How to improve online delivery user experience

By: Ed Turner

Receiving a parcel from an online order is a daily occurrence for many households across the globe. It’s your bread and butter, and as I am sure you would agree, the expectation that shoppers can place an online order one day and receive their parcel the next has never been greater.

We are all aware that parcels that fail to arrive or go missing leave a bitter taste in the mouths of shoppers and more often than not makes them cautious about placing an order from that retailer again.

A failed delivery is a user experience that retailers want to avoid. The importance of getting parcel delivery right first time is critical to maintaining a strong presence in an ever-crowded marketplace.

This article will explain how.

Reasons for undelivered parcels

There are many reasons for a failed parcel delivery. These include incorrect address details, shoppers not in at the time of delivery, and parcels being left at the door. The key is to identify what the key problem areas are for your business and take steps to invest in ways to improve the end-user experience.

One of the biggest problems facing delivery companies is incorrect addresses. Research by Global Data Consortium shows that as many as 18% of addresses completed online contain errors.

Incorrectly filling in your address details when making an international online purchase may seem like a relatively small mistake to make. However, the cost on the retailer to attempt delivery, cost of returns and to cover the cost of re-sending, or refunding the value of the contents can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

Failure to deliver a parcel causes huge frustration for the consumer but also costs the retailer time and money to correct.  A recent report by Accenture shows that 77% of retailers aim to increase investment in delivery over the next two years.

When looking at global parcel delivery and cross-border shipping the anomalies of address formatting or using a template that doesn’t fit into a specific country’s address format can amplify the errors that occur. For example, Parcels in Germany require a Leitcode (like a barcode) to be delivered on time by the Deutsche Post.


Leitcodes are compiled using the recipient's address information and postcode, and automatically routes the parcel to the correct location. If the information is missing, spelt incorrectly or in the wrong fields then the Leitcode has to be manually produced, causing delays for the customer.

Address validation tools are available and can significantly reduce the costs to a business as well as improving the consumer’s overall experience. Benefits to the retailer can include:

  • Reduction in costs of undeliverable parcels, second deliveries and missed deliveries
  • Creating a better consumer experience of first-time deliveries
  • Fewer WISMO (where is my order) calls to customer services from shoppers
  • Reduction in internal costs as there is less manual work required to correct the data
  • Improved brand perception

It is not only incorrect address details that can have a negative impact on the consumer experience. Loqate surveyed 300 retailers and 2,000 shoppers in USA, Germany and the UK and found that 5% of all online orders don’t make it to the consumer first time. The average cost of a failed delivery was 14 euros.

So, what else can retailers do to ensure that they get their deliveries right first time, every time?

1. Check your data

With the high order volumes that come with running an ecommerce business, double-checking your address data is crucial to reducing your failed deliveries. Mistakes can reflect badly on your business and even result in lost customers; cleansing your database and taking steps to reduce the amount of costly failed deliveries will keep your accountant and your customers happy!

2. Communication, communication, communication!


Communication is a key element of a good user-experience – especially if a parcel is travelling across the globe. Whether you use emails or a text messaging service to alert your customers to key points throughout the delivery journey, or your delivery provider does this on your behalf, your efforts will be appreciated.

Make sure you notify your customers with their estimated day of delivery, when their parcel has left the warehouse, and when their parcel has been delivered. These steps can often reduce complaints and help eliminate potential problems by being open and transparent.

3. Consider your returns

Research by Accenture shows that 30% of all products that are purchased online will be returned. They also report that 79% of retailers place return capabilities among the most important criteria when evaluating a delivery provider.

The demand for a better returns service is an important element of the consumer journey to get right and will encourage more orders. Delivery companies are recognising this as a key differentiator and are making investments to deal with return parcels.

For example, Singapore Post (SingPost) invested in an Australian company that uses newsagents as hubs for ecommerce returns. Since this investment, they have seen an increase of 20.1% in revenue. Making the process of returning a parcel a seamless experience is essential in keeping one step ahead of the competition.

4. Agree on an alternative delivery location for your parcel

Sometimes it is not always possible to hand the parcel directly to the consumer. If the parcel cannot be posted through the letterbox, then finding an alternative place for the parcel to be safely left is the next best thing. Allowing your customer to choose a safe place for delivery at the time of ordering – whether that be with a neighbour or identifying a safe place at the location – reduces the need for second delivery attempts.

Padlock on door

International forecasts estimate that global ecommerce will be worth €1.8 tn in 2021.  Shoppers are looking for retailers to offer a seamless shopping experience, they want to be able to shop anywhere, on any device, with a smooth transition from store to their front door.

With this in mind, the quality of parcel delivery has become extremely important for retailers to get right, with increasing demand for faster, cheaper and more convenient solutions being the driving force behind their decisions.

What could the future of international parcel delivery look like?

As clichéd as it sounds, despite the uncertainty of Brexit, the future is looking bright for parcel deliveries. McKinsey reports that ecommerce businesses are aware that the quality of the end user journey is the differentiator amongst their competitors and that getting the parcel delivery right can significantly improve their ecommerce success in what is already a very crowded marketplace. 

Environmentally friendly delivery models are also being considered, shoppers are becoming more environmentally conscious and are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Parcel services such as click and collect are becoming more popular as well as alternative modes of transport such as push bikes for urban areas.

Ultimately, shoppers are increasingly looking for delivery solutions that offer a choice and fit in with their busy lives but are also innovative and low in cost. We live in a society where impatience and instant gratification have become part of our culture, so streamlining your services and getting your deliveries right first time will help your business stay one step ahead of the game.


By: Ed Turner, Chief Information Officer, wnDirect

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