News • 21.07.2020

Online retailers need to better inform customers about the status of their orders

E-Commerce Shipping Study 2020 by parcelLab

parcelLab has analysed for the second time the shipping services of 100 of the largest German online shops (according to EHI). The results show that 1 in 4 retailers in Germany only send a single email to their customers after their checkout. This is especially problematic in current times of uncertainty. 

The expectations of customers are quite simple: When they order online, above anything else they want to receive their order quickly, conveniently and easily. However, when it comes to Operations Experience – all communication and processing from when the customer clicks the buy button until the parcel is returned - there are considerable differences between retailers. 

This is shown once again in parcelLab’s "E-Commerce Shipping Study 2020". The researchers placed test orders with 100 of the largest German online retailers for the second time in August 2019 (the first was in 2018). The study analysed how service-oriented retailers are when it comes to choosing a logistics provider, the level of customer communication during shipping, whether parcels arrive on time and how quickly returns are refunded.

A woman holding a smartphone with delivery information...
Source: PantherMedia/Daviles

Good Operations Experience (OX) is key

The previous "E-Commerce Shipping Study 2018" showed that after the customer checks out, retailers leave them in the dark about their order. Many don't know the current status of their order, where their parcel is, when it will be delivered or from which neighbour they can pick it up. This information is particularly important during the current pandemic when delivery times are much longer, going from three to four days to several weeks in some cases. This is an even bigger issue when the product pages are not displaying these delays.

As a result, customers are highly uncertain about how quickly they will receive their order. Therefore, it is important that retailers inform their customers in real time if the status of their order changes. But the analysis of the 100 largest online shops shows that although the topic of shipping communication has become more of a focus for retailers compared to 2018, there is still room for improvement at most major German online retailers.

On the positive side, the number of retailers who don't communicate with the customer at all after placing an order has fallen from eleven to nine compared to 2018. However, a quarter of the retailers still end their post-purchase communication after just one message – presumably this is the confirmation of receipt of the order. Therefore, the customers of these retailers are waiting in vain for information about their order. 

And even the retailers who do send shipping messages have room to optimise them. Ideally, the tracking link for parcel tracking would not lead back to the logistics provider's site, but instead back to the retailers’ own shop. This is where retailers can explain to their customers in their own words, and in an understandable way, the current status of their order. Plus, they can exploit potential for cross- and upselling. But parcelLab’s analysis shows that only 30 retailers took advantage of the opportunity in the test and guided customers who wanted to track their parcel back to their own store. The vast majority (61 retailers), on the other hand, left this important part of customer communication to their logistics handler.

There is also room for improvement in Operations Experience when it comes to parcel delivery, as the survey shows: only about one fifth of the largest online shops let their customers choose between different logistics providers. Compared to the previous year, the number of retailers who give their customers freedom of choice has actually fallen by two.

Another striking result of the study was that even before the coronavirus pandemic, the information on delivery times in the online shops was rather vague. Almost a third of the retailers did not name a specific delivery date and the rest gave an average delivery time of 3.26 working days. In addition, delivery speed was is rather slow. The proportion of top shops in Germany that deliver to their customers by express or even on the same day has fallen considerably compared to the previous year's study. In 2018, for example, 40 of the retailers offered express delivery, now this is only 25. With same-day delivery, this dropped from eleven to three. However, customers no longer have to pay large amounts for their preferred delivery.

No big changes to returns

Another exciting result of the study is that online retailers have changed their returns policy to increase fees, as has been predicted in the media. 93 retailers continue to offer free returns. However, the retailers made processing returns much harder than in the previous study. 60 of the top 100 retailers refrain from adding return labels to their packages. Instead, customers have to actively organise this themselves.

"Many customers complain about a bad experience when shipping their orders or returns - this was the case before the coronavirus pandemic, during it and that will still apply after the pandemic is over," says parcelLab co-founder Anton Eder. "Proactive communication that clearly informs the customer about the current status of the ordering process can make a huge difference in the customer’s experience.”

Source: parcelLab

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Skilled returns management for more customer loyalty...
03.02.2021   #online trading #e-commerce

Skilled returns management for more customer loyalty

International returns management: transparent, fast, sustainable

On Jan. 27, 2021, the new edition of "retail salsa - Spice up your community," the new webtalk format from iXtenso and EuroShop, took place.The topic of the afternoon: the squeeze of lemon for your returns management.Want to know what ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Examining working environments in warehouses...
26.01.2021   #e-commerce #warehouse management

Examining working environments in warehouses

Research on new jobs in e-commerce

Researchers in occupational science and occupational health from Swedish University of Gävle and Luleå University of Technology are going to study working environments in the large warehouses that form the hubs in e-commerce. E-commerce ...

Thumbnail-Photo: How to manage parcel returns properly
30.11.2020   #logistics #delivery

How to manage parcel returns properly

Rules for a sustainable e-commerce

Sustainability, ethics and the ecological footprint – nothing that e-commerce can really score with. Especially shipping including returns urgently need more awareness, from customers as well as store operators.Micha Augstein, founder of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Autonomous delivery vehicles
14.01.2021   #delivery #robotics

Autonomous delivery vehicles

Industry report 2020 on indoor and outdoor delivery robots

Reportlinker.com announces the release of the report "Autonomous Delivery Vehicle Industry Report, 2020".Indoor autonomous delivery marketUp to date, indoor autonomous delivery robots have been available in restaurants, hotels, office ...

Thumbnail-Photo: 5 reasons outsourcing logistics is the way to go...
11.01.2021   #e-commerce #customer satisfaction

5 reasons outsourcing logistics is the way to go

Meeting customer expectations in the age of ecommerce

The rise of e-commerce is a pervasive force that ripples through every part of the global supply chain, calling for faster and more efficient shipping. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of logistics service ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Real-time transparency for supply chains thanks to big data...
01.02.2021   #supply chain management #logistics

Real-time transparency for supply chains thanks to big data

More efficiency and lower costs for retailers thanks to precise ETAs

More than ever before, retailers have to be ahead of their competition when it comes to filling orders and responding to customer requirements. The global hunger for consumption reached a new high in 2019, with retail sales of USD 25 trillion. And ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Walmart pilots smart box technology to receive fresh deliveries...
21.01.2021   #online food retailing #food delivery service

Walmart pilots smart box technology to receive fresh deliveries

Contactless grocery delivery 24/7

“What if we could conveniently deliver fresh groceries to a customer’s front door any time of the day, whether they’re home or not?” This question led Walmart to explore a smart option in their new pilot with ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Sustainable shipping in partnership with One Tree Planted...
08.01.2021   #sustainability #logistics

Sustainable shipping in partnership with One Tree Planted

Freight Club launches free carbon offset program for members

Freight Club, a logistics management platform, launches a free-access program to members that offsets 100% of the carbon emissions emitted from all shipment it enables. The program, in partnership with non-profit One Tree Planted, will plant trees ...