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Half of German consumers encountered fulfillment issues

German retailers seem to disappoint their customers. A whopping 48 percent of German consumers say they have experienced problems when shopping online in the last twelve months. Customer’s expectations regarding services rise, so retailers should invest in optimizing their omnichannel fulfilment, a study suggests.

This study is called “Customer Pulse Report 2015” and is conducted by JDA Software and Centiro. It found out that of those who had problems when ordering some online in the last twelve months, deliveries often came late (48%), while 45% said they had received a missed delivery card although they were at home to receive the order. Also, one in four (24%) told the researchers they had damaged goods delivered to their home, while 26% said they never actually received their goods.

Consumers likely to change their supplier
“It’s clear that consumers will vote with their feet if their expectations aren’t met”, the researchers say. And this will affect online retailers directly, as almost two in three consumers say they would be likely to change their supplier after a bad fulfillment experience. So, retailers should focus more on flexible fulfillment options as well as a fair returns policy. Because, the more online shopping becomes mainstream, the less customers are willing to accept said issues.

In countries like the United Kingdom Click & Collect is already a widely accepted delivery method, but in Germany it is still emerging. Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) said they used Click & Collect services when they ordered something online. Reasons for choosing this method, are avoiding delivery charges (49%), convenience (30%) and being more confident they would receive their items than if they would have chosen for home delivery (23%). That’s not something German retailers should be proud of, the study suggests.

But that’s not to say there aren’t any problems with Click & Collect. The most commonly problems cited were long waiting times in-store due to a lack of staff (19%), followed by out of stock products (18%) and staff being unable to locate items in store (15%).

‘Offer reliable and convenient fulfillment service’
Dirk Homberg, Retail Customer Executive at JDA, says Click & Collect could be a chance for German retailers to get back to being profitable and to participate in the growth rates of ecommerce. But in order to do that, they need to define their role in omnichannel. “Online retail continues to be an extremely competitive battleground. The winners will be those retailers that can offer a reliable and convenient fulfillment service to consumers, rather than simply focusing on speed and price.”

Problems with the returns process
Part of a good fulfillment service could be an increased focus on returns. Consumers do not only want to buy items where and when they want, they also like this flexibility when it comes to returns. That’s why 78 percent of respondents say they first look how easy a shop’s returns policy is, before they decide to choose this shop. German customers don’t like to send back their purchases by post or courier (18%), but they also don’t like having to pay for getting their goods returned (26%). And one in ten consumers don’t like the fact they can’t return their online purchases in the store. But aside of all these discomforts, there’s more to worry about, as 16 percent said they found it difficult to find information about the returns process.

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