The coronavirus pandemic and multiple national lockdowns have seen online shopping skyrocket. Online sales as a percentage of retail sales rose by over 50% from February 2020 to April 2020, taking them to 30.2% of all UK retail sales. This percentage has increased further in the 2021 lockdown, reaching a new peak of 36.5% of sales.
With this huge rise in online shopping comes increased pressure on both B2B and B2C haulage and logistics providers. Direct-to-consumer shippers had more deliveries to complete than ever before, while business suppliers needed to keep up with higher stock demands.
This has been a mixed bag for the sector. Many businesses in sub-sectors including refrigerated food were able to grow as a result of higher consumer demands. But shocking RHA data from May 2020 showed the disparity between businesses. 73% of hauliers said their cash flow has significantly reduced, while 83% said their volume of work was lower as a result of lockdown. Across the sector, 46% of trucks were inactive and a quarter of drivers were furloughed.
Delivery issues affect customers and hauliers
Delivery problems also reached an all-time high, with 81% of consumers experiencing an issue with parcel deliveries between March and November 2020. Complaints to Citizens Advice about delivery issues trebled, with the charity’s data showing almost a third of consumers experienced a delay with their delivery. Citizens Advice also reported that 18% of people had lost money as a result of damaged or missing goods since the first lockdown, 40% of whom lost over £20.
Delayed, damaged, and missing goods have an impact on everyone involved. A Voxware study has shown 30% of consumers are less likely to shop with a vendor who hasn’t delivered on time. This has doubled from 15% in 2016, evidencing the increasingly high demands of consumers. If you lose a customer’s parcel, this can cost £5,300 per delivery. This dramatically impacts retailers who rely on haulage firms to deliver their goods, but it also spells bad news for hauliers.
B2B logistics providers may find that businesses who can’t maintain adequate stock levels will stop trading with them. Equally, B2C haulage providers are at risk of complaints from consumers, which may result in the business you provide services on behalf of ending their working relationship with you.
Preventing damaged, delayed, and lost goods from ruining your reputation
The consequences of delivering a poor customer delivery service are dire. In some cases, the loss of one key contract can see a haulage business go bust. Here are some top tips for keeping your end customers happy.
Implement tracking software
This is one of the best ways you can increase your customer satisfaction. 87% of consumers say tracking is important or very important to them when ordering an online delivery. This feature has become more widely accessible than ever before, meaning it’s not restricted to enterprise delivery businesses anymore.
Tracking software also gives you full visibility of your fleet, allowing you to identify existing or potential delays. If you can see one of your drivers is heading towards standstill traffic, you can easily divert their route to prevent a delayed delivery. These solutions provide you and your end customer with an estimated time of arrival (ETA) which will automatically update based on your driver’s journey. So, even in the event of a slightly delayed delivery, your customer will be kept in the loop, resulting in fewer calls and complaints to your back office.
Consider haulier-specific insurance
Many of the issues that cause delayed, damaged, or even lost goods are out of your control. In serious situations, your vehicles could break down or your goods could be stolen. Even under these circumstances, consumers are entitled to refunds. It seems unfair that you should pay these costs on top of things like fixing or replacing your vehicle. That’s where haulier-specific insurance can come in. By protecting your business with insurance, you can mitigate the cost of compensating customers.
Combining insurance with electronic proof of delivery software is another way you can protect your business. The sad truth is that hauliers can face false claims of damaged or lost goods. Without a robust proof of delivery solution in place, these claims can be difficult to fight against. Electronic PODs combined with insurance will allow you to refute any false claims and give your business financial protection.
Assess your fleet for any potential issues
There are a number of ways the goods you deliver can get damaged. Sudden movements when your vehicle is in transit can cause damages. Sometimes this is preventable – and telematics tracking can help instil better practices amongst your drivers. But other times, it’s unavoidable. The climate can also impact your deliveries by exposing your goods to damaging heat, moisture, or debris.
Examine your fleet to ensure they’re adequately equipped for the types of goods they’ll be transporting. If you transport refrigerated or frozen items, your truck needs to be in tip-top shape to make sure no sunlight creeps in and spoils the food. Equally, businesses transporting fragile goods should use packaging and pallets that adequately protect the items. Performing tests can also help you foresee any issues with your fleet that you might not identify with an inspection alone, helping keep your HGV load safe.
Online shopping and deliveries have hit an all-time high in the past year. Many surveys have also shown that consumers plan to continue shopping online after the pandemic. This increased demand means it’s more important than ever to deliver an outstanding customer experience, whether you’re delivering B2B or to consumers. Complaints about delivery services have also hit a new peak, and data shows customers won’t return to suppliers whose delivery service is poor. By taking these three easy steps, you can mitigate these risks and reap the rewards of the shift to online shopping.