When you think of e-commerce and digital marketing there are lots of things that spring to mind such as brainstorming the initial ideas, creating buzz on social media and driving traffic to a landing page through to viral marketing campaigns. But there is one very important step that is often overlooked. The last and most important process in any digital marketing cycle is always customer fulfilment. If this final link in the chain from seller to buyer isn’t completed successfully and efficiently, the tremendous efforts involved in developing slick digital marketing campaigns may be wasted.

Picture the scene; your customer has read positive reviews in the press about your product, they have engaged with the brand on social media, taken advantage of your sales promotion efforts and now ordered your product through your website. So far so good. You then dispatch the item and that is when everything is suddenly out of your control. You may well dispatch products with a highly accountable and well-respected courier service, but they can’t dictate precise delivery times beyond an estimated window, and they cannot be sure that the whole of that window will be convenient to the buyer, or that they will certainly be able to stay indoors during that time to receive their parcel. All of the hard work on the marketing side can be undone by a missed delivery creating delays and causing buyers to go out of their way to retrieve failed deliveries from depots.

Consumers need smarter delivery options that are accessible and can be confidently encouraged by emarketers alike. Buyers quickly become fed up with poor fulfilment, broken parcel promises and delivery windows that force them to be tied to their home or risk missing their packages. What is needed is greater flexibility on behalf of ecommerce firms and delivery fleets, as well as innovative technology that can accept deliveries on the behalf of consumers even if they are out. Digital marketers also need to engage more with the fulfilment side of campaigns and go beyond the current approach of creating a great campaign and then simply hoping for the best on the fulfilment side.

An Econsultancy Multichannel Retail Survey revealed that online shoppers are already demanding more flexibility in delivery options. Retailers must meet these demands to increase sales. A fixed date for delivery was the most popular choice (31%), followed by next day delivery and the ability to collect from stores (both 24%). But as Econsultancy pointed out, “the common theme here is that, unlike standard delivery within two or three days, these options provide more certainty for customer and enable them to plan around delivery dates and times”.

Secure, personal delivery and return pods are undoubtedly desirable additions for any modern home. They’re smart, affordable, convenient, and also go a long way to solving some evolving practical issues of modern living – namely the growth in our appetites for ecommerce, a boom in desire for parcel and package post despite waning volumes of letters, and an increase in demand by consumers for flexible, premium delivery options.

According to the Centre for Retail Research, online retailing in the UK in 2013 grew by an average of 16.8% to £38.83 billion. In 2014 online retail sales made via smart devices in the UK are expected to grow by 62% to a total of £7.92 billion. Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) chief information officer Tina Spooner is even more bullish: “With online shopping having become part of our everyday lives, the growth levels we are seeing in the e-retail market won’t be slowing down any time soon. We predict that the UK online retail market will achieve 17% year-on-year growth during 2014 and we also expect the £100 billion threshold will be broken, with a staggering £107 billion predicted to be spent online in the UK alone this year.” To take full advantage of this booming market, digital marketers and ecommerce businesses must promote and support new delivery mechanisms and processes that make the final link in online retail fulfilment fit consumer lifestyles. Parcels and packages must always come to the buyer, and never the other way around.

Did you know that with an anticipated 930 million parcels being delivered on behalf of UK retailers this year, most people will waste an average 31 hours and 48 minutes just waiting at home for deliveries when they could be getting on with their lives?

The take home point (excuse the pun) for emarketers is fulfilment has got to be as creative and flexible as digital marketing or our hard effort will result in nothing but disgruntled customers and even worse a social media crises we can ill afford to deal with.


By Karl Wills, CEO at Pelipod

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