The past number of months have changed what we considered “normal”. With social distancing and lockdowns in place worldwide, many of us had to change our behaviours and adapt to staying home except for making essential journeys. Even as we emerge slowly from lockdown, the consumer has come to rely heavily on online shopping as their lifeline. As a result, in order for their business to survive, brands and retailers globally have worked to adapt to this new consumer behaviour and in some cases have had to completely pivot their business model.
A shift in consumer behaviour of this scale is a catalyst to a seismic shift in how businesses will operate in the future. This week we spoke to Mark Meade, Head of eCommerce Sales & Business Development at DHL about the trends he predicts to emerge post covid-19 and how brands and retailers can position themselves to be ready for the future of eCommerce post Covid-19.
Mark, tell us about some of the Changes that you’ve seen in behaviour so far during the covid-19 pandemic
We have seen a considerable uplift in eCommerce B2C shipments at both local and global levels which has specifically been driven by the COVID situation and the fact that all traditional bricks and mortar stores have transitioned to online. Everyone simply has to order online without the choice of physically going to a store. We have also seen exponential growth across particular products which I have snipped below for you. These represent the fastest growing products in the industry and are not specific to DHL Express.
Have you had any technical issues or supply chain issues?
The only supply chain issue we have seen is specifically inbound from China due to the high level of PPE material demand from every country in the world. We have also had to switch to a signature release service which means consumers can logon to our On Demand Delivery service in order to sign for their shipment thus negating the requirement to physically sign the courier’s scanner.
Have you noticed any changes to delivery costs?
Yes, in line with all other carriers we have had to implement an emergency situation surcharge due to the impact of the shutdown of commercial airlines as we use these for forwarding shipments in certain parts of the world. For further info on our surcharge see here: https://www.dhl.ie/en/important_information/covid_19.html
What measures have you put in place to retain and grow as much of this surge in online traffic as possible?
We have released targeted marketing for all eCommerce customers via a consultative selling approach where we provide advice acquired from some of our biggest eCommerce customers with regard to clear and transparent COVID messaging that needs to be on their website to ensure consumer trust during this period. We have also gained exponential new volume due to our unhampered delivery performance during this period where we still hold a 96% on time delivery performance. This level of service is unparalleled during this period in our industry. See below our checklist for COVID-19 retail musts:
How are you managing your customer experience during this time?
We actively monitor eCommerce customer performance versus standard i.e. uptrading vs downtrading where we now see considerably more uptrading vs downtrading with the downtrade predominantly down to some businesses being closed altogether due to their interpretation of the lockdown instructions.
We also run a “voice of customer” survey every week on all touch points across our business such as courier delivery interaction and sales representative attentiveness, any scores under 6/10 go directly to a manager where the customer receives a direct call back to understand the lower score.
Where do you anticipate the biggest changes for eCommerce in the future?
The biggest change we estimate in our business is in the area of contactless delivery, even with the more expensive/luxury brands there is significant demand from consumers to deliver to service lockers or for a signature release service. We have recently introduced picture images of delivery along with GPS coordinates that show the exact image of delivery location which negate the need for physical signature.
We have a host of really informative articles on our https://discover.dhl.com/ website for more insight of the future of eCommerce and what it holds.
We have also seen a considerable rise in subscription delivery service with customers such as ASOS offering next day international shipping for €19.99 for an entire year. which ultimately drives repeat traffic to their website because the consumer has spent money on a premium delivery service and will therefore choose this retailer over another because the shipping charges are free on every order after the initial outlay. This is a very effective way to drive traffic and conversion. Consumers will often buy a more expensive product from ASOS as they are saving on delivery. Also know that they will receive their product the next business day.
Do you see a return to normal in some areas or a long term pivot?
We envisage a continued surge in eCommerce B2C shipments for the foreseeable future. Last year it was a significant driver in our growth as a company and this year it continues to flourish as a key product line for us at both local and global levels.
How are you preparing for these changes technically, logistically, practically?
Locally we expect to launch a significant pick/pack and fulfilment solution onsite in our Dublin warehouse to manage the growing demand to provide this type of service.
We have just introduced a significant online tool that can now easily integrate with more than 26 online ecommerce platforms such as Shopify/Mogento and WooCommerce for free which helps eCommerce customer cost effectively and easily integrates their shipping service which means they can focus more time and energy on effectively marketing their products to new countries and regions.
How can we help?
ChannelSight has a team of experts that can help you understand your customers needs better and implement solutions that can help your eCommerce strategy. Contact us today to book a demo with our team of experts.