May 19, 2020

Australian retailers must offer better delivery and returns or risk alienating customers

Retail Australia
Nigel Doust
Harry Allan
3 min
Australian retailers must offer better delivery and returns or risk alienating customers

Australian online retailers are failing their customers by offering inadequate delivery services, and they must improve delivery options or risk alienating customers, according to last-mile delivery solutions provider, Blackbay.  

Blackbay partnered with to complete the recent Blackbay and MeeMeep Consumer Delivery Preferences Report which consisted of 1212 respondents. MeeMeep is an Australian start-up delivery company that creates joyful delivery experiences through leveraging innovative technology and a curated fleet of drivers and empowers customers to transform the last-mile delivery fulfilment industry.

The report reveals that just 17 per cent of respondents indicate that parcel deliveries meet their expectations, with regard to being on time and undamaged. Despite this, 89 per cent of respondents said they were ‘satisfied’ with their delivery experience.

Nigel Doust, CEO, Blackbay, said, “This conflicting statistic shows there is confusion as to what makes a good delivery experience. Customers seem to accept that mediocre services are the norm, which provides a clear opportunity for Australian online retailers to differentiate themselves by providing a far superior delivery experience. Currently, Australian online retailers are failing their customers when they could be doing so much more.”

Blackbay’s global last-mile software solutions are specifically developed for the transport and logistics (T&L) marketplace.

Justin Williams, CEO, MeeMeep, said, “Currently, Australian consumers appear to be unaware of the enhanced delivery options offered in other regions. This report clearly shows that there is a demand for dramatically better delivery experiences than Australian’s tolerate today. MeeMeep’s mission is to resolve the experience gap and provide joyful delivery experiences to everyone, everywhere, every time.”

“MeeMeep believes that the most powerful and impactful online retail experience really starts with the ‘click to buy’ button. That is where the really hard work starts and the average retailers hurt their customer and their brand - and the really great retailers excel. 

“Retailer brand perception and preference is truly crystallised through the delivery experience and the resultant emotions felt by the customer. Unfortunately, this crucial element of the retail experience is often neglected or forgotten.  This creates an opportunity for the more capable retailers.”

A significant delivery dilemma across the globe is that 85 per cent of consumers prefer packages to be delivered to their homes, with the ability to sign for them, but 32 percent say they are not normally home to receive deliveries.

The report also showed that more than half of online shoppers consider the ease of initiating returns very important, The UK Consumer Home Delivery Review 2016 conducted by Blackbay and International Media in Retail Group (IMRG) found similar results in the UK. The ability to easily and quickly return packages is an issue for customers. Only 61 percent of respondents were satisfied with the returns service they receive.

“This is the 7th year Blackbay and IMRG have executed the report and each year the importance of an improved returns process increases,” commented Doust.

Australians can learn from the mistakes retailers have made in other regions by prioritising the returns process. This can also achieve better costs savings. When returns are collected sooner, and refunds issued promptly, the retailers can then resell those goods more quickly while enabling the consumer to buy replacement goods faster.

Doust said, “By giving consumers access to the same collection options as those offered for delivery, retailers can streamline customer experiences both in purchasing and returning goods. That’s a win-win situation.”

Online retailing is increasingly competitive and retailers must find ways to differentiate themselves. One way to do that is to offer better, individualised delivery and returns options. To do this successfully, the T&L industry needs to deploy scalable delivery solutions.

The report is available for download via

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Jun 9, 2021

Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business

Kate Birch
3 min
Teaching the MIT Sloan Executive Education program at Asia School of Business, Prof. Padurean talks innovation, smart skills and digital transformation

As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?

In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.

You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?

They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.

Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening. 

I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something. 

How important are smart skills in leadership today?

Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.

I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other. 

So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?

Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’. 

Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here


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