I was in Atlanta, last week, attending the Home Delivery World. So it seems natural to share a true delivery story, that happened right there.
Having to speak at one of the seminars I decided that I wanted to show some slides I saved on my iPad. To do that I was missing a GPS plugin so I decided to buy it directly from Bad Elf. That gave me some concerns:
How much was I gonna spend on delivery?
Will I receive it in time for my speech?
It turns out that a 2-3 day delivery for a $125 item cost $15.
Delivery related friction is a stealthy animal, it takes many different shapes. Uncertainty is one of the more frightening. In this case, uncertainty was double: about price first and timing later.
For some shoppers just believing that the delivery fee could be too high might stop the checkout process even before it starts. It’s not the case if many retailers and providers are successfully switching to subscriptions.
Then we have the 2-3 days option. But it’s 2-3 days from now or from the moment in which the retailer handles the item to the courier?
In the second case, I wouldn’t have received my precious piece of electronics on time.
In Italy, for example, if you buy on Amazon, you get two emails: one from Amazon itself, with the order summary and a projected time of delivery and the other from the courier (and that doesn’t always happen), with a slightly more accurate day of delivery.
End users should know only one precise time of delivery, and be informed about it during checkout: all else is friction that could translate into cart abandonment.
And then there’s the delivery itself: I was staying in a huge Hotel. Will they find me? Will they find the right employee and the right reception for intermediate handling?
Invoices usually bear no trace of address normalization: if I write an incorrect address or if I make a simple mistake they get printed and stay attached to my parcel all the way to the end. This is friction too, that translates into anxiety, which, in turn, could translate into a non-returning customer or a missed conversion between a brick and mortar shopper and an online one.
What if they missed me? Then I would have had to try to contact the courier and negotiate a new delivery. The problem is: this second delivery has to be arranged when it is more convenient for the courier, not for me. And between millions of options he really has no chance to make the single right choice that would be cost-efficient.
There’s a lot of talk about velocity and price in deliveries but these are not the only issues, nor the most sensible ones.
Precise knowledge by the merchant about delivery times, right from the checkout; two-way communication between shopper and merchant about third party (courier) activities; address normalization and progressive tracking (showing to the end-user that you care and actively work for everything to run smoothly); rescheduling abilities, digitally enabled and customer-centric: all these elements are becoming more and more necessary to make friction disappear from online shopping.
Gates have to always remain open on a well-paved, easy way to checkout and delivery.