Takeaways from Internet Retailing and eDelivery for the smaller retailer. Customer experience, Delivery optimisation and more (episode 072)

The eDelivery Conference and Internet Retailing Conferences are sister conferences held across 2 days last week.

This year I got to chair two of the conference streams – introducing each speaker, and moderating the Q&As so I have lots of great information in this episode for you.

There was a fair bit of delivery discussion in the Internet Retailing Conference too – so rather than religiously separate the two days I’ve merged all the delivery content together regardless of which conference the words were uttered during.

Oh, and there was almost no mention of black Friday at all.

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International eCommerce Day

On the 3rd of November, International eCommerce Day takes place.

It’s an online conference – so you can access it all from your own office, no travel required.

The speaker line up is superb (and includes me!) and I’ll be watching pretty much all day too.

And you can save your spot for free too – just click here to sign up.


Delivery :

  • Click and Collect beyond the hype
  • PUDO
  • The power of listening to customers, and using the right software system – case study with Feelunique

Beyond Delivery:

  • Product
  • Single customer view
  • Customer experience


Click and Collect beyond the hype

We all know that Click and Collect is a big customer favourite- but don’t go thinking it’s easy! During my panel at Internet Retailing we got firmly into a discussion on Click and Collect.
Turns out pretty much every retailer in the room has a click and collect option, but less than 5% of them are happy with it.

Problems we discussed included:

  • Holland and Barrett (hopefully a future guest): Click and collect is their most expensive delivery method. Because the lorries only visit stores twice a week, so they have to process the order like a normal eCommerce order, ship it by normal delivery methods to the store, and then the store team have to give it to the customer. With no knowledge of what’s in the parcel – thus no ability to upsell. So they are now charging for click and collect.
  • Boots: Over 70% of their online orders are collected from a store – some of their stores are pretty tiny, located at train stations etc. So they have referred to the impact of click and collect at peak as the “Attack of the parcels”!
  • John Lewis: Only about 50% of their customers pick up their parcels next day, and after black Friday that dropped to just 38%. Which causes massive storage issues instore. In fact they’re now considering making next day click and collect a premium offering…

So, you need to consider click and collect, but be aware that the industry standard model is still being worked out.


This was a new one for me this year. It stands for “Pick up drop off” – so the ability for customers to collect goods, and also return them.

Hypaship shared stats that 85% of customers say they’d shop more from a retailer if the delivery and returns was easy.

It seems to me that investing in a PUDO carrier would be a better move than a click and collect service – you’re using someone who’s used to the system, and who probably has greater coverage than yourselves.

The power of listening to customers, and using the right software system – case study with Feelunique

There was definitely a push for retailers to invest in delivery management software – software that manages the delivery proposition from what the customer sees and selects on the website, through to which carrier actually delivers the parcel. Including a customised tracking dashboard (so rather than having to go to DPD or parcel Force websites the customer just logs into the retailers site and everything is there for them) and a reviews system.

It certainly makes sense in theory as the options become more complex, and getting your own reports back from customers on the delivery methods is clearly a route to massive improvements in customer services. But is it the right thing for you to invest in right now?

Feelunique (retailer of beauty products across the world) have been working with such a system and approach this year.

They invested in the software system from ITinSell because they wanted to:

–    Focus on getting the last mile of the delivery right for the customer
–    Remove the confusion that customers felt in having to deal with multiple carriers
–    Make sure that the ‘untracked’ services didn’t feel inferior for the customer
–    Be able to make a delivery promise to their customers – “If you don’t get your parcel within 10 days we’ll issue a refund”
–    Make sure their packaging was creating a good experience for customers

The platform has given them a great database of stats – including customer reviews. Customers are asked to review their delivery experience, and they get 30% of all customers responding to the request (for ‘normal’ reviews it’s usually just a 10% response).

Those review requests include a free text box – and each of those is answered by customer services within 20 minutes.

They’ve mapped the individual delivery options to all 110 countries they serve so the customer gets a dashboard that fits their personal experience.  So this isn’t easy to set up! But 58% of their customers are using the tracking system.

All the stats have enabled them to tweak and improve their delivery service:

–    Changed their carriers and methods in Europe
–    Changed their principle UK carrier
–    Changed packaging – two of their box types were causing customers issues

The results of this are:

–    Customers are saying they have more confidence in the delivery
–    It’s increased repeat purchases across the world – and international repeat purchases have increased 50% because all international orders are now tracked.
–    Delivery queries to the customer service team have dropped by 10% (impressive considering that 50% of all customer services queries were about delivery)

Beyond Delivery


Interesting piece of analysis from Andrew Mclean, head of international and chief operating officer at Urban Outfitters…

The pure play retailers are often just ‘product aggregators’ they stock every option to give the customer endless choice. But a ‘brand’ stock far fewer products because the edit of those products is the brand.

click to see it larger

So what are you – a product aggregator offering ultimate choice? Or a brand offering a superior edit?

Single customer view

Just a quick update on this one, Robin Phillips, director of Omnichannel and Development at Boots UK revealed that they are 3 years into building their SCV and still have 2 to 3 years to go.
So please don’t beat yourself up about it – rather focusing on using the data you do have to create the marketing for your customers.

Customer Experience

This was the big theme of the conference, so I here are the key takeaways for you:

Monetate shared a great stat from a 2016 Gartner survey – 89% of companies will compete primarily on customer service in the future.

A common theme was that you can have all the tech in the world to achieve great customer experience – but if the people aren’t right and on board it’s not going to work.

Halfords’ Chief Digital Office Tony Rivenell explained that training the team to create a great instore experience is their primary method of differentiation from Amazon.

James McClure General Manager UK & Ireland for Airbnb explained that their business is built on ‘the currency of trust’ and that they sell experience ahead of features. Here’s 2 examples of how they make that a reality:

Each year they run a conference for their hosts, this year they had the tech team on standby to make feasible improvements right there and then during the conference – over 50 improvements were made directly enabling their hosts to serve their customers a better experience.

Back in January they ran a marketing campaign called “One Less Stranger” they gave 10,000 of their hosts $10 and asked them to use it to make “one less stranger” in the world – huge social media impact.

Finally an example from Boots that ties great experience up with some sales stats.

They’ve created their first omnichannel service – it’s called “Beautiful You”.

They know that most women don’t know which skin type they are.

The customer goes there, create a profile, and by answering a series of questions they can better identify their skin type. Then the customer gets the option of booking an appointment at one of 57 stores to have their skin type scientifically analysed. (turns out only 1 in 5 of those taking the survey get it right).

This has led to a 50% conversion, higher purchase frequency, higher AOVs, and brought them new customers.

Get the customer experience right – and you’ll grow your business.

Have a great week everyone and Keep Optimising!