In the UK, there are a plethora of carriers and delivery services that can enable retailers and shippers of all sizes to offer a range of delivery options to suit their online customers. Providing convenient and cost effective delivery options is a key part of persuading your customers to buy from your business rather than from a competitor.
In the last five years, the UK parcel delivery market has adapted to retailer and customer demands for a wider range of cost effective delivery options.
There is now a variety of delivery options that can be offered, using the main parcel carriers that can deliver the standard 1-man parcel. Let’s take a look at the most common options.
This generally refers to cheapest delivery option on offer by a shipper – although these days this can actually refer to Next Day Delivery! In most cases, standard delivery means that that the order will be delivered to a customer within a range of 2-5 days* after order has been placed.
Next Day Delivery
Does what it says on the tin. A next day delivery is that which occurs the day after a customer places an order, when it is placed by a specified order cut-off time. When offering this delivery option, make sure that the order cut-off time is clear to the customer and even use it as a call to action to help persuade the customer to place their order. Both Next and Amazon use this to great effect.
Day of Choice / Nominated Day / Specified Day
Enabling customers to choose their required delivery day allows them to choose the day most convenient for them to receive their delivery, and avoids customer anxiety that results in a wider delivery window. This option is surprisingly easy to offer as the order can be held back to be despatched the day before for delivery on a next day service.
AM/PM or Evening Delivery
This is a flavour of the previous two delivery options but with increased specificity of the timing during the day. For example: Morning (8am – 12pm), PM (12 – 5pm), Evening (5-10pm). Actual time slots will depend on your carrier and which of these you offer will depend on what your customers need. It is even possible to offer this using a Royal Mail service.
Same Day Delivery
With the advent of Shutl (first used by Argos), a same day service is becoming a more popular and cost effective option – where previously it may have been an adhoc arrangement with a local courier. In this case, it is not so much a same day delivery as ‘delivery within x minutes of order’, but it achieves the same thing. Currently, most retailers fulfil orders for same day delivery from a local store rather than despatch from warehouse – however this is more for reasons of geography and expediency.
Delivery to Collection Point
The challenge of delivery to customers that are simply cannot be at home to receive them is a challenge that is being addressed by companies like Collect+, ByBox, Hermes Parcel Shop, and now, UPS Access Point. Offering such a service enables a customer to choose a convenient location to collect a parcel from, where a home or work address is not practical. For these parcels, the customer will collect it either from the agent (which could be a local shopkeeper) or it could be an unattended pick-up from a locker.
Click & Collect / Collect from Store
Many of the larger UK retailers are offer customers a Click & Collect option, which allows customers to place a an order online, and then collect the order from their preferred store branch. Retailers that do this usually fulfil from their central DC rather than from the store branch, so it can take a few days to arrive. However this depends on the retailers own economics and store space constraints.
Reserve at Store
This is not a delivery option as such. A reserve at store option enables a customer to reserve an item at a store branch, for collection and payment later. For this option to work online and alongside other delivery options, the customer must be able to view inventory levels at a given store branch.
These are the most common options available for the UK consumer to receive the products that they order online. Which delivery options are the most appropriate to a business to offer will depend on business operation, carrier charges and customer demand.
*In the UK, the number of days that carriers operate is 6 days a week. Check with your carrier to find out what days they accept parcels and deliver parcels.
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