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A third of the UK’s largest online retailers ignore customers during shipping

Only four of the UK’s 100 largest online retailers provide customers with personalised information about the status of their orders, with 27% not communicating with shoppers at all during the delivery period.

These were some of the key findings of a recent in-depth study carried out by post-purchase communications specialist parcelLab that indicates UK online retailers’ obsession with customer service before checkout tails off badly once a shopper clicks to buy.

The research involved placing orders with all 100 online shops, from beauty and household retailers like Boots and Sainsbury’s to clothing outlets like M&S and ASOS, and technology sellers like Currys PC World and Apple. The services offered before and after checkout were then documented in a full report.

Of the 100 retailers surveyed, only 11 communicate with their customers directly during shipping. The remaining 89 either leave this to the delivery carrier or the customer receives no updates at all. This makes it impossible for retailers to offer personalised shipping information or even send out branded communication to at least boost brand awareness. parcelLab’s study also looked at delivery time choice among other factors, finding that only seven of the UK’s 100 largest retailers offered a same-day service, and when this was offered it was at a high price. Only 12 offer free shipping on all purchases.

“Despite various studies showing that shipping costs are a major ‘conversion killer’, the UK’s largest online retailers rarely offer this free of charge,” said parcelLab founder and CEO Tobias Buxhoidt. “comScore, for example, found that 61% of customers are ‘at least somewhat likely’ to cancel their purchase if free shipping is unavailable.”

“Meanwhile, offering personalised post-purchase support not only keeps customers informed and happy, building loyalty, but also provides the opportunity to share offers and suggest complementary purchases, increasing sales,” Buxhoidt added. “And when you consider that our research shows that 70-80% of personalised post-purchase messages are opened and result in 0.5-1% of customers immediately making a new purchase, it’s clear that by not doing this UK retailers are missing out on millions of pounds in potential sales every month.”

Among the UK retailers highlighted in the research as offering a stand out shipping and returns service were New Look as the ‘Overall Winner’, ASOS for ‘Best Checkout Experience’, The Fragrance Shop for ‘Best Shipping Process’, Zara as ‘Best for Delivery’ and Chain Reaction Cycles for ‘Best Returns’.

“Retailers are no longer defined by their products, but instead they are differentiated by the service they provide from initial visit right through to returns,” said Buxhoidt. “Therefore, if a retailer wants to consistently outgrow its competitors, they need to build strong customer loyalty through above average customer experiences. This is just as important after checkout as before, if not more so.”


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