Why Don't Retailers Differentiate Their Brands On Delivery?

Retail brands are always looking for a way to differentiate themselves that can be marketed to the online public, so how about using delivery? It has always surprised me that the company that is going to ship your goods and the person who is going to ring the doorbell is always a mystery until the last minute. Why not make it a point of difference?

It would be incredibly simple to do and might well steer new sales by either offering or telling the public about the great company you use -- or even better, offering a choice. It always seems to be a retailer's little secret, but if they were to choose a courier with the best service on offer, why not shout about it. Why not make it a selling point? Why not point out the name of the company that will be delivering the goods and the level of tracking and interaction they offer? If you have chosen wisely, why not tell the public rather than let them groan when they see a box shifter with a terrible name has been entrusted with getting their nephew's birthday present delivered in time for the weekend.

It's a point worth making because as an infographic into Christmas shopping by mobile solutions company Somo makes clear, a third of shoppers had delivery problems in the run-up to Christmas, and of those one in three, half swear they were in when a courier claims to have attempted delivery. This is my biggest bug bear. When you call to say a delivery hasn't been made, a courier company will swear blind they attempted it as agreed. If they have left a slip on the doormat, they would have rung the doorbell, they claim. Truth is, they often haven't bothered leaving a note -- and if they have, someone like me who works from home with a dog who barks at the slightest provocation would never have missed it. So that statistic of half of those with delivery issues being at home when an attempt to deliver was "missed" is very reassuring that it isn't only me. 

What I'm getting at here is that while whoever meets and greets shoppers or clients at the front of your business is the first person people will base their opinion of you, the delivery company is the final part of the process. No prizes for guessing that I'm hinting that if one retailer offered delivery via a company that has been associated with being late and slow, like Yodel, compared to one which hasn't had such public problems, such as DPD, I know which one I'd go for.

In fact, I've not had problems with Yodel for quite some time -- but they are the reason I stopped buying sports equipment for the youth football team I run from one particular retailer. They once seemed to think it was okay that a driver left a consignment a mile or two down the road from me behind some bins. Presumably they were dumped because he or she was running late or couldn't find me? By sheer luck, the owner of the bins knew me and delivered them herself and the mighty Uffington Juniors FC had a kit to wear that weekend. When I called to warn Yodel of the problem, they said it was impossible and appeared to side with their own driver.

In stark contrast, a pal and I were chatting down the pub about deliveries over Christmas and how great DPD is for tracking parcels and allowing customers to get a narrower time slot prediction with the ability to forewarn you're running late so they might just want to try the next two-hour slot. It just makes so much sense to put control in users' hands, like this. Yet what doesn't make sense, is that none of the retailers we shopped with pointed out it would be a DPD courier. Why not? It would actually make me more likely to buy from them.

The oddest fulfillment fail I'll leave you with came in the run-up to Christmas when I'd actually booked a named day slot with Interflora for flowers, booze and chocs for my sister. Have you ever had one of those odd standoffs where you think someone's being rude not saying "thanks" and they think you're rude for forgetting them at Christmas? Well, when we finally broached the subject, it turned out they hadn't delivered. This was made all the more odd by me having received a reassuring "your gift has been delivered" email on Christmas Eve. A call to Interflora revealed that the florist in question makes up a list of orders they hope to get through and these are automatically considered delivered with a corresponding delivery confirmation sent out later that day.

This is sent regardless of whether the gift has been delivered or not and did at least get a response from a helpful customer services representative at Interflora that it wasn't the beset set-up, particularly as flowers are normally sensitive to a particular day or occasion and the sender would only know their confirmatory email was a lie if the recipient mentioned they hadn't received flowers which, of course, they weren't necessarily to know they should be expecting. Talk about a classic Catch 22.

So there you have it. Retailers, if you want to stand out, tell us who you're trusting delivery to. Don't keep it a secret -- tell us all about who'll be driving our goods and delivering our presents. If we're dealing online with you, it's the only human we're going to see, hopefully -- so choose wisely and let us know what you've decided.

If you're looking for a means of differentiation, this is one staring right at you.

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