How to Prevent Failed Deliveries

Failed deliveries are frustrating for everyone involved. This all-too-common issue can arise from a variety of situations: poor weather conditions, heavy traffic, or most often, the purchaser not being home to accept an order. Not only do customers fail to receive their delivery on time, but retailers pick up the cost of further delivery attempts. 

As you’d expect, these missed opportunities are massively expensive for businesses — Loqate reports that the average cost to a retailer in the UK is nearly £200,000 per year, by way of operational costs, damage to brand reputation and decreased customer retention.

While we can’t control the weather (yet), there are some things that businesses can do to avoid missed deliveries. In 2022, we have more technological means than ever before to liaise and be transparent with consumers, so that everyone can stay informed on the journey from purchase to delivery.

Read on to learn our top tips for preventing failed deliveries, minimizing unnecessary expenditures, and improving your business’s customer experience.

1. Offer flexible time slots

The best way to ensure that your customers are home to receive their orders is to let them choose their own delivery time. Naturally, this would be a bit of a logistical nightmare if you gave them a choice down to the minute, but a small selection of time slots at purchase can allow individuals to plan their movements around a given window. Alternatively, you can give rescheduling options once they know their allotted time, to avoid drivers making fruitless attempts on the day.

When offering time slots, it’s important to be precise and flexible. We all lead busy lives, and estimating too wide of a window could lead to a customer not knowing when they’ll have to be in — while many of us also work away from home and need slots to fit around our schedules. Some courier services now offer evening slots for daytime workers, such as London’s CitySprint which provides 6pm to 10pm windows. This added flexibility can minimise failed attempts and satisfy the large base of customers that can’t be in during the day to accept deliveries.

2. Introduce real-time visibility

A popular recent advancement in delivery practice is GPS tracking. Using real-time updates, drivers can show customers where they are on their route. This way, customers can plan their schedules and adjust their movements accordingly, especially if couriers are running particularly early or late. Accompanying this tracking information, it may be helpful to provide options to reroute or cancel delivery should a conflict arise.

With this data also available to retailers, delivery managers can track the day’s progress from the company’s end, which is vital to help plan optimised delivery routes and audit courier performance. A range of industries now use tracking to refine their services, from taxis to construction to law enforcement. With added transparency, businesses can provide customers with personalised updates or further options when needed. Most modern smartphones come pre-loaded with GPS capabilities, so making use of this simple tech is an easy and accessible means for any driver to keep each party informed of the day’s movements.

3. Communicate thoroughly

As we’ve learned, successful delivery is a joint effort between the seller, courier and customer  — and when these separate parties are working together, communication is key. Providing regular shipping updates from the moment of purchase can avoid potential confusion and help to manage expectations down the line if something goes wrong. Many companies opt for both email and SMS updates, and these might include notifications of dispatch, reminders of delivery, and instructions for what to do after a failed attempt.

During any correspondence, it’s also a good idea to list key information back to the customer, such as delivery name, address, and the goods that were purchased. Unfortunately, accidents happen —  and it’s easy enough to purchase an incorrect product or supply the wrong contact details. By consistently highlighting this information, you give customers the chance to spot any mistakes that need correcting and contact you prior to a delivery attempt. To that end, it’s also practical to provide your business’ customer service information and reachable hours in these same updates.

4. Provide pickup options

Offering alternative delivery options can be the difference between your customer receiving their order or missing it, or even influence whether they place the order to begin with. Many consumers won’t be available to accept deliveries during working hours and require alternative arrangements to collect their purchases.

One innovative solution that large retailers like Amazon have started to adopt is parcel lockers, which allow customers to pick up deliveries themselves. These are typically in locations like local shops and post offices, providing customers with an alternative way of getting their parcel if they know they won’t be home to accept it at delivery time. This solution also conveniently streamlines the delivery process for drivers, saving on vehicle mileage and time spent travelling to each individual residence.

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