By now, we’ve all heard the statistics. Covid has increased online shopping exponentially, accelerating a trend that was already on the rise. But this increase in e-commerce reliance has not been without its drawbacks for consumers. Namely, the impact on delivery services such as Australia Post and the ongoing delays for parcel arrivals.
Wondering where that dog food you ordered six weeks ago is? You’re not alone. And as we approach the silly season, the strain on delivery providers is only going to increase.
If you run a retail business, you’re likely already dealing with the fallout and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
Research from PayPal suggests online Christmas shopping in Australia is expected to almost double compared to previous years – a year-on-year increase of 90 per cent. And by the time you’re reading this, if you haven’t placed your order already, it’s unlikely to make it given Australia Post announced the cut off for pre-Christmas delivery was December 12, with the postal service expecting more than eight times the monthly average of parcels during the silly season.
For many consumers, waiting around for their goods is taking the shine off online shopping. Now that e-commerce has become a necessity rather than a choice, how can retailers deal with this?
In many ways, online shopping is facing the perfect storm. With states dipping in and out of lockdown and people wary to travel far from home, local online retailers should be best positioned to capitalise on the opportunity. With Covid raging on in other parts of the world, you can forget about timely deliveries from abroad. It’s estimated that around 50 per cent of all international deliveries relied on passenger planes. With few international flights landing in Australia right now, it’s little wonder those sunglasses you ordered from the US a month ago are yet to arrive.
Putting necessity to the side for a moment, people shop online for speed and convenience. Usually, it’s easy and fast. So if they can’t rely on you to deliver on this promise, you need to find a way to replicate it elsewhere.
Click-and-collect is a great option to get around unpredictable third-party delivery providers. Make it seamless and quick and bear in mind that consumers now expect same day pick up.
Curb-side collection is another underutilised approach. Bunnings implemented a drive- -and-collect service at 250 of its largest stores in April, where staff carry goods to the boot of the customer’s car. Granted, not all brands can offer this service based on their location, but a drive-through hub in the lead up to December 25 could be a way to get your goods in more people’s hands.
Another way to deal with this dilemma is to streamline your entire purchase process. Invest in personalising your e-commerce storefront to display relevant offers, whether they are returning customers or ones that share similar traits to your existing customers. Then link this back to your click-and-collect service in a way that’s effortless.
Ironically, in the lead up to Christmas, the more online transactions grow and clog up the delivery channels, the more instore purchases become attractive as the quickest way to solve the problem. As people start to emerge from their homes once again, give them a reason to come in-store. Whether that’s a special offer redeemable in person or a unique and enticing in-store experience, there are plenty of ways to lure them into your store rather than your competitor’s.
Covid has compressed years of digital growth and innovation into months and delivery providers will eventually catch up. In the meantime, make sure you’re not missing out on sales or damaging your reputation with delayed deliveries this Christmas.
_ _ _
Note: Original article appears in the Professional section behind the paywall at insideretail.com.au.