Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

“Delivery disasters” … Paul Skeldon in eSeller

Paul Skeldon in eSeller writes  … Shipping and delivery are the public face of your business – it is often the physical embodiment of your brand on the customers doorstep. So getting it right is crucial.

Here we take a look at some of the most common mistakes and what to do to avoid them.

Unexpected costs

Unexpected delivery charges are a major factor in prompting basket abandonment. A shopper may be happy with purchases but on viewing how much it will cost to receive their items they’ll leave without checking out.

If you can’t lower your prices for delivery consider making it clear what you charge from the outset so there are no nasty surprises. Not only does this instil trust in your brand it can also help to secure conversions too.

Another option to combat this problem is to offer cheaper delivery options. For example you can give the choice of a slower delivery time for a lower price.

Nick Carter, founder of, says: “Unexpected delivery charges are the number one reason for basket abandonment – it’s crucial to be upfront with customers about what they will be charged, and to keep those charges as low as possible.”

Wrong packaging

The right packaging is crucial for protecting profits. Not only does it have to be cost effective it also has to protect the product. Consumers rarely consider the packaging costs when paying for delivery and so it falls to the retailer to find the most cost effective solution that ensures products arrive safely.

Broken products can cost a company a lot of money along with replacing the item, the redelivery and repackaging costs must be considered. Some companies also place an emphasis on eco-friendly packaging as they know their customers will appreciate their green endeavours.

Mary Mbure is the ecommerce manager at Fever, she noticed a problem with their packaging: “We go to great efforts to make sure that convenience and presentation match customers’ expectations.

“We’ve spent a great deal of time looking at our delivery proposition as well as the way the customer receives their order as well as monitoring how our competitors operate. The feedback we get from our customers suggests that they’re on the whole very happy with the way and manner in which their orders are delivered.”

“We realised that the way we were packaging customer’s orders was creasing the dresses, which gave a very negative impression when the dress arrived. We’re now looking at many options, which would provide more space and better presentation of the dress.”

Wrong delivery company

Delivery companies are currently thriving as consumers demand more options from retailers. Many ecommerce sites place a lot of trust in their delivery providers and this is where problems can occur. For example some assume that the company they hire will handle the deliveries when some actually outsource leaving you blind as to the company who’s in charge of your stock.

With the delivery providers becoming more sophisticated the right one can offer a service that the retailer can’t. For instance many now offer a tracking service, along with communicating with your customer directly, allowing you to share responsibility is anything goes wrong.

Nick Carter gave this advice to eSeller: “It’s also important to give as much detail as possible about what customers should expect from the delivery process – in other words, what happens if they’re not at home, will they receive a notification when the courier is on his way, can they reschedule a delivery and so on.”

“The technology employed by parcel couriers has improved a lot in recent years – Interlink, for example, now offers a ‘follow my parcel’ feature enabling you or your customer to watch the progress of your driver on his route online in real time.”

It is crucial to track orders for your own costs as you have no proof about if a package arrived or not if a consumer claims they haven’t received it.

False figures

A lot of retailers invest heavily in ensuring the figure for profits are spot on yet when it comes to delivery these figures can be overlooked. Small businesses especially are keen to get their products shipped and sometimes estimate the cost.

It’s important to know the weight and size of every single product you sell in order to determine delivery costs. Even if you have your own delivery fleet like Tesco do, you still need to know how much fuel, manpower, vehicle maintenance and packaging costs in order to see how it effects products.

Even if you’re determined to offer a cheaper delivery, understanding the exact costs is crucial. Without knowing what ideal price you should charge to cover every delivery expense, you have no way of knowing if your service is seriously hindering or swallowing your profits.

Nick Carter points out one obstacle that adds to the expense for retailers, “Delivery to remote parts of the UK is a bit of a minefield.  Customers in those areas are accustomed to paying the same price as everyone else due to Royal Mail’s universal service obligation, which of course doesn’t extend to the other parcel carriers.

“If you’re sending anything heavier than a couple of kilos, you’re faced with the choice of charging a significantly higher delivery price, which is very unpopular, or cross-subsidising deliveries to those areas which is very expensive.  It’s therefore particularly challenging to profitably satisfy your customers in those regions.”

Incorrect information

Incorrect information either gained from a consumer or printed onto an address label costs retailers hundreds if not thousands of pounds per year. It can also lose a retailer loyal custom as when a parcel goes missing it can take a long time for it to be redelivered to its origin.

Verifying addresses on site at the point of checkout is one way to avoid this costly mistake.

Delivery firms are thriving in this current eCommerce climate and just like retailers they need to offer more to beat their competition. Research them well and see what other services they offer as benefits such as order tracking can save you a lot of time and expense.

Paul Skeldon in eSeller