Australian online retailers are going to extra lengths with express delivery options, in a bid to turn the last mile into a golden sales opportunity and exceed customer expectations.
Apparel and grocery online retailers in Australia are lifting their game when it comes to delivery options, offering innovative express deliveries, where customers can purchase an item online and have it in their hands within 3 hours.
Pureplay retailer, The Iconic first launched its 3-hour Sydney delivery option in November 2011 in an effort to offer customers “a better shopping experience” online.
For $4.95 The Iconic’s Sydney metro-based customers get their goods picked, packed and delivered within 3 hours, between 7am and 6pm on business days. A message appears at the check-out if this option is available to customers.
The Iconic’s Co-founder and Operations Director, Adam Jacobs says the retailer wants to set the industry standard for online shopping.
“We thought about what customers care about when shopping online, and how we can be better than anyone else. They want the best range of products at good prices, with a site that’s easy to use and lightning fast delivery. As a local Australian online retailer we think we can really stand out on all of these points, and set the industry standard,” he says.
“With our 3-hour delivery we wanted to change the paradigm of online shopping, which often means a wait of several weeks, to a delivery speed that’s faster than actually going to the shops! It’s all about delivering an experience our customers will love.”
Jacobs says extensive back-end systems, dedicated staff and internal warehouse operations help to see that the tight delivery timelines are met.
“We have a healthy marriage of smart technology, clever processes, and passionate staff. For example, here’s how the 3-hour delivery works: as soon as you click “buy”, our system automatically books a courier to our warehouse. Whilst they’re on their way, our warehouse staff are preparing your order. Our warehouse management system makes sure we always know exactly what and where we have in stock, which is fully integrated to our website, so that we can prepare the order nice and quick. On average it takes 12 minutes for us to prepare the order and hand it to the courier, who then takes it straight to your door.”
Online shoe retailer, Style Tread claims it first hatched the idea for its 3-hour delivery service in June 2011, but the retailer held off on launching until February 2012 because of technical difficulties.
Style Tread’s service comes at a $4.99 cost and is available to customers within a 40-kilometre radius of Sydney Olympic Park, from 7am to 5pm Monday to Friday. A postcode pop-up box appears on the screen so that only customers within the radius can see the 3-hour delivery option.
Both retailers are working with Want It Now, a delivery solution provider, offering same-day delivery options to e-tailers in metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne. The service provider works with a host of Australian retailers.
Style Tread Managing Director and Co-Founder, Mark Rowland says the 3-hour initiative aims to “wow” customers.
“We love to wow our customers with service and after reading our Facebook comments from happy customers the majority of comments related to the speed of our delivery which was already fast but not same day,” he says.
“In Sydney, we also like to wow some customers by personally delivering orders that come in from customers who live close to our warehouse with a personal delivery and our record there is 9 minutes from order to delivery.”
StyleTread and The Iconic both also provide free delivery to other areas within Australia but this does not fall under the 3-hour timeframe. The retailers keep customers in the loop with email notifications when products are dispatched and offer tracking capabilities throughout the delivery process. Style Tread has a 365-day free return policy, while The Iconic offers free returns for 100 days.
In other innovative initiatives, prescription glasses retailer, Sneaking Duck launched a “Try At Home” service within Australia, where customers can select 5 frames to try on at home or work for 5 days. This service is free of charge, and Sneaking Duck covers shipping both ways. This is coupled with a virtual try-on service online where customers upload a photograph to see how products will look. These innovative measures create engagement for customers, and add that extra element to the online shopping experience.
Using delivery promotions effectively to drive loyalty and profits is important, but it also has to be managed successfully. There’s no point offering free delivery or limited-time promotions if you can’t fulfil your offers, and retailers must also be careful when using social media to promote these deals.
Online grocery retailer, GroceryRun, recently promoted a free shipping offer through sister site’s CatchOfTheDay Facebook page. A customer backlash occurred when the retailer was not able to meet the high response, and a number of customers missed out on product offerings such as the iPad. This resulted in the unhappy customers posting negative comments on the social media channel.
It’s important that retailers manage these types of reactions in order to protect their brand reputation and maintain customer loyalty. At the time of writing this, GroceryRun or CatchOfTheDay hadn’t responded to the customers on the page.
With convenience a key element to online retailing, network click and collect locations is a hot topic in the online industry, with many believing it could minimise logistic woes. Whether that’s true is yet to be determined but it does provide some insight into where the Australian online retail space could be headed.
Jacobs says The Iconic has some exciting plans in the works, including pickup locations and more delivery speed options, as well as working on some exciting offers for other cities. Currently, The Iconic is working with ParcelPoint to launch a network of pickup locations. Only time will tell how consumers will take to these initiatives.