Although the online shopping surge this year has been good news for online retailers, it is not without its challenges. Ironically, it took a pandemic for many online retailers to realize the importance of meeting increased customer expectations around the delivery experience. The market has likely changed for good, as retailers are realizing that their customers are demanding more control through choice and convenience.
Before the pandemic, online shopping was forecast to make up 16-18% of Australia’s total retail spend by 2025. The updated forecast is now 15% by the end of 2020, according to the Inside Australian Online Shopping 2020 E-commerce Industry Report from Australia Post. In the past six months, online retailers have had to efficiently deliver a higher volume of purchases – a service customers expect – when government restrictions have impacted the speed and ability to deliver, and may continue to do so in the future. This is occurring at a time when there is clear demand for additional delivery choices and services.
These challenges are likely to continue as long as the growing demand for online purchases continues. Online retailers will need to keep exploring and finding innovative solutions to improve the delivery experience for customers. In fact, recent research by Hubbed has revealed that online shopping has led to consumers wanting more control and flexibility of their deliveries. For instance, 54% of Australian online shoppers want retailers to deliver parcels to a location that is open after hours, for easier collection. Furthermore, 50% of shoppers want retailers to consolidate deliveries from a single order in one shipment, rather than dispatching in multiple shipments, also to provide sustainable outcomes.
Our results reveal that the areas of customer service that are important to consumers include the range of delivery options available, the ease with which they navigate their shopping portals, and the range of environmentally friendly delivery options available to them. I strongly recommend retailers and delivery companies begin to look for ways to seriously improve customer expectations in these areas, such as supporting the use of click and collect models. In fact, according to the 2020 State of Ecommerce report, among the top 100 online retailers in Australia, 52% offer a click and collect service whereas only 25% outside of the top 100 do.
We know from the research that security, reliability and sustainability in delivery are key motivators for most shoppers. This is where Hubbed’s Click & Collect e-commerce plug-ins are crucial. The plug-ins are optimized for Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and Neto, allowing retailers to include click and collect from their shopping carts with no need to change current carriers. This gives customers greater control and choice of deliveries, and access to more than 2,000 collection points, many of which are open 24/7 with plenty of parking.
This brings me to the importance of parcel pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) networks. These enable retailers to keep up with online demand by offering consumers more flexible, alternative delivery options. For example, using the Hubbed network, customer parcels can be dropped off at a local retail outlet, such as a BP service station or 7-Eleven store, which allows for secure parking, after-hours access and no queues. This level of convenience enhances not only the consumer’s online shopping experience but also their purchasing experience with a specific retailer, which, in turn, helps motivate them to continue purchasing online.
With customers more sensitive to the online shopping experience than they have ever been, online retailers and other e-commerce providers increasingly understand that having a great website is not enough. As we shift further online, retailers must seek to improve the customer experience all the way through the purchase journey. Ultimately, offering alternative delivery options, such as click and collect, could be the game-changer for retailers to better support online demand for the foreseeable future.
David McLean is CEO and founder of Hubbed, an Australian-owned provider of PUDO networks and parcel management solutions for the e-commerce industry