When it comes to online retail, Australian consumers are increasingly requiring faster, more efficient and traceable delivery services than ever before. A trend that has been compounded in recent months as retailers scramble to secure their online businesses in the face of COVID-19 induced store closures.

This explosion in e-commerce has in turn affected delivery firms that have had to manage increases in delivery volumes whilst simultaneously managing new social distancing regulations and decreased staffing. It is clear that despite best efforts, consumer demand is still outstripping some firms of their delivery capacity. BluJay research, conducted in 2020 and taking in 7012 individuals over the age of 18 across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, found that while 85 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the overall delivery experience, only 22 per cent of those people have a delivery experience that always meets expectations. It is clear that there is more to be done.

With Black Friday getting underway on 27 November this year, retailers clearly have a lot of work to do. Depending on performances set this Black Friday and holiday shopping period, e-commerce businesses will look to favour transportation and logistics firms that have the expertise to make sure they get customer deliveries right in future courier contracts.

Why Black Friday is bigger than ever

According to research from Australia Post, Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019 was a record-breaker with year on year growth of 31.6 per cent. As Australians increasingly turn to online shopping due to COVID-19 (the most recent statistics, again from Australia Post, indicate 31 per cent of us have shopped online in 2020), it’s clear Black Friday this year will again be massive with Click Frenzy earlier in November reporting a 32% increase in purchases.

So, what are the issues that are stopping Australians from being completely satisfied with their delivery experience? It’s worth noting that delivery is the key interface your business has with its customers. Sure, you can have a great website and a seamless check-out experience, but if the product is late, damaged or the courier leaves a delivery slip when there’s clearly someone home, you’ve got a problem. This means that retailers must choose their transportation partners wisely to ensure the delivery experience matches the customer’s purchasing experience.

Delivery impacts your image, which is why it’s important to get it right.

Cost and convenience are show-stoppers

The research BluJay conducted unearthed the fact that cost of delivery is top of mind for 87 per cent of people. Next up in importance is the expected delivery timeframe or, looked at another way, the speed of delivery. Just over 71 per cent of people said speed is a factor when they look at overall delivery performance.

Consumers are also looking at a few other factors when it comes to delivery. If you’re offering free shipping, then you’re going to come out ahead. Fast delivery goes without saying, while having tracking information available is also important.

Tracking information is something every online business needs to get right, because it sets the expectations your customers have about when they are going to get the products they ordered. If a product doesn’t arrive on time – when you said it would – or if the package tracking service is clunky and hard to navigate, then consumers will be unhappy. This is going to reflect poorly on your business and limit the number of customers that return for repeat purchases.

The top ways you can keep your customers informed, according to the findings, is via email, SMS and even via social media messaging services such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. All age groups are happy with having tracking information shared with them those ways, while a younger subset (those aged between 18 and 49 years) are more open to receiving push notifications from an app.

Looking at returns and lessons on delivery

Virtually all the consumers surveyed preferred free returns – for obvious reasons. If a product isn’t right, consumers want to know they can get a painless refund.

In general, people in Australia and New Zealand prefer going to a Post Office to return goods, while those in SEA are keen on drop off points.

The lessons for this Black Friday are clear. Consumers want low-cost delivery that is fast and has delivery expectations about when goods will arrive that are clear and easy to understand. Customers also want reliable shipments, and ones they can follow through the tracking method of their choice.

Solving those delivery problems will mean that your customers have an excellent, rather than mediocre experience. That’s something we should all aim for.

Paul Soong is regional director for Australia & New Zealand at BluJay