The Covid19 pandemic has impacted the whole world, and consumer habits have changed to adapt to this ‘new normal’. As we have spent months locked down in our homes, online shopping has become the way to purchase essential and non-essential items. Even as the shops re-open, fear of returning to the high street due to coronavirus will lead to many continuing to mainly buy online. As well as changing the way we shop, the pandemic also led to disturbing supply chains, overloaded carriers and click and collect locations closed. For many brands, this meant delays to deliveries and trouble getting stock. Luckily, consumers during this time have been more forgiving of delays and grateful for what they are able to get their hands on, understanding that these are different times for all of us. However, this could lead retailers into a false sense of security that consumers will continue to allow this. With buying online likely to continue to be big business, brands need to be ready for the lifting of this temporary ceasefire in consumer expectations as we return to some kind of normal. 

As we continue to adapt and look to the future of e-commerce delivery, some key aspects are increasingly important for consumers buying online: Choice, Convenience, Communication and Conscience. 

Choice and Convenience

Consumers want control over their purchases, and that means giving them more choice, especially when it comes to delivery. Retailers can become obsessed with fast and free delivery, thinking that this is all consumers want. Still, consumers are more interested in the flexibility to choose the most convenient way to get their parcels. Giving your customers options, such as choosing fast delivery, a specific day or timeslot, or the most convenience click and collect location is a key decision factor for whether they buy or not. In fact, 45% of consumers saying they would abandon a purchase if there is a lack of convenient delivery options. *

This is also true when it comes to returns. Often retailers focus on outbound delivery and ignore the returns process. However, it is just as important.  78% of consumers consider the quality of a returns service when choosing where to shop, and 85% of consumers have a preference of how they would like to make a return*. Just as they want quick, easy delivery with a choice of convenient options, they expect the same with returns, so it’s important to give your customers options for how to return their item including convenient click and collect locations, back to the store, or via courier. 

In order to do all this, retailers need to work with multiple carriers to have more access to different delivery options that are convenient and cost-effective. Sometimes this can seem like too much hassle, and brands don’t want to have to handle multiple relationships, contracts, pickups and invoices. However, having a multi-carrier strategy with a delivery partner like GFS helps you get all the benefits of multi-carrier without struggle managing them. You get all the benefits of customer choice and convenience for the full delivery and returns experience, without just one relationship and one pickup. 


Communication is key, and during the coronavirus pandemic, it has been more important than ever. With retailers balancing peak level volumes paired with the inevitable supply chain and delivery disruption, keeping consumers informed has been important to keep them happy. Brands who do not let the customer know about delays or changes to their usual customer experience risk a bad delivery experience and loss in consumer confidence.

The desire for communication will continue as we move on from the pandemic. 70% of consumers consider all types of pre-delivery notifications important*. Customers expect to be able to track their parcels in real-time to be fully aware of where it is in the process. Communication means a good delivery experience and more change in repeat purchasing. This applies to returns too, with 80% wanting confirmation that their returns parcel has been received*. This ensures more transparency on the process and when to expect the refund. Communication is not only good for the consumer, but it’s also good for businesses. Managing the expectations of the customers means you cut down on customer enquiries asking for updates on their delivery or returns. 


Climate change has become an increasing focus for customers and businesses alike. The modern consumer is more conscious of their day to day choices and its impact on the environment. Retailers must consider their own carbon footprint in the future, as consumers start to look for ways to be more sustainable. However, although consumers want businesses to take steps to help the environment, they don’t want to have to pay more. 73% will not choose an eco-friendly delivery option if it costs more*. It’s important for businesses to look at ways they can reduce their own environmental impact, without passing on the costs to the consumers.

Going multi-carrier can also help businesses become more sustainable. Instead of just working with multiple carriers, GFS multi-carrier services mean that retailers can consolidate their parcel shipments, reducing vehicles on their road and showing their customers that they are reducing their carbon footprint.

What Does The Future Hold?

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the future is unknown. Consumer habits have adapted to the changes that 2020 bought along, but in the long term, they continue to want choice, convenience and good communication, as well as environmentally conscious brands. In the future, retailers need to make sure they are handling each of these issues to ensure that consumer confidence remains high, whatever happens.

*IMRG Consumer Home Delivery Review 2019/20

Authors bio:
Name:  Bobbie Ttooulis
Title: Executive Director
Company: Global Freight Solutions (GFS)
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