Creating a great delivery experience

In an online world that is becoming increasingly competitive, a great delivery experience allows online retailers to create a competitive advantage, to drive repeat purchases, to find new customers and to achieve greater levels of customer satisfaction. While a good delivery experience adds to the positive perception of a brand and drives business value, the opposite is also true. A poor delivery experience erodes trust, reduces the likelihood of repeat purchase and, even worse, leads to others hearing about it. Creating a great delivery experience still remains one of the strongest ways an online retailer can grow their business.

In this article, we capture what we've learnt from our customers, as New Zealand's largest delivery company, about the things that help make a better delivery experience. These are practical tips that online retailers can use to have more parcels delivered first time and to ultimately drive higher customer satisfaction.

1. Creating the right delivery expectations on your website

  • Ensure you offer a number of delivery options that cater for a variety of delivery needs. From getting it delivered today, to slower but more economical options, right through to click-and-collect options. 
  • Don't hide the delivery options behind the shopping cart, promote them prominently on your website as a competitive advantage and one more reason for shoppers to buy. This is especially true if you have options, like express same day delivery, that your competitors don't offer. 
  • Be upfront about estimated delivery timeframes so that the right expectations are set from the onset. 
  • One of the key reasons shoppers choose online shopping is the ability to shop around and compare prices. Make sure you are transparent on what something costs, including any extra delivery and/or return costs. When it comes to cost, shoppers hate unexpected surprises. 
Our eCommerce Market Sentiments Report told us that 30% of Kiwis say easy returns is the most important factor when deciding which online store to shop with, that’s a ranking of third most important factor. 
  • Give shoppers confidence that they can return something if it's not right by displaying your return policy in a way that's easily found. Publishing your returns policy or offering free returns, could improve your customer experience and lead you to greater market share.
  • Consumers are increasingly looking to buy from businesses that have clear sustainability practices.
Our eCommerce Market Sentiments Report showed 35% of shoppers would actively choose not to shop with stores that are not environmentally sustainable. 
  • Clearly communicate your commitment to sustainability and demonstrate it with more sustainable delivery and packaging options. 

30%

of Kiwis say returns are the
most important factor
when shopping online.

35%

of Kiwis would actively
avoid 
stores without
sustainable practices

2. Capture the correct information upfront to improve first time delivery 

Having a parcel delivered first time leads to a more satisfying experience for shoppers and in NZ Post's experience, it led to a massive 79 point higher Net Promotor Score (NPS). So what can you do to facilitate more first time deliveries? 

  • Through our own experience, we found that parcels with validated addresses are significantly more likely to be delivered first time. If you haven’t already, we highly recommend  validating your customers' shipping addresses using a service like Google, NZ Post's Parcel Address API or Shopify plugin (NZ Post Address Search). This helps avoid misspelled addresses or incorrect post codes that require manual intervention into an automated parcel sorting process. 
  • Capture any special delivery instructions at the shopping chart, giving shoppers more confidence that their parcel will be left somewhere safe if they're not home (e.g. 'leave under BBQ') or that the delivery driver will take extra care. 
  • Ensure all shopper instructions are clearly displayed on your shipping labels, so drivers know exactly what to do.

Package with label

3. Provide visibility throughout the ordering and delivery process

With the rapid digital advancement in recent years, the likes of Uber have changed the game around visibility. This has naturally changed expectations around online shopping and delivery experience.

The last eCommerce Market Sentiments Report told us that visibility of orders and deliveries are two of the most important features that influence shoppers to choose a particular online store over another.

Shoppers want peace of mind that their order has been received and is on its way to them. Knowing where a parcel is every step of the way, and having options to make changes if needed, allows your customers to feel in control. 

  • Capture the shopper's email address and/or mobile number, and let shoppers know that you will use this information to keep them informed with notifications. Provide this information to your delivery partner. 
  • Notifications should be sent to shoppers at key moments, like when the order has been received, when the item has been dispatched or when it's on its way to being delivered. These can be by email or by text.
The NZ Post experience was that notifications improved first ­time delivery rates by up to 50% and drove NPS 30 points higher. 
  • Ultimately, shoppers want to know when to expect their parcel so they can make plans to be home to receive their items. Work with a delivery company that offers accurate estimated time of delivery (ETA) and services like live GPS tracking of deliveries.
  • Give shoppers more control by allowing them to engage with the delivery process and make changes to the instructions while the item is in transit. This could include redirecting an item or providing specific instructions of where to put it. 
  • Close the loop with confirmation when the delivery is successful through parcel tracking. This instils confidence that the delivery was successful, reflects well on the retailer, reduces customer queries and assist with any later investigations that may be needed. 

4. Create a lasting impression with your packaging

72%

of Kiwis expect
eco-friendly packaging

  • Ensure items are well-packaged to prevent damage and delays (due to needing to be re-packaged.) Cushion an item's corners and think about the level of protection it would need in case it is dropped or bumped. Many shoppers are turned off by excessive packaging that may appear wasteful. Consider the impression the parcel size, and level of packaging material, may make on your customer. 
  • Our eCommerce Market Sentiments Report tells us 72% of Kiwis expect eco-friendly packaging (e.g. compostable, reusable, made from recycled material, etc). This is an increase from previous years, proving the growth of sustainability becoming one of the most important considerations to consumers. The packaging you choose is one of the most tangible ways to show your commitment to sustainability so work with a courier partner who offers low environmental impact materials, like recycled plastic mailers.

Woman looking at laptop computer

5. After Delivery

Once an item is delivered, a follow up email, text or call helps reinforce a positive experience but is also an important way to capture any feedback and to identify repeated patterns that, if addressed, will improve the overall delivery experience. 

  • Make it easy for customers to give you feedback on the delivery process and follow-up any concerns quickly and personally. 
  • Make returning products as easily as possible for customer by include a return label with all packages.
Delivery plays a big part in how your customers see you.

Arguably the most important thing you can do to achieve a great delivery experience is to choose the right delivery partner. We recommend starting by considering their reach around the country and globe, the size of their network, their service standards, the range of delivery options they offer and their track record for reliable delivery.

Narrow your list down further by looking for partners who are passionate about delivering a better experience for you that lets you grow your business. They are the ones most likely to go that extra mile to create the best delivery experience for your customers as well.

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