The currently leading parcel service providers in Germany are increasingly coming to a standstill. In a large study entitled “Satisfaction with the last mile” with 1,049 online customers, we investigated where the problems lie and found that the industry urgently needs to wake up. The dissatisfaction among online shoppers is already gigantic today.
It seems as if parcel service providers have become so intoxicated with their growth that they have completely lost touch with the recipient’s reality. The results clearly show that the interests of consumers are currently not being taken into account at all. This cannot be in the interest of consumers, nor can it be in the interest of online merchants active in Germany.
Far more than ⅔ of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction about how the package reception works for them — which is really alarming: only 13% are satisfied with the status quo. We asked why.
The most common reason is that they don’t want to collect their parcels (31%), but want to receive them comfortably at home. For parcel service providers, picking up parcels from a post office, parcel shop or neighbour is practical and cheaper, but not in the best interests of the recipient. The second most common reason for dissatisfaction is perceived unreliability (27%). According to the survey participants, in many cases parcel couriers simply don’t ring the bell and hand the parcels in somewhere else, deliver them a day later or the delivery forecasts are completely wrong. The third most common reason is delivery time (23%). These lie exactly parallel to the working hours, so that quite naturally often nobody is at home.
These results clearly show that online orderers want reliable home delivery. The attempt to force alternative delivery locations such as parcel shops, parcel machines or offices is not in the interest of the recipients. In addition, the involvement of the recipient in the delivery process comes to a natural end when the number of parcels has reached a certain level. Among those surveyed by us, more than 16% already receive a parcel in their household at least every second working day. And who wants to run after a parcel every other day?
2. The problem on the last mile is a barrier to growth in online retailing
Interestingly enough, there are two groups of frequent customers in our data. One group has found a working solution for the many packages and feels comparatively little stress with the package delivery. The solutions of the satisfied customers are partly very creative. For example, the respondents stated that grandparents are always at home or that the employer still allows private parcel delivery and that parcels can be transported home by car on a daily basis.
However, there is also a second group and they feel the greatest stress in connection with receiving parcels. These are the customers who have not yet found a solution for their many orders.
In particular, the group of frequent customers who feel an above-average amount of stress is the one who is dangerous for online trading. The situation on the last mile is now so bad that this group does not want to order any more online because of the lack of convenience. A startup from the USA, Doorman, has shown that a convenient delivery option can even double the online purchase volume. Unfortunately, the startup has been based on its own success, because the flat rate offered for the delivery of windows of convenience could not be profitable. Nevertheless, this example shows what a significant effect a convenient last mile can have on online order volumes. Unfortunately, to date none of the German parcel services has any convenient and sustainable solution on offer for frequent customers.
3. Sending parcels and returns is even more stressful than receiving parcels
One topic that is often neglected in public perception is the sending of parcels and returns. Our data show an even higher dissatisfaction with the status quo among respondents (73% dissatisfied).
When asked which of the two problems weighs more heavily on them, even a majority says that parcel shipping is even more stressful. And the respondents already send an average of 3.4 parcels per month and household. A problem that is widely underestimated.
If you also ask more detailed questions here, you will find two main topics that annoy online orderers when sending parcels: (1) You always have to transport your parcels to a delivery point, which causes a lot of stress, especially with larger parcels and/or impractical opening hours. (2) Also, online shoppers don’t like the time it takes to buy postage, print the shipping label and pack it.
As a general rule, online merchants should try to make returns as easy as possible for their customers. The simpler the entire online shopping process, the more likely it is that the customer will remain loyal and continue to shop online in the future.
On the other hand, as a retailer you can also benefit from the convenience of your customers at short notice: More than half of the respondents stated that they do not return a return more than once a year because the shipping process is too time-consuming for them. Whether this pays for a long-term customer relationship, however, is up to the question.
The focus must be on customer needs
All in all, there is great dissatisfaction among respondents today about parcel delivery and, to an even greater extent, about parcel and returns shipping. In our opinion, this is due to the fact that parcel service providers have so far focused too much on efficiency optimization and too little on the end customer.
We at nello are therefore taking completely new steps on the last mile and starting in 2019 will launch nello night logistics, a new parcel service that makes parcel delivery and collection more convenient than ever before: flexible, reliable and sustainable. If you want to be one of the first users of nello night logistics, you can register today on our waiting list.