May 14, 2019
The “death of retail” phrase is the dark cloud of the industry: empty stores and devastated shopping malls. The media and analyst are all talking about the death of retail. Everyone except the consumer. For the consumer, reality is rarely as black and white as it is sometimes painted.
In order for us to better understand our customers' future needs, we have studied the expectations, needs and trends by which the consumer of today is guided. This is the first post of seven in which we take a deep dive into what may be the world's most progressive industry.
Delivery and returns
With innovative logistics solutions and competitive third-party providers, the consumer is placing ever-increasing demands on the distribution, in terms of both time and convenience. It's about creating a friction-free experience. Here are the common instances consumers encounter with shipped items.
1. Long delivery times
“I don't shop online. The delivery times are usually too long. I want to have the product right after making the decision.”
A long shipping window is your consumers’ kryptonite. Customers purchasing from an online store want their products delivered at a faster rate. Technology and competition in the market have allowed many players to shorten their shipping times considerably. The modern day consumer has become accustomed to this and expects rapid deliveries. When these expectations are not met, the consumer loses patience, making an unlikely return.
2. A pain to pick up packages
“I usually don't shop online if it means that I’ll have to go pick it up.”
Picking up packages from the store may have been the norm in the past but times have changed. Customers today expect convenience and picking up packages feels like a complicated process that requires multiple steps. This causes the consumer to avoid shopping online for reasons of convenience. Smart delivery boxes let customers pick up the package at the location that's right for them. The products are bought online and picked up at a nearby store or box, or from a partner company.
3. Complex return process
“Returns are super annoying. I never order anything I may have to send back.“
There is somewhat of a disconnect when consumers buy products online. That’s why it’s common for products to have to be returned. However, the return process isn’t as easy as purchasing. It can be a multistep process that requires return forms and going to the post office. That's why some consumers are hesitant to buy the items on their online shopping cart.
The new standard is to make the packaging resealable. Online retailers want to make it as easy for the customer to return a product as to order it. A return form is enclosed with the order and is easy to apply to your package.
Although what we presented does not cover everything going on in the logistics world, it does give you an inkling of where developments are heading. The delivery methods of the future are not necessarily just about being rapid or available. It's about consumer convenience. It's about adapting to their lifestyle and being present where they want you. The perfect delivery may not even be noticed.
About the Future of Retail Series
For a four-week period, we met with consumers and retail staff, both in a deep interview format and informally out on the town, to try to survey which shopping experience needs are currently not being met. With the help of these insights, we have been able to focus on some specific areas. After that, we performed a comprehensive trend monitoring and business intelligence to better understand this highly innovative retail landscape. The study aimed to identify new opportunities for our customers to create the shopping experiences of the future.