The massive increase in online shopping has led to an explosion in home deliveries, and has spawned a whole new industry with problems of its own.
Shoppers are looking for more convenient delivery options from their service provider. Almost half of UK shoppers have abandoned a shopping cart because they are not satisfied with the delivery options.
Failed first time delivery costs the industry a fortune every year, and they are actively seeking cost effective alternatives. Up to 60% of families in the UK will not have anyone at home during the day to accept delivery of a parcel purchased online.
Many new firms are appearing to help address this problem. There will be some eventual winners who will not only survive but will thrive. In the meantime there will be significant casualties.
The appropriate solution will vary according the geographical region. As you will see from the examples below, some solutions will be perfect for cities and urban area, others will suit sparsely populated areas, where transport is much more difficult.
Some couriers are setting up networks of partners who are 24 hours a day, or at least are open outside office hours. They use the partner network as delivery and collection points. The partners, often late night stores or petrol stations, will perform this service for a small fee, in the hope of benefitting from additional traffic through their business. The network can also be used to facilitate customer returns.
Other companies in the UK are setting up a network of lockers where parcels can be left for collection. An access code is sent to the client by text or SMS, to allow them to collect the parcel.
Another partnership is arranging for clients to collect parcels at train stations. This is aimed at commuters who will collect parcels or deposit returns on their way to and from work.
Another idea is peer to peer deliveries, this is already popular in Scandinavia and the United States. In this model, run by Nimber , ordinary people act like couriers, taking parcels wherever they are going . They claim to be able to cut costs by 80% for bulky items. Posti.uk is a rival service just becoming established in the UK.
Uber Rush transports products instead of people In the Unites States.
Morrison’s supermarket now offers lockers to allow parcels to be collected from their stores.
CirySprint has launched a service called On The Dot, guarantying delivery within an agreed one hour time slot, ensuring that someone will be home to collect the parcel.
Amazon now has a Prime Air drone delivery system.
Instacart is a USA grocery delivery service, promising to get groceries to your door within a couple of hours of ordering from a selection of retailers.
Deliveroo is a London based company, seeking to revolutionise take –away food delivery by organising delivery from restaurants.
Rapid advances in Technology will continue to revolutionise delivery methods on offer.
Key factors for consumer when selecting delivery options
So what are the key factors for customers when selecting a delivery service? Opinions vary about what is important to customers.
Neil Ashworth of CollectPlus , the UKs largest network of collection and drop off points, with more than 5800 locations in the UK alone, says that price is not the deciding factor.
He believes that rather than paying a premium price for next day delivery, many customers would prefer a cheaper price, and be prepared to wait an extra day or two to receive their delivery.
Other factors are reliability –will the carrier deliver when they say they will?
Do they offer a tracking service so that clients can track their product, see where it is and know when to expect delivery?
Convenience is important as we have discussed above –people do not want to be out when their parcel arrives.
And speed is also an issue key to clients, although many will accept a trade-off between speed and price.
Choice and flexibility are other factors, with some companies offering the opportunity to switch delivery times, even after the parcel is dispatched.
Undoubtedly alliances will be formed, with retailers and service providers sharing resources.
But what combination of services is best for the consumer? For example a service offering fast delivery may be less successful than one offering convenience and reliability.
Consumers prize choice above all else, and want to select the option that suit them.
Whoever best estimates the importance of these factors to the client, and designs the service that will deliver what they want at the right price, will win this war.