July 07, 2016
Shipping Options and Delivery Partners Essential to Winning the eCommerce Battle, Accenture Study Shows
ARLINGTON, Va.; July 7, 2016 – The right delivery partners and easy website navigation with multiple shipping options are critical success factors for eTailers as nearly two-thirds of digitally savvy consumers report basing a purchase decision on delivery options – often abandoning shopping carts before orders are submitted if the process is cumbersome, research from Accenture shows.
The study, Differentiating Delivery: How to Win the eCommerce Battle, examines an increasingly competitive delivery market that has emerged from continuing growth in online shopping and identifies strategies to help postal organizations and shipping companies retain and gain market share. Among the key findings identified by the study is that organizations need to make effective, dependable delivery options a priority in order to remain competitive. The results are based on a survey of more than 1,100 small- and medium-sized businesses across 10 countries and five continents. 
Continued projected growth of the eCommerce market underscores the importance of the research which shows that eTailers, or online retailers, were nearly unanimous in seeing online sales growth of at least 2 percent, with nearly half (46 percent) of respondents projecting double digit annual online sales growth. Additionally, the study found that a majority (86 percent) of eTailers are planning investments to expand eCommerce activities over the next 12 months. According to the 2015 Worldwide Retail Ecommerce Report from eMarketer, retail eCommerce is projected to account for 7.3 percent of the total 2016 retail market worldwide – a 25 percent increase from 2014 – increasing significantly to 12.4 percent by 2019.
“eTailers are chasing a rapidly expanding market, in which delivery is becoming a critical differentiator and a strategic priority,” said Brody Buhler, who leads Accenture’s global post and parcel business. “There is no doubt that eTailers are getting strategic about delivery and so should parcel delivery organizations.”
Delivery impacts all stages of a consumer’s buying process, increasing the pressure on retailers to provide a seamless online process to purchase and return products. The study showed that two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers have chosen a retailer based on the number of delivery options and three-quarters (76 percent) look at a retailer’s return policy before completing an order.  
More than one-quarter of respondents (26 percent) said they use at least three parcel providers to ensure the best price and to mitigate the risk of lost packages or delayed delivery that might result from relying on a single provider. Despite the possibility of one individual shipper providing all required services, a majority of eTailers (79 percent) still would prefer working with multiple providers.
While an overwhelming majority (83 percent) of businesses survey reported being satisfied with their current primary delivery provider – most likely to be USPS, DHL, UPS and FedEx – the study found that many eTailers are turning to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to reach more consumers and increase revenue, increasing competition in an already crowded marketplace. In fact, the research found that 69 percent of eTailers reported earning 41 percent of eCommerce revenue through an online marketplace.
“Not only are marketplaces moving into the delivery space, but major retailers are now sidestepping delivery providers in favor of their own services,” Buhler said. “Digital is dramatically blurring the boundaries between eTailers, marketplaces and delivery providers.  Adapting to these new threats as well as new opportunities is not only urgent but critical to future growth of parcel organizations,” Buhler said.
The study indicates that to remain competitive within a rapidly changing global eCommerce market, delivery companies and postal organizations should focus on five areas:
  • Happy customers – Globally, a majority (79 percent) of survey respondents said that easy and affordable returns services together with full visibility tracking are the most important features to offer. New services of greatest interest to eTailers include allowing customers to determine when they want their packages delivered (69 percent); delivery notification on the day of delivery (67 percent); ability to coordinate delivery directly with the provider, not the eTailer (68 percent).
  • Parcel returns – Accenture’s research found that consumers want better return options services and would shop more with an eTailer that made returns easy. eTailers placed return capabilities among the most important criteria when evaluating a delivery provider.
  • Price intelligence – eTailers are not only highly sensitive about angry customers, they are equally sensitive about the price of shipping packages, according to the study.  The top reason eTailers stay with one provider is to consolidate volume to secure the best discount on price (cited by 73 percent of respondents). The study recommends that post and parcel organizations should test volume discount levels to make sure they offer terms that promote eTailer exclusivity or primary provider status and that the right digital tools, particularly analytics, can help determine smart pricing decisions.
  • Segmented features – As companies grow bigger, the complexity and diversity of services they require increases rapidly.  Larger eTailers are significantly more interested in services like warehousing and fulfillment or onsite installation of purchases than smaller businesses.  While basic delivery services are sufficient to capture smaller businesses, more robust features will be necessary to help these businesses as they grow.  Properly segmenting customers to develop targeted products to address specific needs are essential to winning the price and feature battles.
  • Cross-border easiness – Post and parcel organizations need to customize their offerings for cross-border, business-to-consumer eCommerce, a market which is projected to grow to $994 billion by 2020. These new cross-border shoppers have different needs and expectations, including predictable delivery dates and costs.  Providers that ensure seamless, simplified and reliable international delivery services will quickly become the primary and preferred provider that eTailers seek. 
The Differentiating Delivery study is based on a survey of 1,124 businesses with one to 500 employees and global revenue from online sales of less than $500 million or greater than 20 percent of their total revenue. All businesses surveyed sold goods that required physical delivery to customers. The online survey was completed for Accenture by McGuire Research in 10 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Learn more about Accenture’s work with postal organizations.
About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 375,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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Joanne Veto
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