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Fifty per cent of UK consumers were willing to abandon a shopping cart if they weren’t presented with delivery options that suited their needs

No one needs to tell food and grocery businesses how quickly the last mile is changing. Fluctuating order volumes and more supply chain volatility mean agility is non-negotiable, and keeping customers’ needs top of mind is paramount – which means backing up your delivery promises with the right approach.

It can be hard to keep up with changing needs and market conditions. IMRG’s most recent Consumer Home Delivery Review showed greater demand than ever for rapid delivery turnarounds, frequent delivery notifications, clear communications, and the right delivery options. Fifty per cent of UK consumers were willing to abandon a shopping cart if they weren’t presented with delivery options that suited their needs.

A recent DispatchTrack report further illuminates how quickly the goal posts are moving when it comes to successful deliveries. (The data here is from US consumers, but US data on consumer sentiments often foreshadows trends here in the UK.) Two-thirds of consumers considered “on-time” delivery (not late and, crucially, not early) the best aspect of a positive delivery experience. Meanwhile, 60% of consumers said they wouldn’t hesitate to abandon a business if a delivery doesn’t arrive within the scheduled window.

Transparency is also a must, as evidenced by the fact 90% of consumers report wanting to be able to track their orders. But in spite of these strong consumer desires for transparency and timeliness, frequent late deliveries and a dearth of communication continue to frustrate consumers.

Online grocery is projected to keep growing, which means it’s imperative for grocers to put careful thought into how they orchestrate their deliveries if they want to keep leveraging them as a sustainable business practice. Here are a few things grocers and other food delivery operations need to do to keep consumers satisfied.

  • Offer real-time tracking: no matter the industry, customers want to know when their order is due to be delivered and where the driver is along their route.
  • Communicate early and often: proactive texts, emails, and calls can also help provide transparency and decrease the odds of a failed delivery – something that’s especially important when delivering perishable items.
  • Provide sustainable options: customers have shown a willingness to adjust their behaviour if they know it will help the environment, and many will choose greener deliveries if given the choice. This can have a positive impact on brand loyalty as well as making it easier to go green.
  • Leverage AI and machine learning to improve your predictions: on-time delivery is everything, but estimating arrival times with legacy processes is dicey. AI can help you precisely predict arrival times during the delivery planning stage, then generate live updates as delivery data comes in.
  • Highlight sustainable practices: studies show 60% of UK consumers are trying to get better educated on how their decisions impact sustainability. If you’re rolling out green logistics initiatives, you’ve got a great chance to boost the customer experience by educating consumers on how their delivery decisions impact the environment.

There may be a lot of frustration around delivery right now, but some of that is likely just growing pains for an evolving sector. As a right-time delivery approach becomes more common, seamless on-time deliveries and delighted customers can and should become the norm. To win at home delivery, grocers and other businesses need to respond with better delivery options and understand customer preferences.