It’s fair to say that a large proportion of consumers have jobs and, as a happy consequence, can actually be consumers, purchasing shiny, new things. But whether they work 9to5 or work in variable shift patterns, it is likely that being home for the delivery of the shiny, new things is not always possible.
In addition, many consumers live in flats with no ‘safe place’, so deliveries have to go to a friend or family member or be delivered to a workplace, where that is allowable. That might be ok for a pair of shoes or Mary Berry’s new book, but that new dinning table / sofa / washing machine / kayak will probably have to go straight to your home and you are probably going to have to be there to receive it.
Can you work from home? Take a day off? Possibly.
But then, can you nip to the corner shop for a pint of milk so you can have a sneaky bowl of cereal? You can’t leave the house as you have been told clearly that your delivery could arrive anytime between 9am and 3pm.
This leaves many retailers with a challenge: how to put goods in the hands of the consumer quickly and at a time that is convenient to them.
Research by Contact Engine suggests that 41% of Britons would rather receive their delivery between 5pm and 9am, rather than the more traditional 9am to 5pm and couriers who want to compete in today’s market will have to find cost effective ways to comply.
Because more and more consumers expect next day, sometimes even same day, deliveries for most items, the challenge of delivering just what the customer wants increases – next day delivery, at a specified, convenient time, with no delays, and ‘please can you carry the item (especially large items) into the room it will live in, carry out any assembly required, and install cables etc. as necessary?’
This shift in consumer expectation will mean that some of the more traditional methods of storing, shipping, and delivering will no longer be viable. And the costs attached to these kinds of services will be considerable.
Consumers have come to expect free delivery. That may have to be a thing of the past, especially in some circumstances, in order to mitigate the costs and be able to provide the service that consumers demand.
Would paying for delivery be so bad, though? In almost any other circumstance, a consumer would expect to pay for excellent service – we even tip voluntarily the people who deliver food to our table in a restaurant (or we should so if you’re shifting uncomfortably in your chair right now, we are looking at you). Free delivery has been handed out as an incentive to choose one supplier over another but now might have to be the time to overturn those expectations and convince the customer that delivery is something worth paying for.
Investment in new technology will most definitely be the key to catering to our changing world, and keeping a lid on ongoing escalation of costs. And if savvy implementation of innovative technology can also reduce the possibility of failed deliveries, which are a heavy financial burden on couriers, what more could be desired?
The couriers that stay ahead of the game, anticipating consumer requirements and finding practical solutions to them, will be the ones to watch.