In a recent survey of over 1,600 American consumers, DispatchTrack uncovered growing dissatisfaction with the home delivery experience, particularly when it came to big and bulky deliveries. For one thing, rescheduled deliveries have become the norm, with half of big and bulky deliveries being rescheduled at least once—usually by days or weeks.
Frequent rescheduling introduces a level of uncertainty into the delivery process that hurts the consumer’s experience. At the same time, consumers in general were much more bothered by deliveries missing their time windows than by rescheduled deliveries. 61% of consumers said they’d be unlikely to purchase from the same retailer again if an order didn’t arrive on time.
The upshot is that customers now have very specific expectations regarding home delivery: they want their items delivered at the right time, and they want transparency into deliveries. The world of home delivery has been in a transitional phase since before the pandemic—and pressures from larger supply chain disruptions, fuel cost volatility, and increasingly unpredictable demand levels are only increasing the complexity of getting the last mile right—but with the right approach you can set yourself up to win in a competitive marketplace.
To check out the data directly, you can read the full 2022 Big and Bulky Delivery Report. In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into some of the most intriguing report findings and give a rundown of some of the ways that retailers can respond.
66% of Consumers Say That Being On-Time Is the Best Aspect of a Good Delivery Experience
It’s hard to overstate how important on-time deliveries are to consumers:
- Our research found that on-time arrivals were cited as the best part of successful deliveries more often than any other factor, including order accuracy or speed.
- Crucially, on-time isn’t early. About a third of customers (31%) said that early deliveries were just as inconvenient as late deliveries.
- In spite of the importance placed on timeliness, nearly half (44%) of respondents had big and bulky items delivered outside the promised time window.
These late deliveries can often have real-world consequences. More than 60% of consumers said that if a retailer failed to deliver on time they’d be unlikely to purchase from the same company in the future.
This might sound pretty dire—but it’s really an opportunity in disguise for businesses that are able to put the right technology and processes in place. When you know how much value customers place on delivering at the right time, you can place greater operational emphasis on doing exactly that as consistently as possible.
Making this happen starts with the right route optimization approach. Planning routes by hand leaves you in the dark as to when orders are actually going to arrive at the delivery site, and it gives you zero guarantees about whether or not you’re actually getting the most out of your capacity. And many legacy routing solutions are just as bad, requiring unworkable amounts of time and effort to finalize routes that actually meet all of your delivery parameters. The trick here is to find a route optimization solution that’s fast, AI-powered, and easy to use. By leveraging AI and machine learning to analyze things like service time variables, driver speed and skill factors, and historical traffic patterns, you can improve your ETA estimates and ensure a high rate of on-time deliveries. Combine that with the ability to create routes rapidly without a huge burden of back-office effort, and you can consistently provide right-time deliveries to your customers while ensuring high capacity utilization across your fleet.
90% of Customers Say They Want Order Tracking
Next to on-time performance, one of the most important things to modern day consumers is transparency. Gone are the days of customers placing an order and being content with the entire last mile delivery being a black box. And it’s not hard to envision: When it comes to scheduled deliveries in general and big and bulky deliveries in particular, customers often have to put their entire days on hold to accept the delivery—and if they run down to the store for a few minutes, they risk missing the delivery truck entirely.
This costs the retailer money right off the bat—there’s no economy of scale on redelivery attempts—but it can be seriously costly in the long run. Why? Because it negatively impacts customer experience, which in turn impacts customer loyalty and brand reputation. In short, giving customers insight and clarity into their orders is no longer a luxury—there’s a reason that half of consumers blame negative delivery experiences on bad communication.
What’s the answer to this conundrum? As it happens, the data provides some pretty straightforward answers:
- 91% of consumers want the ability to track their orders. 41% want to know exactly where their order is in real-time, while another 50% want at least a general idea.
- 80% of consumers want to receive order updates.
- On average, text communications—and, to a somewhat lesser extent, emails—were preferable to phone calls and social media messages.
As a retailer, that’s a pretty clear mandate. For every order, you should keep the consumer updated throughout the process (using whatever their preferred method of communication is), and give them real-time delivery tracking and more frequent order updates on the day of delivery. In this way, you ensure that customers are in the loop, they know when to expect their delivery orders, and they can get the level of transparency they need.
Right now, this isn’t exactly the norm. Only 28% of respondents in our survey were able to track their deliveries in real time—and 35% weren’t able to track their deliveries at all. That means that retailers and other businesses that can consistently provide real-time tracking and proactive updates to customers can gain a big competitive edge and more easily hold onto customers.
Sustainability Is Growing in Importance
Our study showed evidence for a lot of what we’ve been saying for years: delivering at the right time and offering customers easy delivery tracking make a huge difference on customer experience. But we also had interesting findings on a topic that has been emerging and growing in importance in recent years: green logistics.
Right now, about half of respondents say that they take environmental factors into account when making purchasing decisions—but more than 70% said that they’d be more likely to factor sustainability into their decision making process if retailers made it easier to see the climate impacts of their decisions.
This stands out as another meaningful opportunity for businesses that want to capture more market share. If you can engage consumers in the process of driving towards green logistics by making it easier for them to make green delivery choices, you can win over customers who might be looking for opportunities to take sustainability more seriously in their decisions.
Of course, in order to offer this kind of education and actually provide greener options to consumers, you need to be able to decrease waste and emissions throughout your logistics processes. This is another area where route optimization comes into play. The more efficient your routes, the less fuel you have to use—which is an effect that you can amplify further when customers give you a mandate to orchestrate deliveries in a more efficient way. By the same token, better last mile communication capabilities help you avoid failed deliveries and thereby cut out the emissions that come with redelivery attempts.
There’s no crystal ball we can look into that will magically tell us the future of last mile deliveries. But the snapshot of last mile deliveries that we have right now offers a lot to work with. Present-day consumers are sick of constant rescheduling, late deliveries, and broken delivery promises—which means there’s never been a better time than right now to use consistent right-time delivery performance as a competitive differentiator.
Read the 2022 Big and Bulky Delivery Report to learn more!