The way in which most of us shop has of course changed hugely in recent years particularly for those of us who break out in a cold sweat at the thought of interminable hours spent in crowded shopping malls.
There is not much which cannot be bought at the click of a mouse or a stab on a tablet whilst sitting comfortably at home.
But online delivery systems are key and they need to work well for us to have confidence in buying. This is after all the age where the Royal Mail is phasing out bicycles for delivering post because it expects to become a parcels focused business.
A new publication from the Department of Business Innovation & Skills has just caught my eye in this regard. It is a really good example of how it takes our law makers a few years to catch up with new innovation but catch up they do and it will not be long before such an important area for consumers becomes more carefully regulated to seek to ensure high standards for those buying in this way.
This publication is called a Statement of Principles for Parcel Deliveries. It is not currently law and retailers are not compelled to comply with it but its very existence must surely point to the fact that the government see this as a future key area for consumers and one where it is important to drive out any bad practice. It is also one for online retailers to be aware of as it lays down a standard which the government is clearly expecting to see met.
There are six basic principles:
- Online retailers should ensure that their delivery pricing policies do not discriminate on the basis of a buyer’s location. s location. Surcharges for delivering to out of the way places must reflect actual costs.
- Delivery coverage policies should not discriminate on the basis of location. Retailers should seek to provide the widest possible coverage and not just go for what is easy and cheap.
- Consumers should be given clear and accessible delivery information at the earliest possible stage in the online buying process.
- Retailers should work with carriers to consider how delivery options can be used to increase first time delivery success.
- All relevant delivery information should be provided at time of completion of order.
- Retailers should provide options for consumers to feedback about delivery.
Online delivery systems will become more and more important to us and this Statement is a good example of the government seeing it as a key area and one where I have little doubt that we will see more consumer-focused regulation in years to come.