Retailers look to optimise use of delivery data

The former CEO of the UK's largest retailer, Tesco, has suggested that the retail and carrier industries have made encouraging digital progress in recent years, and that moves are being made to address consumers' outstanding concerns with fulfilment.

Participating in a panel discussion held earlier this week at supply chain solutions provider MetaPack's The Delivery Conference, Sir Terry Leahy said he is confident that over the next few years retailers will have new ways of utilising customer data generated at the point of delivery, to help grow their businesses and increase shopper satisfaction.

"I'm pleased to see some of the innovation going on now, and the customer in control of the delivery experience," explained Leahy, who is a shareholder in the MetaPack business and is currently chairman of discount retailer B&M.

He added that some of these solutions will create a "step change" in how consumers feel about the retailers they buy from.

One solution announced this week is a new mobile app from MetaPack, which will be launched later in 2014.

The mobile tool, which carriers and retailers can make available to their customers for online order tracking, aims to provide proactive notifications on delivery and dispatch. It will also give customers an opportunity to post feedback about their experiences, which MetaPack CIO Richard Orme believes is an important development.

"The consumer's voice often gets lost in the delivery process," he noted.

"There's lots of innovation in this area but not a single point for the consumer to go to. We're aiming to increase the level of trust."

Essential Retail understands that the service will be trialled with one retailer later this year, and once it is rolled out to the wider industry MetaPack is confident it will give retailers a better understanding of their customers' online shopping behaviours.

A study set to be released later this month by the e-tail trade body, IMRG, supports the notion that UK consumers would welcome any tools offering them more comprehensive information about their online orders.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG and the lead author of the report, said that the option to give special delivery instructions and the capacity to gain as many details as possible about an order are key consumer requirements.

He explained that the preferred channel for communication is currently SMS, but he expects mobile apps to become a battle ground in the future.

"The key message is that these innovations cannot add to consumers' costs," Starkey added.