Picture the situation. You’ve been weighing up whether to treat yourself to that luxury item for ages; checking out where sells it at the best price, which online store will give you the most cashback, how soon they’ll be able to deliver it to you.
Your finger’s poised over the ‘purchase’ button, re-checking all the details for the tenth time to make sure you haven’t accidentally arranged for your £1,000 order to be sent to the neighbour.
And then it’s done. The order’s been placed and you can’t wait to have your shiny new necklace/bag/watch/laptop. Ideally, as soon as possible, and at a time that fits around your hectic schedule. After all, you’ve paid for it.
In the luxury sector, brand image is so painstakingly crafted that it’s surprising that delivery isn’t a bigger concern for retailers. After all, for many shoppers, it’s the parting experience they have with the brand. Do it badly and it’s the retailer’s reputation that will suffer.
For this reason, many manufacturers are becoming ecommerce retailers themselves too, providing them with greater control over their customers’ buying experiences. Victoria Beckham is a good example – you can buy from Harrods or directly from her website.
In the second of our series of posts highlighting the impact of good and bad delivery on brand reputation, we’ve spoken to two of our customers to hear whether the shipping of their luxury purchases changed their opinion of the retailer.
First up, Apple.com. This Silicon Valley giant has revolutionised the UK’s consumer tech market, showing us that electronics can be sexy.
Product and price of purchase? MacBook – £1049
Were you nervous about buying a luxury item online? Not really. Apple are a big brand and beforehand I had faith that the delivery service would be good quality.
Did they offer a choice of delivery? Yes. Pre-noon delivery (£12), pre-9.30am or evening delivery (£15) or Saturday delivery (£18) were all options, but they still didn’t come with a set delivery window.
I felt the inflated prices were too expensive for what was being offered – especially given the value of my order – so I opted for their free standard delivery between 8am-6pm.
How long did the delivery take? Three days. I would have received it much sooner, but because Apple would only deliver between 8am-6pm, being at work and not being at liberty to spend a whole day waiting in for the parcel meant that I missed the first two deliveries.
Was there a different delivery option that you would have preferred that wasn’t available? Yes. Although they advertise a range of daytime delivery options, they weren’t specific enough. For me, pre-noon is still too vague. The local collection points also appear to be very limited – there wasn’t a single business I could collect my order from in the city centre.
Were you kept informed of progress? No. Although I did receive a daily email from the carrier letting me know they were going to attempt delivery, there was no indication of what time they expected to arrive.
What did they do well? Nothing really – I love the products and the brand but my delivery experience was very disappointing.
What did they not do well? They needed a signature from me for the parcel but didn’t name the delivery time. Waiting in from 8am-6pm isn’t easy when you’ve got other things going on in life like work and family commitments.
Rating – 0/5
Delivery cost – free
Next up, Beaverbrooks. This British high street jeweller has been around for close to a century, selling jewellery costing up to £25,000, it remains a big player in the luxury sector here in the UK. But can it deliver?
Product and price of purchase? Wedding ring – £700
Were you nervous about buying a luxury item online? Quite the opposite – I’d seen it in the shop but felt more comfortable being able to go away and think about it rather than rushing in. And of course it meant I could get cashback on it!
I was a bit nervous about the delivery and it was actually the first time I’d ever used click and collect, but it felt like the safer option considering the value.
Did they offer a choice of delivery? Yes. Free collection from their 65 UK stores, free standard delivery for orders over £20, or next day (£5.95).
How long did the delivery take? It took a week to arrive in store, four days earlier than advised.
Was there a different delivery option that you would have preferred that wasn’t available? No, other than to perhaps have next day delivery included as standard with higher value orders.
Were you kept informed of progress? I received an email in advance to tell me what date it was going to be delivered, an estimated time slot and another email later to confirm these details.
What did they do well? Providing the click and collect option. My order was a high value item and I wanted the security of knowing it would be safely received by staff in store. The thing I appreciated most was that I expected them to simply hand over a jiffy bag when we went in, but instead they sat us down, presented us a with a gift-wrapped package to unwrap, gave us champagne, made sure it fit, and polished both the wedding and engagement ring for us. So despite already having made the sale, they still went out of their way to provide a luxury shopping experience.
What did they not do well? All the emails from Beaverbrooks told me to make sure someone was going to be in to sign for the item – there must have been a technical error because it was going to a store, not being delivered.
I then got a second email saying it was available to collect in store after I’d already picked it up. So although the delivery was all fine, I think they could just do with tidying up the process of communicating with the customer!
Rating – 4/5
Delivery cost – free
Two brands whose continued success relies on the satisfaction of customers. Two brands whose very image of luxury is dependent on a seamless and empowering customer journey all the way from purchase to unpack.
Both customers wanted convenience. Whether that was through the item coming to them, or by going to collect the item themselves, the one necessity was that it needed to be on their terms.
The Apple shopper noted that ‘pre-noon’ was too vague and wouldn’t fit with their lifestyle. Rather, one hour delivery slots is the service they were looking for and since the expectations they had of Apple weren’t met, a harsh rating of 0/5 was ultimately given. This review also highlights that while shoppers are willing to pay a premium for a product, this doesn’t extend to the delivery of it which is still seen as a cheap commodity. A challenge for retailers to tackle, and one we aim to assist with by arming them with the right technology.
If you now fancy finding out a bit more about customer expectations when it comes to the returns process, have a read of our commercial director, Andrew Hill’s blog post here.
And if you’d like to know how Electio can help you meet your customers’ expectations when it comes to delivery, call us for a chat on 03300 555 284!
Photo Credit: Kake via Flickr