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Four delivery tips to avoid customer disappointment

A customer comes into the store to collect an item they had ordered into store. You search around the store but can’t locate the item. Thankfully a quick check of the courier track and trace system shows that the item has been delivered to the store. But now where is it?

You can ask the person who received the item where they put it, but when you see the name signed in the track and trace system you don’t recognise it. How do you help the customer?

For busy retailers, whether you receive the occasional delivery by courier or receive product ‘just in time’ means you need a courier service that works for you. Let’s face it, no-one wants a drama with deliveries or receivables, and disappointed customers can be quite unforgiving

Setting up a good delivery process isn’t quite as sexy as a fancy piece of technology, but as we all know successful business is about getting the fundamentals right. Get the process right, and the results take care of themselves.

From my time delivering to retailers as a courier driver, through to advising some of the country’s largest retailers on courier processes in my current role, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t when it comes to receiving couriered goods. I’m going to share with you four easy tips to help you improve your process for receiving courier goods and avoiding tough situations with customers like the one described above.

First things first. People.

Courier delivery is a people business, and as successful retailers know, it’s the relationships you build that really count. So get to know your courier! A friendly word makes the day go better, we all make a bit more effort when we feel we know someone, and they remember us.

Tip one: The signature matters!

Fix the problem before it becomes an issue, always sign legibly and print your name clearly when receiving courier deliveries. It sounds really simple but you’d be surprised at the amount of people that do not sign their name properly. Tracking information will display the name given to the courier who delivered the item. By ensuring you and your staff sign their name correctly and legibly, it is then very easy to see who signed for the item so you can ask them where they put it.

Tip two: Designated drop off.

If you have a particularly busy store, a designated delivery point makes life much easier. A designated pick-up or drop-off position in the shop or storeroom means the courier goes straight there, and with a staff member nearby to receive, everything runs smoothly. Simple and smart, just like that place you always keep the car keys – right!

Tip three: Barcodes are your new best friend.

Perhaps you already have a drop-off point, but staff can’t always be there to sign for the delivery – but you still want the peace of mind and proof of delivery being made. Barcodes can save the day! Most courier companies offer some form of ‘Authority to Leave’ (ATL) barcode which can be affixed in a drop-off point. The barcode is linked to the courier computer system and is basically like another form of signature. When the courier delivers an item to the drop-off point, they scan the ATL barcode in place of getting a signature. So when you look at the tracking system, you can see that the item was successfully delivered to the drop-off location.

Tip four: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

One of the biggest sources of frustration for both receiver and courier can be a misunderstanding on what times the courier can access your store or premise. Talking with your courier about this can help determine a time that works for both of you. If your courier has limited flexibility with times, in some cases your courier company may be able to help find alternative solutions. It’s all about asking the question!

Following these easy tips will help you keep track of your deliveries and stock, even when it all gets busy – so you’ll have more time to focus on your customers and staff, and less wories about misplaced items.

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 750 June / July 2017

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