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The Age of Convenience: Don’t let your first shipment be your last

eCommerce, as an industry, is hitting that point of maturity where the smallest things count the most. The internet has delivered on its promise to offer virtually any product to any purchaser anywhere. The long tail grows longer and longer, but the ability for any individual eCommerce provider to distinguish itself on having the widest selection or lowest price is actually shrinking. The markets are remarkably transparent, making it rare that a consumer can’t find the exact same product you’re offering from a dozen other e-tailers with a simple Google search.

So when the playing field is leveled on price and selection, the consumer turns to the softer variables when deciding to buy products from one retailer instead of another. Convenience ranks high on that list, and few things define the buyer’s view of convenience more than quick and accurate delivery.
Well, that’s where there is a problem. According to a recent IMRG study, eCommerce is leaving a lot on the table when it comes to delivering product quickly and accurately. The IMRG Home Delivery Review for 2014, summarized here, tells us that failed delivery remains a hard problem and costs the eCommerce industry upwards of a billion dollars a year. According to Andrew Starkey, head of elogistics at the IMRG:
“Failed deliveries resulting from orders placed with retailers and marketplace traders each year create in excess of £¾billion of avoidable costs – we cannot afford to allow the pace of innovation to slow.”
Beyond the costs spread across the industry comes the problem that bad delivery experience creates for individual e-tailers. Yes, it creates the headaches of managing returns or re-shipments. But more importantly, in a market where it’s harder and harder to distinguish yourself from the competition, it damages the consumers’ perception of the convenience you offer. It makes them less likely to come back and buy from you again.
The first shipment could be your last shipment. At GDC we spend a lot of time perfecting the use of address verification, identity validation, geocoding, and other specialty services to ensure accurate and timely delivery with the first shipment. It can save e-tailers a lot of money, no doubt. But more importantly, it boosts their ability to compete on convenience in an otherwise leveled playing field, and that means shipping more product to satisfied repeat customers!