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Study: The ‘last mile’ has never been so important—especially for items

Retailers have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to the delivery of oversized goods ordered online.

Some one-in-five (21%) consumers ordered an oversized item that arrived damaged, while 15% ordered something that never arrived at all, according to a study by logistics tech company uShip.

“Ultimately, the research signals the ‘last mile’ has never been more important to the customer experience and oversized shipping remains a particular pain point for many consumers,” said the report.

The study, conducted with third-party research firm YouGov, uncovered consumer expectations and frustrations regarding their oversized commerce experiences and where retailers can improve the delivery process to positively impact the bottom line.

uShip found that customer frustration primarily stems from a poor shipping experience that upends consumers’ daily routine. For example, for those who made oversized purchases within the past year:

• Nearly one-in-six (16%) had to immediately figure out how to transport an oversized item themselves after making the purchase
• Over one-in-seven (15%) reported missing work because they were waiting for a delivery
• One-in-nine (11%) felt like they wasted a whole day trying to track down a purchase
• One-in-nine (11%) had a ‘fight’ with customer service during the delivery process

For retailers, this detrimental ‘last mile’ experience is causing negative repercussions for the brand. In fact, 14% have actually avoided shopping with a brand or retailer because of a bad delivery experience.

Also, 24% said a lack of confidence their oversized item would arrive safely would prevent them from making a purchase. The same consumers also reported:

Shipping concerns: Over one in four (28%) are hesitant to purchase an oversized item because of shipping concerns
Cost concerns: Nearly half (47%) reported high delivery costs cause them to look elsewhere for the same item
Return concerns: One-in-eight (13%) kept an item they didn’t want because the return process was too complicated

But perhaps the most important aspect for consumers purchasing oversized items in the past year is the time and convenience of delivery – an area easily improved with the right technology and business relationships. When asked about what would improve their oversized delivery experience, a few factors stood out:

Proactive Updates: Over one in four (28%) said proactive updates on the status of their order (i.e., push notifications, text/email updates) instead of checking would improve the experience
White Glove Service: More than one in six (18%) said a ‘white glove’ service like hand delivery, product assembly or installation would improve the experience
Delivery Company Choice: nearly a quarter (24%) want more choice in how their package is delivered (i.e. by hand, UPS, Fedex, etc.)
In-home Delivery: almost one in five (19%) said that an item delivered straight into their home would improve their experience
Delivery Time Slots: More than a quarter (27%) said having more specific delivery time slots would improve their experience
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