What Amazon Prime Day demonstrates about the importance of delivery

Amazon Prime Day has become a retail phenomenon, and in terms of sales now surpasses Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year’s event, even with all the glitches, has been labelled by Amazon as its ‘biggest in history’ with Prime members purchasing more than 100 million products within 36 hours. Its growth is incredible, and two key factors behind why it has been so successful has to be Amazon’s focus on delivery and the customer.

Amazon continues to set the bar for service, and shoppers now expect the same from other online retailers. The combination of a wide range of products, value for money and choice of cost effective and efficient delivery options make it the ‘go to’ destination. All retailers work hard on delivering the first two but making sure that delivery becomes a differentiator is vital to making or breaking a sale.

Amazon’s communication around delivery is exemplary and a model that should be followed by other retailers. Fundamental to how Amazon uses delivery to meet and often exceed customer expectations is by being completely open and transparent. For example, as it ramps up to peaks in sales, you will often find that Amazon extends the delivery window enabling it to fulfil orders in a timely manner. This change in goalposts doesn’t impact on conversion because the consumer has been kept well informed and therefore trusts the retailer.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the proportion of internet spending continues to rise, with almost one in every five pounds spent online by the end of 2017. Whilst it is encouraging that shoppers appear to have a more genuine intent to purchase, it is concerning that high shipping fees combined with lengthy wait times is still a serious issue and increases the likelihood of cart abandonment and customer dissatisfaction. In fact, recent statistics from Retail Week reveal that 50 percent of abandoned purchases online are down to a retailer’s expensive delivery charges, with a lack of delivery options cited by one in ten people. These statistics reinforce the message that consumers expect a delivery that best suits their individual needs. This is a very frustrating situation for retailers who could have invested hours crafting out deals with vendors and distributors to bring good deals to customers, or spent thousands developing the perfect UX and SEO. Shipping is not just delivery anymore, it is a significant part of the customer journey.

So what can online retailers do to make sure they don’t fall at the final hurdle?

Retailers need to put the customer at the heart of the supply chain and truly evaluate how they deliver what their customer desires. Survey customers and competitors to identify the right set of choices to offer. Customer requirements will also change from day to day, purchase to purchase, so it is important for retailers to define the ‘minimum viable service’.

Likewise, when all that is established retailers need to make sure they have the infrastructure in place. Consumers demand choice when it comes to fulfillment of the products they purchase online, so businesses need to consider a platform that enables those options, e.g. next day or elected day delivery, click & collect and options for the cost-conscious shopper who is happy to sacrifice speed for cheaper or free delivery. Predicting what customers want is critical.

Cox & Cox is a great example of a retailer which is optimising the way it gets its products into the hands of customers. Cox & Cox is an online homeware, furniture, and textiles retailer currently growing 20 percent year-on-year. To support this growth, the eCommerce team upgraded all of their eCommerce and related technologies at once – its eCommerce platform, its ERP solution and warehouse system. The webstore became mobile responsive and offers flexible shipping options by connecting Magento Shipping with its Warehouse Management System to the Magento Shipping API, to reduce complexity and maximise check out conversion.

Retailers at the top of the pack, such as Amazon, make these processes run like clockwork to ensure a seamless customer experience that win top class Trustpilot reviews and best in class Net Promoter Scores. Having sold 100 million items over a day and a half, it is remarkable that Amazon is still able to get products to their destination within a couple of days. There’s a reason why Amazon is at the top of the food chain and it’s worth retailers pausing to consider what they can do to better deliver at the final mile. 

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