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2-man home delivery: the customer view

By Paul Durkin

As customers continue to strive for greater choice and value for money, UK online shoppers now make a staggering 87% of their retail purchases online, up from 80% last year. Whether it is via their laptop or smartphone, the act of buying online is, for many, second nature. This now applies across the board, whether the purchase is groceries, clothing, or, increasingly, big ticket items.  

Regardless of the purchase channel, the customer experience of delivery and returns is now, for many, as important a part of the purchasing decision as product selection and price. Customers have high expectations: from choice of time and location through to a knowledgeable and skilled delivery crew.  When the item purchased is bulky and higher value – for example furniture, white goods, audio, and TV – the convenience and practicalities of delivery come into focus.

As a logistics business, retail delivery sits at the very core of what we do. So, to learn more about customers’ attitudes to home delivery – in this instance the 2-man home delivery model – we commissioned some research. GlobalData undertook a bespoke nationally-representative consumer survey of 1,500 consumers that have used a 2-man delivery service over the past two years.

In this piece, I want to share with you our findings around who uses this service and the reasons why, customers’ expectations around their home delivery, and whether who delivers the goods matters to a customer.

Who is using the 2-man service and why?

As previously mentioned, convenience plays a major part in using a 2-man delivery team. The main driver for customers choosing to use 2-man delivery is the size of the product – it’s too large to take home (cited by 65.4%). A growing propensity for people to buy these big-ticket items online has contributed to a rise in the use of the 2-man service.

Our research showed that younger shoppers, and particularly those in the 25-34 and 35-44 age-groups are most likely to use 2-man delivery.  Due to the generational divide, we can assume that younger shoppers are more tech-savvy and typically have busier social lives. They are likely to be starting a family or moving into their first homes. What’s more, we believe it’s likely that this group will have a lower propensity to drive and fewer DIY skills, which means they are more likely to value the convenience of installation services.

Keys in hand

With many residents in London being young people, as well as the general reliance on public transport, use of 2-man delivery is significantly greater in London than other regions – 62.3% of London shoppers used 2-man delivery in the past two years, compared to the average of 48.8%.

This also mirrors more significant usage among more affluent shoppers, who are  more likely to use 2-man services. These shoppers are less likely to be put off by the potential added expense of delivery, more likely to value the convenience of professional installation, and more flexible with fulfilment options. Just as importantly, these groups are less directly impacted by weak real-wage growth over the past few years, which has subdued demand across many bigger ticket retail categories.

Customer expectations - it’s not just about speed…

The most important issue to customers interviewed in the run-up to 2-man delivery is having clear communication allowing them to feel informed of when to expect their purchase. Having an estimated delivery slot was the most important, cited by 74.9% of respondents. This is followed by being told of any preparation requirements (34.8%) and estimated preparation time (32.8%).

This shows the importance of flexibility over speed. The ability to be able to choose an exact delivery slot is most important to customers (56.9%), compared to just over a third (38.5%) mentioning fast delivery as being an important option.

When it comes to 2-man delivery, we can conclude that there is a greater acceptance that some products will require a longer lead-time – for example when products with bespoke measurements and fittings require professional installation, then this could have a further knock-on impact.

Phones in a row

Do customers care who delivers?

We wanted to understand the level of awareness and preference that customers have of the people and companies delivering their products. When a delivery company does not operate under the retailer’s brand, is the name recognised? And does this matter?

Our research showed that average awareness of 2-man companies is a mere 8.7%, compared to 72.0% for standard brands. This is reflective of lower order volumes and interaction with 2-man companies, combined with the way that 2-man brands are integrated more closely with retailers.

A higher proportion believe 2-man delivery to be important when it comes to purchases of complete room solutions like fitted kitchens (61.6%), furniture (59.2%), and large electricals (50.7%). This is reflective of these products being bulky, and more likely to require specialist fitting or installation. While customers recognise the role of specific 2-man delivery companies, a high proportion (78.9%) want any follow-up interaction to be via the retailer.

Our analysis suggests that the awareness of and preference for a chosen 2-man delivery company will become a more important factor over time.  As customers become more confident in buying big ticket items online, so will their experience and expectations of a high level of service from the 2-man delivery company. Now is the time for delivery providers to build their expertise in this area along with their reputation.

Shipping

Your brand is in their hands

This next generation of delivery people are taking the high street to the retail customer’s front door and into their home. As a retailer, your brand really is in their hands, and it is critical your delivery provider reflects your values by meeting the demands of your customers. A modest delivery team (with good knowledge of your products and trained in the right way), can become the product specialist, installation technician, and, ultimately, salesperson. With the right people on the front line, this presents a significant retail opportunity.

Paul Durkin, Director, Home & Efulfilment, Wincanton

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