Research: customer experience with unattended home delivery

Last-mile delivery success depends on consumer acceptance of such services, yet little is known about the unattended delivery experience. To address the challenges in last-mile deliveries, retailers have pushed to develop innovative delivery solutions. In particular, the emerging service of unattended home delivery offers the potential to enhance consumers’ delivery experience, as they can receive deliveries even when they are not at home.

Compared to attended home delivery, unattended home delivery’s distribution advantages include longer time windows and fewer failed deliveries with sustained customer service. In unattended delivery, time windows can be considerably longer because consumers are not required to be at home to receive their orders. Consequently, unattended delivery enables more efficient transport planning and routing of last-mile deliveries.

A new paper aims to provide empirically-based understanding of customer experience dimensions in unattended home delivery. Using an engaged scholarship approach. In a collaborative setting with logistics service providers, retailers, users, and sponsors, the researchers were engaged in the innovation process of developing, prototyping, testing, and implementing an unattended home delivery solution. The delivery service was seamlessly integrated with temperature-controlled reception boxes installed outside participating consumers’ homes. This field study investigated nine households that actively used an unattended delivery service for six to nine months. Empirical data were collected primarily from in-depth interviews.

The study demonstrates that unattended delivery experience is a multidimensional construct that comprises consumers’ cognitive, emotional, behavioral, sensorial, physical, and social responses to the service. The empirical evidence provides rich descriptions of each customer experience dimension, and the research offers a framework and propositions on unattended delivery experience. The findings suggest that no single delivery service can satisfy all consumers’ needs and that the experience of unattended home delivery varied among respondents.

Supply chain managers need to acknowledge the growing importance of customer experience and adopt a holistic approach to it to develop consumer-centric delivery services. Retail and distribution managers should diversify, rather than limit, their service offerings so that consumers can select the service alternative that fits their preferences. This implies that distribution managers must expand their view of delivery services beyond operational and functional aspects, take a holistic approach to manage such services, and develop consumer-centric strategies and operations.

Source: Olsson, J., Hellström, D. and Vakulenko, Y. (2022), “Customer experience dimensions in last-mile delivery: an empirical study on unattended home delivery“, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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