iForce's latest research has found that enhanced delivery options have grown over the last year as e-Retailers react to consumer demand for more choice, with 17 per cent more retailers offering evening delivery while 14 per cent more retailers now offer Collect from Store, compared to the last study.
These findings are from the third Delivery Options survey published by iForce, the UK's leading outsourced multichannel specialist logistics operator. Conducted in October 2010, the study examined for a third time the same sample of e-Retailers iForce first examined in October 2009 and revisited for a second survey in April 2010.
The latest study found that to meet rising consumer expectations many retailers have a variety of delivery options designed to suit the most demanding buyers. The percentage of online stores offering cross channel delivery/collection options is growing steadily, particularly the collect from store option, while some retailers have also come up with new delivery options such as:
•An annual fee giving unlimited Free One/Next Day delivery and discounted other forms of delivery;
•Subscribe and Save programmes where members benefit from eligible items having a 10 per cent discount on the price and additionally all subscription orders are shipped free;
•Choice of a nominated hour for delivery, with an acceptable plus or minus window;
•An ‘avoiding the school run' option, where delivery is made in the middle of the day.
Geoff Taylor, Director of Client Services at iForce, comments: "The growth in consumer dictated delivery options between April and October demonstrates that choice has become paramount. In particular the option for evening deliveries has flourished, where we had seen a drop in previous research. Collect from Store has also seen rapid progression; a picture mirrored by iForce's own client base."
While Collect from Store has risen by 14 per cent since April's study, it has risen from 18 to 37 per cent across the study sample since October 2009 and in almost 9 out of 10 cases this option is free of charge. There are two variations of this service:
The first is Click & Collect/Reserve & Buy. Products are chosen online and their availability in local stores is checked. Reserved goods are available for pick-up immediately and a SMS service is often used to provide a reservation number, with payment made in-store.
The second variation is Online payment collect in store. The time between order placed and availability for collection varies from 1 to 10 working days. Often the debit/credit card used for online payment is required at the collection point for identification.
The study found that 18.5 per cent of eligible stores currently have designated collection points. In all other cases orders can be collected from Consumer Service Desks or simply at the till.
Interestingly, the lack of ‘bricks and mortar' retail space does not inhibit the pureplay online retailers; although some of the surveyed retailers do not have physical stores, they are still able to offer ‘Collect from store' service using local convenience stores. Where this service is used, consumers can also take their returns there to avoid waiting for a carrier to collect.
Geoff Taylor comments: "Click & Collect has multiple benefits including reducing the delivery/ collection run for the carrier; reducing re-delivery inconvenience, which adds cost to carriers and retailer, when the consumer is not in; and increasing footfall in the retail location. These are the reasons why it is an important service to offer and must be fully supported by e-fulfilment partners as part of a cross channel retail strategy."
The latest study also found that while 12.3 per cent of the surveyed sample offered completely free standard delivery, the average cost for standard delivery, for those who do charge has risen to £4.41 from £3.52 in last April's survey. "This rise could be due to retailers making wiser carrier choices and charging consumers a ‘composite rate' to ensure that the cost of delivery including returns and out of area deliveries," said Geoff Taylor. "Carrier rate increases and retailers recouping some of their e-Fulfilment operating costs are other possible factors."
Next day delivery carries a premium rate for most retailers, and is offered by 60% of the online stores sampled. The average next day delivery charge has increased by £0.35 since the last survey from £6.48 to £6.83. The average price for Saturday delivery is £7.48. Cut off time for placing orders to qualify for a next day delivery ranges from 12pm to 10.00pm. Grocers are the only retailers that offer a 10pm cut-off, although a well known clothing retailer has a 9pm cut off time.
Geoff Taylor commented: "In April's survey the latest cut off time for next day was 19:00. This indicates that fulfilment centres are working in conjunction with carriers 24/7 to deliver last minute orders for next day delivery, and that retailers are confident in the ability of their carrier networks."
Full details from iForce's third ‘Delivery Options' research can be found at www.iforcegroup.com
iForce is one of the UK's leading e-fulfilment and returns logistics businesses, offering end-to-end solutions to their clients' business challenges. Founded in 1998, iForce has pioneered the development of traditional fulfilment skills, processes and technologies for the e-commerce world. iForce's other services include strategic planning & consultancy for e-retailers, e-analysis, stock management, customer service and logistics. iForce has approximately 500 staff and over 1.1 million square feet of warehouse space in six UK locations serving the UK and Continental Europe. Clients today include: John Lewis Direct, Sainsbury's, Boots.com, Fortnum & Mason and Habitat for e-fulfilment, Tesco, Screwfix and House of Fraser for Reverse Logistics and Greene King and Bentley for Direct Marketing.