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The UK Grocery sector – Overcoming delivery challenges

In our recent report Fixing Failed Deliveries, we surveyed over 3,000 global consumers and 300 retail executives to understand the causes and impacts of failed deliveries across multiple sectors, including groceries, food and drink. What we uncovered certainly provides food for thought.

The magnitude of failed deliveries in the grocery sector was one of the key findings we unearthed. In fact, 67% of the grocery businesses we surveyed agreed that failed and late deliveries are a significant cost to their business. This detrimental effect of delivery failure is beginning to be acknowledged across the sector, with The Grocer reporting: “If online is to grow successfully, avoiding the unnecessary costs of a failed delivery are crucial. Because the cost of making home deliveries is high and margins are thin, if they exist at all."

It’s clear that failed deliveries impact revenue - but there is also potential damage to brand reputation, customer satisfaction and retention. According to a Mintel survey, a fifth of Brits who do some or all their grocery shopping online share the same complaint: late and failed deliveries.

When asked about their experience of failed deliveries grocery businesses told us that address accuracy was the holy grail for them, informing us that when addresses are inaccurate or incomplete, 41% of deliveries are delayed, and 39% simply fail.

The challenges facing grocery deliveries

When it comes to grocery deliveries, the reasons things go awry can come from a number of different scenarios.

Verify the address

When customers enter their address details they are likely to be doing so hastily. The final steps of ordering their good are pure admin and rarely a user experience highlight. In efforts to get through the process more quickly, users may omit detail, mistype postcodes and abbreviate address lines. When it comes to the point of delivery these details can make all the difference to delivery success.

The importance of address validation on successful deliveries cannot be understated. Our recent report found that just 68% of businesses in the grocery sector verify address details, with 28% depending on the courier to check the details.

Loqate’s real-time address verification software enables customers to quickly undertake an address search at the checkout, reducing the amount of data they need to enter, improving data quality and speeding up the checkout process. All in all, it’s a sure-fire way to help shoppers get through the checkout whilst ensuring your products making it to their door.

When questioned, grocery, food and drink retailers believe there are three key benefits of address verification:

  • Increased repeat purchases (35%)
  • Reduction of failed deliveries (32%)
  • Genuine registrations (32%)

Address accuracy

Delivery drivers, armed with state-of-the-art sat nav devices are still often left hunting for their intended destination. In recent findings, PostTag reported: 

“On average 45% of all UK addresses are about 50m from where a satnav will take you to” - far from ideal. Delays in updating addresses into software and the complexities of addresses in built-up areas are two potential obstacles faced by delivery drivers.

Finding creative solutions to the dilemma of sat nav accuracy, grocery retailers have started to turn more sophisticated geolocation data to provide their delivery drivers with greater accuracy.

In our recent article we discuss how Loqate supported Sainsbury’s with enhanced location data to improve their delivery processes. Chris Grice, Engineering Manager at Sainsbury’s explains “While postcodes are great for routing mail, they cover a wider geographic area than might be expected. The data we were using provides the centre point, or centroid, of this postcode area”. Loqate supply Royal Mail PAF data to Sainsbury's, and now we also supply data giving 1-meter accuracy which has enabled the Sainsbury's team to ‘scale-up and meet demand’ to help ensure deliveries could be made within the hour timeslot.

What3words is another prime example - it is a simple way to identify and name anywhere in the world by dividing the world into 3m x 3m squares. It then converts GPS coordinates into unique three-word addresses, so that people can refer to any precise location in just three words. This means retailer could deliver picnic ingredients direct to the blanket of their customer in the park.

Is there anybody there? Deliveries fail when customers are not home

During the pandemic, the weekly food order became one of the highlights for many customers, but as the world returns to 'near-normal', customers may fall back into the habit of forgetting their slot. Add to that the real-world demands of the school run, popping round to friends or traffic delays coming home from work – you start to form a picture of the challenge for grocery retailers.

Innovative solutions to these hurdles are forming ever quickly. Grocery giant Waitrose has been carrying out trials with smart locks which enable them to access customers’ homes and bring their groceries right to the cupboards and fridges of their homes. Making it even more important to locate the right property. 

New entrants in the grocery sector have turned their attention to the growing consumer need for on-demand or dynamic delivery. This involves quicker more flexible delivery options, delivering shortly after ordering to a unique location. It’s something that is on the agenda for many retailers.

Address verification to support mobile checkout

With 50% of consumers citing that they have shopped for groceries online in the last 3 months, 75% of which opting to use their mobile phone, grocery retailers are all keen to make sure that their delivery success is just as watertight for their m-commerce customers.

Mobile checkouts can bring frustration, our report revealed that 62% of grocery retailers believe that address accuracy becomes a bigger challenge on mobile.

Again, address validation software can be the hero for m-commerce retailers. Address verification software from Loqate is built with the knowledge that your customers are multi-device users. Our real-time address verification service is built to work on any internet-enabled device, from computers and tablets to any size of smartphone.

Mobile users demand speed and Loqate’s geolocation feature can be used to identify the location of a user and, using single-tap technology, eliminate the need to enter an address altogether.

Delivery success first time, every time

With our recent survey estimating that in the UK an average 7% of grocery deliveries fail, at an average cost of £10.95 per failure it’s no wonder that the opportunity to fix failed deliveries sits high on the wish list of retailers in the grocery sector. It’s also clear that whilst challenges continue to emerge, retailers can overcome these hurdles with the right technology implemented in a user-friendly way. Address verification, postcode validation and straightforward address look-up hold many of the keys to their continued growth.


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Infographic: Make faulty fulfilment a thing of the past
Infographic: Make faulty fulfilment a thing of the past

With eCommerce orders at an all-time high, the retail industry is facing yet another challenge in an already difficult year: failed deliveries. We take a look at the steps retailers can take to improve customer address data and ensure parcels arrive on time and to the right location. 

Ecommerce   |