Six factors that improve online delivery user experience

By: Amy Bulsara

The large choice of products and services available online means customers are more picky than ever.

If their experience of your proposition fall short of their expectations, they can simply turn to another retailer, and there are plenty of them to choose from…

So how can you please your customers and prevent product damage without inflating your operational costs?

Here are six factors that improve online delivery customer experience.

1. Easy returns

Easy returns are one of the things customers look for when shopping online. Recent research by ReBound has found that 92% of respondents consider returns important and 49% very important when making purchasing decisions.

Returns rates are also increasing. 40% of respondents under the age of 35 admitted they return more than they did two years ago and a third expects to return more than 6 items a year, according to the ReBound study.

However, online retailers don’t always make it simple for their customers to return faulty or unwanted items. Macfarlane Packaging has found that 30% of parcels submitted to their unboxing survey last year did not have sufficient information on how to return the goods. 21% of respondents also admitted their packages arrived ripped, damp, dented or opened, and 20% of packages weren’t a good fit for the product.

Step by step

Place clear returns instructions on your website

It may sound simple but providing easy to find, detailed information on how to send items back is key.

The majority of respondents in the eCommerce Consumer Behaviour Survey conducted by Advantec last year admitted they had aborted an online purchase because the retailer didn’t have a clear or suitable returns policy.

Make sure your returns policy is evidently visible on your website and keep it accurate and up-to-date. Many customers lead busy lives so ensuring they are able to find what they need promptly will make their shopping experience more enjoyable. This in turn will encourage them to purchase from you again in the future.

Shopping online is simple and convenient but buying items such as clothes without trying them on first can be tricky.

Supply customers with detailed descriptions and good quality photos of your products – the better your website content, the more informed your customers are, ensuring their expectations of the product are accurate and reducing the likelihood of returns.

2. Good communication

Communication is crucial in building relationships with customers and, when done properly, it can promote customer loyalty.

Once your customers make a return, let them know you received it and provide information on when they are likely to have their refunds. Keeping customers in loop helps reassure them and contributes to offering an outstanding shopping experience with your brand.

72% of UK customers only consider brands that understand and care about them whereas 54% feel more loyal to brands that recognise their preferences and priorities, according to Wunderman.

3. Return options

Make it easy for customers to return products by offering a range of options. Some customers prefer to return products directly to stores while others like sending them back by post.

Nobody, however, likes receiving products that arrive damaged and lack of information on how to return unwanted or faulty items will only add to the initial frustration. Protect your brand and avoid customer dissatisfaction by ensuring your parcels contain clear returns information and your packaging is easily returnable.

Consider offering free returns if possible. 35% of UK shoppers in the Royal Mail study admitted that a free returns policy would increase their likelihood of purchasing more regularly from a particular seller.

4. Minimised product damage (and packaging waste)

Broken glass

Products that arrive damaged not only inconvenience your customer but also impact your brand and incur additional replacement and logistics costs.

A survey by Clouder has found that 72% of respondents think retailers use too much transit packaging and 66% admit they received an over-packaged order more than once in the past year.

Ensure your packaging is suitable for the size and shape of your products. Using only as much packaging as it is necessary will help you minimise packaging waste, save on packaging materials and prevent parcels from bursting in transit due to overfilling! Your parcels will look smarter too, delighting your customers and offering a more enjoyable unboxing experience.

5. Returnable packaging

Receiving items that arrive damaged or don’t meet customers’ expectations can be disappointing. Consider sending your products in packaging that can be easily reused for returns. Firstly, it will spare your customers the hassle of finding alternative packaging, showing off the level of services you can offer and enhancing customer experience with your brand.

Secondly, it will help ensure your products are returned to you safely in the most suitable packaging, limiting the likelihood of product damage in transit. Making customers have to find their own packaging can limit the influence on how the products are sent back to you.

Lastly, including a second seal strip on your box will help intensify security on return transportation, preventing parcels from opening and exposing any attempts of tampering.

6. Faster packaging operation

The speed and efficiency of your packaging operation is key to getting your products to customers quickly and efficiently, and processing your returns.

There are a few things you can do to ensure your packaging operation runs smoothly.

Ensure you get your returned stock back into the supply chain promptly to avoid backlog and stress associated with piling orders. Failure to do so can impact your ability to fulfil upcoming orders and potentially leave you with out of date stock for write off.

Train your staff and make sure their benches are well-organised and offer easy access to all the packing materials they need. This will help them work more efficiently and better manage the increased workload.

Automating your packaging operation will help you pack more efficiently. Auto-boxing, for example, can significantly reduce your packing time as all packing, sealing and labelling are done automatically.

Automated machine systems adjust the size of the pack to offer the best fit for your products, allowing you to benefit from an increased output and lower labour, consumables and delivery costs.


By: Amy Bulsara, Marketing Manager - Retail, Macfarlane Packaging 

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