The choice consumers face when shopping online these days is truly massive. There are very few companies that have total control over their markets, and what’s more is that many of them sell exactly the same products. Most consumers can simply use Google shopping to identify the cheapest seller, and then that business has immediately won their custom – it’s very difficult to stand out in such an environment unless you can offer something more than just the product you’re selling. Online retailers can only impress so much, when their interaction with the customer is minimal. There is however, one area in which there’s space to make a difference, and that’s in the delivery of the product. Here in the UK, where distance and distribution isn’t so much of an issue, consumers demand and want their products yesterday. Seemingly every day we see something new from a retailer or courier to meet this demand.
Take a look at the recent Black Friday and Boxing Day sales for instance, because nearly every retailer you can think of took part, it was very hard for any of them to use price reductions to actually draw in customers. Overall volume of shopping was up because of these sales, but the challenge of drawing customers to your business specifically was still very much present. There’s also the challenge of getting those customers online rather than to brick-and-mortar rivals. What was the solution? Massive, loss leading discounts on next day delivery using fast couriers companies like TNT UK however, this could very well be the norm soon, with next day deliveries no longer being the best option – some retailers are now able to offer the exact same day delivery too.
Solving issues with technology
We’ve already briefly touched on customer service, and this of course goes a little bit further than simply offering fast delivery. It’s actually making that delivery. There can be a lot of distrust with certain couriers that have led to some interesting new developments. Stories of disreputable couriers and customers alike mean that Royal Mail are now mulling over the idea of photographing packages on delivery with a special micro camera to prove they actually got there – that way there’s no arguments from either side.
The development of courier technology gets even more futuristic than that though. Remember Amazon’s drone delivery stunt from a while back? Turns out it might be more realistic than we all thought – Jeremy Clarkson last month unveiled another prototype, along with the indication that there’s a development centre here in the UK as well as the US.
What are your thoughts on this delivery arms race? Would you prefer faster delivery, or just more reliable and accurate timings?