Secret shopper report, chapter 3: opportunities

Colleagues discussing business opportunities


Full disclosure – this is a chapter we didn’t actually plan on writing in this report.

We didn’t set out to include an ‘opportunities’ section but, as we did our research and wrote our findings, it became a section too important to omit.

When we conducted our secret shopping, it became very obvious that there are some considerable gaps in the customer experience, waiting to be filled, and that the retailers we shopped were of differing maturity levels when it comes to delivery experience.

Oppourtunities graph

From November 2020 to May 2021, we shopped online with 60 ecommerce retailers of differing size, shape and model, to conduct in-depth analysis on the best and worst post-purchase customer journey experiences in the market today.

Based on our unique scoring criteria, we found that just 13% of retailers were offering experiences that set customer expectations – meaning 87% of retailers are below customer expectations or not mature enough to ensure they’re offering basic customer journey optimisations.

We found some key areas in which retailers are falling short; some ‘quick fix’, ‘low hanging fruit’ that is being missed by many… creating a gap in customer delivery experience and a huge opportunity for the brands and retailers who want to take advantage and add value.

In this chapter, we’ll run through some of the figures from our secret shopper findings, and present the key areas in which there is a glaring gap in creating a fully connected delivery experience.

Checkout and purchase opportunities

  • Only 84% of brands and retailers had delivery options signposted on product pages. Seems high, but that still leaves 16% of retailers not setting delivery expectations early enough in the journey.
  • 25% of retailers weren’t giving delivery options at checkout.
    And we classed 35% of retailers as having ‘standard’ delivery options (simply basic ‘3-5 day’ style offerings).
Checkout and purchase oppurtunities graph

As covered in chapter 2; it’s a case of the earlier, the better, when it comes to delivery signposting. If customers are getting to the checkout and they’re seeing your delivery offering for the first time, it’s not good enough. But, this was the case for 16% of our shopping experiences.

Offering accurate delivery timescales at the product page is a really easy win. A great opportunity to ensure customer delivery expectations are set and a realistic promise is being made.

The biggest opportunity at the checkout is for retailers to offer multiple, flexible delivery options. A concerning 25% of retailers gave no delivery choice at all – which is likely to be having a serious, negative impact on conversion. But we classed 35% of retailers as having only ‘standard’ delivery offering – meaning options simply included categories such as ‘3-5 days’ and didn’t cover sufficient flexible options (such as next day, nominated day etc.). If retailers can get the dynamic checkout experience right, they’re winning.

Communications opportunities

  • 51% of brands and retailers are using a single communication channel.
  • Less than 40% of brands are using an app to communicate delivery updates – app adoption is a critical way of driving brand engagement.
  • 54% of our journeys had delivery communications from both the brand and the carrier – this is a huge amount of duplication and over-communication.
Communications oppourtunities graph

In an earlier chapter, we discussed some examples of journeys in which retailers nailed the channel mix of post-purchase comms. 51% of our retailers sent updates through a single channel, rather than offering multiple touchpoints for convenience and transparency. As we’ve covered, and mention below, over-communication is a risk – but underutilization of owned space is a missed opportunity. For example, less than 40% of retailers are utilising their apps for push notifications – a simple fix, with huge CX impact.

A whopping 54% of retailers duplicated communications by sending updates from the brand and the carrier – there’s is an open market for retailers who can absolutely nail this part of the journey. Offering a fully immersed brand experience in post-purchase comms is the holy grail, and would offer complete competitive advantage and considerable business value for the brands that nail it. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not hard to do – which is why this figure is so surprising.

Tracking opportunities

  • Only 36% of retailers offered branded tracking. The majority (46%) offered carrier tracking only.
  • 18% had no tracking pages at all.
Secret shopper Tracking oppourtunities graph

As seen in chapter 2, the tracking touchpoint was definitely the weakest of the post-purchase areas we covered. This is backed up by the finding that only 36% of retailers actually offer branded tracking, so there is huge opportunity for the market to capitalise on this gap and make the simple step away from carrier tracking hand-offs (which 46% of retailers and brands rely on).

Again, the biggest issue at this touchpoint was that 18% of retailers didn’t give us any tracking functionality – meaning our primary way of getting updates on our parcel status was to get in touch with customer services with a WISMO enquiry.

Move on to chapter 4 next, for a full list of each retailer and brand we shopped (including what worked, and what didn't)...

The data used in this report is based on varied sample sizes, based on availability of data at the time of writing.