Delivering a stand-out experience with every online interaction will increase customer loyalty over time, according to research from MetaPack. If retailers and brands understand the importance of getting the basics right, enabling customers to curate their own deliveries, and have their requirements met rapidly and to specific requirements, they study suggests that customers will reward them with long-term commitment and repeat orders. This article is copyright 2019 The Best Customer Guide.

The '2018 State of eCommerce Delivery Consumer Research Report' showed that, against the backdrop of struggling sales on the high street, the experiences that e-commerce retailers and brands can uniquely provide are helping them to stay ahead in the race for customer allegiance. The research, which was carried out online in July 2018 with 3597 consumers of all ages in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US, also examines how the delivery choices shoppers encounter influence the purchasing decisions they make.

Among the key findings from the study:

  • 75% of consumers have purchased more items to take advantage of a minimum spend 'free delivery' option
  • 61% of consumers say a positive delivery experience incentivises them to shop with an e-commerce retailer again
  • 49% of shoppers would prioritise shopping with one online provider over another if it offered a loyalty programme featuring free next day delivery
  • 44% of consumers are tempted to try out new delivery options to take advantage of collection from a local pick-up point
  • 54% now say that it is somewhat, or very important, they're able to choose which carrier delivers their online purchases
  • 77% of consumers are conscious of, or care deeply about the environment when thinking about how they receive their deliveries
  • 78% of shoppers have purchased from a luxury brand in the last 12 months

Getting the basics right reaps dividends
Most consumers now expect free delivery for their everyday purchases, and many identify slow delivery as a negative delivery experience. Retailers and brands who get the fundamentals right every time are giving themselves a competitive advantage:

  • 62% of shoppers said free delivery is the top consideration for the majority of purchases they make and 49% don't expect to pay for standard delivery any longer
  • 70% of online consumers are prepared to pay extra to ensure speed and convenience, such as one-hour, same day or Sunday delivery
  • 82% of US shoppers had purchased more goods to take advantage of free delivery
  • 81% of Canadian and French shoppers and 80% of UK shoppers said free delivery would incentivise them to buy more online during peak sales such as Black Friday

Shopping across borders
International e-commerce has never been so popular, with shrewd consumers taking advantage of currency fluctuations to secure great deals on overseas brands. Retailers must ensure they can step up to the demands that shoppers make for superior cross-border services, including transparency over delivery costs:

  • 49% of this year's respondents had made between one and five overseas purchases
  • The top barriers to cross-border shopping are expensive delivery (45%), slow delivery (28%) and having to pay for delivery (25%)
  • North American shoppers are most diligent about extra charges with 83% of US and 80% of Canadian consumers checking if these will be applied to the goods they order, but French (43%), German (38%) and Dutch (38%) are most likely to abandon their basket if there is an unexpected charge for taxes

Why customers come back again and again
The research suggests that delivery loyalty programmes are proving able to hold strong consumer appeal, with nearly half (49%) saying that they would prioritise one e-commerce provider over another because of its loyalty programme, and 65% would be interested in a loyalty programme where multiple brands and retailers worked together to offer a premium delivery service, with 73% of Spanish and 74% of US consumers favouring the idea. At the same time, 25% of shoppers said they were planning to join a delivery loyalty programme in the coming year.

Eco-conscious delivery is on the rise
Green issues are becoming more prevalent amongst consumers and the impact of online deliveries on the environment is not going unnoticed. Retailers can offer real differentiation if they provide eco-friendly delivery options such as consolidated delivery.

  • 26% care a great deal about how their online deliveries are contributing to increased carbon emissions and traffic congestion. US consumers (41%) in particular cited this as a concern
  • The number of consumers that are conscious of the issue is rising, from 47% in 2017 up to 51% this year, most notably in France (62%), the Netherlands (60%) and Germany (56%)
  • When asked why they preferred a consolidated delivery option, i.e. having all their items delivered at once, over a third (35%) said it was because multiple deliveries made them concerned about the environment.

Going up-scale
Luxury brands are grasping the online opportunity and satisfying the aspirations of digital consumers. This means differentiating their delivery options and providing a premium delivery experience, whether that's offering a two-hour delivery option or a same-day concierge service:

  • US shoppers were the most likely to engage with luxury brands online with 91% making online purchases in the last 12 month
  • Spanish (89%), French (88%) and German (86%) are also enthusiastic luxury brand purchasers, but in the UK this number drops to 76% and even lower for consumers in the Netherlands at 40%

Carrier control
Given that consumers want choice in all aspects of their online purchasing experience, it makes sense that this now extends to being able to choose the carrier that is entrusted to deliver their goods. Some 41% of shoppers said the freedom to choose a last-mile carrier is very or somewhat important to them. This was extremely important to US (31%) shoppers, but less so for the Netherlands (5%) and UK (11%).

The full report has been made available for free download from MetaPack's web site, here: (free registration required).