, the delivery industry needs to prepare itself for a Christmas of two peaks this year, ensuring that returns are successfully fed back into the supply chain to keep the retail customers’ shopping cycles running.

The future of fulfilment

As we look to peak season and beyond, logistics providers need to ensure they are working closely with retail partners to provide customers with a delivery service that seamlessly fits into their everyday lives. With smart planning and technology at the forefront, logistics partners can help retailers of any size and stature make sure they’re stealing a march on competitors and truly standing out from the crowd.