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Are retailers and brands delivering on expectations?

Date: July 13, 2017

Category: Industry news

Shopping online is increasingly becoming the preferred way of buying clothes for many of us.

With more and more shoppers browsing online to access a wider range and get the best deals, it’s essential for retailers and brands to understand what customers really want. To uncover the story, GS1 UK partnered with Drapers to find out what 2,000 UK customers look for when shopping online.

Britain spends more online per head than any other country in the world. According to the UK Cards Association, UK customers spend an average of £4,600 per year online - £1,000 more than Americans. The UK ecommerce market is huge, and it’s only going to keep on growing. In 2016, retail sales exceeded £130 billion – a 16 per cent increase on 2015, according to an e-Retail Sales Index from IMRG and Cap Gemini.

What do shoppers want online?

Today, speed and convenience are increasingly important in winning the hearts, minds and wallets of customers. As fashion retail becomes ever more competitive, customers are becoming more demanding. Standard delivery is no longer enough. Customers now expect to see a wide variety of delivery options giving them control over how and when their items are delivered.

We found that 58% of UK customers expect to see ‘next day’ delivery on a website, and 55% see ‘click and collect’ as the norm. This has caused a key battleground for competition between retailers and brands. Before Amazon Prime, standard delivery was enough for shoppers. But now, customers increasingly expect the same level of service that Amazon Prime provides from every online retailer.

When our survey respondents were asked what was more important when it comes to delivery, 39% said it should be cheap, 32% said convenient, and 21% said fast. However, these figures changed within different age groups. Younger shoppers saw cheap delivery as more important, whereas older shoppers were more focused around convenience.

Are poor delivery options affecting sales?

According to a distribution company, Descartes, one fifth of shopping baskets are abandoned due to unsatisfactory delivery options. And although retailers and brands are spending their time investing in advertising, and web design, often it won’t boost sales unless they improve their delivery services.

Richard Pugh, from M&S logistics said, “we’re working to increase the number of options for customers to collect and return products, adding more convenient locations – some within our own store estate, such as Simply Food stores, and others with third partners, such as By Box lockers.”

But it’s not just the big players who are facing difficulties keeping up with the competition. Every high street retailer and brand faces similar pressures to provide more delivery options.

Retailer Quiz, for example, already offers click and collect, standard and next day delivery options, but the need to become ever more competitive with speed and convenience is essential.

“Some of our plans include extending next-day delivery cut off times, fulfilling online orders from stores, and introducing digital kiosks and iPads in stores so customers can purchase online in-store and opt for either click and collect or home delivery,” explains Sheraz Ramzan, Business Development Manager at Quiz.

The solution

“The key is to offer a range of options aligned to your brand positioning and customers’ needs”, says Jacky Broomhead, Market Development Manager for apparel at GS1 UK. “For example, brands offering product that is more of a considered purchase are less likely to offer free next-day delivery, as the purchase is seen as an investment and, therefore, not as urgent. In contrast, fashion brands need to offer more delivery options as their customer is more inclined to buy now, wear now."

Delivery is certainly part of providing the perfect shopping experience to customers. But where shoppers want immediacy, convenience and reliability, retailers and brands need to consider delivery options very carefully and monitor them very closely – they need to strike a balance between offering choice, while also maintaining margins.

Read the full report here


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