The Battle Against Failed Deliveries: What It Means for Retailers, Consumers, and the Environment

The world of e-commerce has undoubtedly revolutionised the way we shop, offering unparalleled convenience and access to a wide range of products. However, behind the scenes of this digital shopping paradise, there’s a persistent issue that’s affecting both consumers and retailers alike: failed deliveries. Recent studies and reports reveal the extent of this problem and its far-reaching implications.

A significant 24% of retailers surveyed worldwide reported that more than 1 in 10 orders failed to be delivered on the first attempt. This is despite the fact that more people were working from home during the pandemic. Furthermore, another study found that a staggering 67% of consumers have faced delivery problems, with failed deliveries being a significant contributor to these issues.

The Ripple Effect on Consumer Relationships

Failed deliveries don’t just inconvenience customers; they can sour their relationship with both the retailer and the postal operator or carrier involved. In the highly competitive world of e-commerce, this can be particularly devastating, as dissatisfied customers often don’t bother complaining; they simply switch to a different online vendor. This raises the importance of ensuring a smooth delivery experience.

In the UK, Citizens Advice reports that the problem of failed deliveries is on the rise. In 2022, their online advice on dealing with undelivered parcels was viewed nearly 211,000 times, and more people than ever reached out about parcel problems. Shockingly, half of those who purchased online in the last three months reported encountering a delivery issue. Moreover, of those who experienced a delivery problem and tried to resolve it, almost half (46%) faced additional problems, including financial losses.

The Call for Regulation: Consumers often find themselves at a disadvantage because their contract is with the retailer rather than the parcel company responsible for the delivery. Beth Foley, principal policy manager at Citizens Advice, rightly calls for better regulation in the market. Without the ability to choose which parcel company delivers their packages, consumers have limited recourse when faced with poor service. This lack of competition, Foley argues, hinders the courier industry’s motivation to improve.

Carriers Under Pressure to Improve

Failed deliveries not only hurt the consumer but also have a significant impact on costs and sustainability. The “last mile” of delivery can represent up to 30% of the order fulfilment cost. Failed deliveries can cost as much as €15 (US$16) per delivery, significantly eating into retailers’ profit margins. Worse yet, they contribute to environmental problems, with returned parcels and failed deliveries accounting for 25% of the total distance driven by delivery trucks, resulting in 420,000 tons of CO2 emissions.

The Role of Technology

To face this problem, carriers are turning to technology. Royal Mail, for instance, launched an automatic redelivery service to address this challenge. Postal staff now automatically redeliver parcels the following working day if the customer is not at home for the first attempt. This approach not only improves convenience but also benefits the environment by reducing unnecessary trips.

Getting Customers Involved

“Customers are looking for a real promise-to-delivery, based on trust and reliability”, said Antonio Perini, CEO of Milkman Technologies. “Pre-configured delivery schedules are no longer perceived as enough; customers become more and more selective by choosing their preferred time slots and paying accordingly”.

The Milkman Smart Promise, built upon advanced and distinctive algorithms, empowers Carriers and Transportation Providers to lead the way in innovation. This innovative solution enables intelligent deliveries, minimising mileage and CO2 emissions by leveraging state-of-the-art route optimization algorithms and streamlined delivery procedures.

Communication Is Also Key

To tackle the issue of failed deliveries effectively, communication is vital. And, bridging interactive communication flows with shoppers, is now a lifeline to success. Milkman Interactive Tracking offers full visibility over the order delivery process, enabling options for rescheduling. If configured accordingly, it allows to collect shopper ratings and feedback after each delivery.

The problem of failed deliveries is one that affects consumers, retailers, and the environment. Addressing this issue requires a multi-faceted approach. Enhanced regulation, technological innovation, and active customer involvement are all essential components of the solution. As consumers, we must also recognize our role in this process and actively engage with delivery preferences to reduce failed deliveries and their wider impacts. Only by working together can we hope to minimise the inconvenience, costs, and environmental harm caused by failed deliveries in the world of e-commerce.

All information and facts were retrieved from the article “Waste Reduction”, September 2023 edition of Postal and Parcel Technology International:

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