What's changing with the e-commerce consumer? Robin Hooker, director of retail strategy with UPS, says delivery speed is only one element in crafting the ideal customer experience.
COVID-19 administered “a shot in the arm” to the e-commerce sector over the past couple of years, but since then there’s been something of slowdown in activity. In addition, online customers are concerned with security and package theft. Surveys of consumers and small businesses suggest that negative reviews of the retailer follow acts of “porch piracy.” And the gig-work nature of e-commerce delivery can also affect the customer experience. In response, says Hooker, retailers “are looking for ways to re-instill confidence in e-commerce broadly.”
Even as retailers and parcel companies experience more headwinds, consumer expectations continue to rise. There’s a need for more personalization, customization and offering of choice to the shopper, beyond basic track-and-trace capability.
Speed of delivery, while still important, “is not everything anymore,” says Hooker. Customers want the ability to make changes in their orders, and draw from multiple delivery options, including picking up an online order at the store. (Some are even willing to pay extra for the privilege.) As a result, concerns about accurate scheduling and security take on greater importance. Customers want to know when the deliverer will arrive, to minimize the possibility of theft, and they want to be covered for any losses. They don’t want to have to “jump through a lot of hoops” to obtain satisfaction from the retailer or courier service in the event of theft or damage to their orders. “We’ve seen an increase in the desire of shippers to seek insurance coverage options that go across a gig environment,” Hooker says.
Despite these challenges, the courier business is a “huge growth industry,” Hooker says, fueled by venture capital money and expectations of future expansion in the sector.
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