Last week, an Amazon letter appeared on my doorstep. I was a little taken aback; in the era of multichannel, why would the tech behemoth choose post to connect with customers? On second thoughts, why not? In fact it’s a refreshing move. Cutting through CRM-fuelled white noise is a challenge, and the tangible is reassuringly, well, tangible.
The letter was an offer of one hour delivery. Choose your slot, blah, blah, blah…impressive stuff. However, more importantly it was a gentle reminder in both message and medium that Amazon remain the kings of delivery, and will continue to do so as they push logistical boundaries. Is this, yet another delivery option, going to give Amazon its competitive edge again?
Expanding Mail Rooms
Delivery is one of many e-commerce sales clinchers – this we know. The proportion of baskets abandoned is estimated at 69%, and delivery is undoubtedly instrumental in this watershed moment of the consumer journey. But what, specifically, is it about delivery?
On one battle frontier is timeliness, but on the western front, there is location. Of the myriad options popping up, which has the greatest impact on basket completion?
Take lockers, click & collect and pickup points, for example, or accurate home delivery windows at more sociable times. The options are growing, and while we wait with bated breath for drone delivery, it is simple, incremental gains that are keeping delivery moving.
Since the genesis of e-retail, consumers have used their office post rooms to receive deliveries. It makes perfect sense; you’re guaranteed someone will be there to sign and keep it safe, and a trip to the post room sits nicely alongside doing expenses and writing a blog on a Friday afternoon.
The increased volume of mail strain on companies has been so much that it has been banned at certain institutions. Lost under flat pack barbeques, stag weekend onesies and biodegradable packing peanuts, the muffled cries of post room staff have been heard, and this is now banned in certain companies.
New innovations for delivery are set to include parcel boxes – a locker at your residential address, with access codes for the delivery person and you, keeping the parcel safe. There also have been rumours of a car boot delivery, but nothing tangible has arrived to the masses yet.
The essence of these new delivery options is collaboration, often between unlikely partners. Car boot deliveries are bringing together Audi and Amazon, while Volvo has partnered with PostNord, Lekmer.se and mat.se in Sweden for the same service. Closer to home, the helpful shopkeeper at Hampstead Village News informed me of another great example.
The reinvention of his own small business as a parcel pick-up / drop-off was only due to Amazon’s collaboration with newspaper distributors. Amazon did not reinvent the wheel for local drop off points – they have just done it simpler, better and more efficiently by pairing with established distribution and logistics networks.
Quality and Quantity
Which of these delivery options is performing best then? Well, none of them; in fact that’s not asking the right question. More accurate would be, how many options do organisations need to provide to consumers? The more, the better, it seems.
Most leading retailers now often an array of delivery options. The point is, the emphasis is on consumers and the package meeting somewhere in the middle, to suit their schedule. And the package, being their most tangible contact with the retailer, needs to be either punctual or patient, and of course safe. And dry.
So what does it take to put these concepts into action? Observation, creativity and collaboration, it seems. The ingredients are all there, the logistics in place; it’s just about joining the dots.