Poor Delivery Planning has Consequences | Descartes Routing UK

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Poor Delivery Planning has Consequences

A poor home delivery experience undermines the perception of a retailer with the consequence of bad reviews and lost repeat sales.

UK retailers need to understand the potential impact of poor delivery planning and the consequences that a bad home delivery experience can have. Not only can it lead to bad reviews online, but diminished customer loyalty and lost sales.

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In recent research conducted by SAPIO on behalf of Descartes it was discovered that deliveries are failing to achieve complete customer satisfaction, with almost nine in ten customers (87%)  not always satisfied with the home delivery service they received.

Two in three UK Consumers reported a delivery problem in a three-month period. The most common issue was a late delivery (23%) but they were almost just as frustrated with a delivery at a time other than when it was expected (18%), and around one in ten had experienced a failed delivery when the products didn’t arrive at all (13%). Many consumers also wanted the products faster than could be delivered with 14% of consumers complaining about delivery times that exceeded their acceptable wait times.

Last Mile Delivery Planning

More consumers are buying more products online than ever before, so the efficiency of last mile delivery planning becomes even more important. Home delivery planning will get more difficult with the increase in online shopping, shortage of UK delivery drivers, increasing fuel prices and the growing number of clean air zones. The cost of last mile delivery will only increase. Retailers and delivery companies need to use all of the tools available to them to keep productivity and delivery density high to control costs.

Traditionally delivery operations have relied on batch delivery planning. This involves taking all the orders for the next day and planning their deliveries the night before. This is inefficient and inflexible. A dynamic delivery optimisation solution is the answer. Delivery schedules are updated in real-time as and when new orders are is taken. This works right up to the point when the vehicles are loaded and dispatched. Dynamic delivery planning over a number of days leads to a more efficient delivery solution and optimises the fleet and delivery density to its maximum potential.

The Delivery Issue

Poor delivery planning is hugely inefficient and leads to late or missed deliveries or untapped delivery capacity. To avoid missing deliveries delivery planners will allow a contingency in their schedules. However, when drivers are ahead of schedule park up and wait rather than deliver to a customer early. While others will attempt delivery ahead of the allotted time and miss the recipients only to leave the parcel in a “safe place”, with a neighbour, or worse, on the doorstep. In the Descartes research 18% of UK consumers suffered items being left in an insecure location and 17% experienced damages to their delivery. (Descartes UK & EU Home Delivery research ) This leads to an increase in customer service calls, refunds or replacement goods that will also need delivering.

A customer’s perception of a retailer is profoundly affected by delivery problems, 24% of consumers lost trust in the retailer and 23% said they did not buy from that retailer again. (Read the Research Here)

Consumers that experienced a poor delivery are more likely to share their negative experience with their friends and family (19%) and 14% decided to make fewer online purchases altogether. This loss of customer loyalty and sales is damaging for online retailers, especially now with consumers having the option to visit physical bricks and mortar shops.

Providing a top-quality delivery experience not only maintains consumer loyalty and increases future sales, but also keeps costs down. Consumers who are able to select a delivery time slot at their convenience are more likely to be in at the time of the delivery and be satisfied with their delivery. This also has the added bonus of reducing goods returned to depot, being lost or damaged through being left in an insecure location. It also eliminates the need for a second delivery, keeping costs down and delivery slots free for future new orders.


Retailers have seen a boom in online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic, but unless they invest in their delivery planning and meet or exceed their customers’ expectations, they risk losing them to other retailers. Improving the whole shopping customer experience must include the delivery. Just 16% of UK consumers say they are totally satisfied with the delivery service their receive and retailers that improve their home deliveries through more effective delivery planning will gain a competitive advantage over the others.

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