Why Same-day Delivery is a Customer Experience Game-changer

Sep 01, 2013 3:49 PM  By

same-day-delivery-300Remember the scene in “There’s Something about Mary” when Ben Stiller’s character picks up a hitchhiker with a killer idea – 7 minute abs? It’s going to blow 8 minute abs out of the water.

I’m reminded of this when I look at the same-day delivery market. Over the past few years, the market has gone from five days to three days, then same-day to two hours. Combine that with advances in predictive search and it won’t stop until items are delivered the moment you’ve thought about them.

But in this (literal) race for faster delivery, it’s imperative to stop and consider the customer. What do they actually want? Is faster always better? Every multichannel retailer is currently considering whether to and how to compete with these speedy delivery demons.

Why same-day, why now?
Amazon has positioned itself as the leader in the $350 billion online retail market through innovation within the distribution channel, including offering the convenience of clicking online and having the product delivered to your door that day.

So how are you fighting back against Amazon and the continued shortening of the delivery time? No doubt you’ve looked at how to improve your overall customer experience and how to grow the all important direct consumer relationship. And delivery can now become a valuable part of the entire customer experience proposition.

Zappos used customer service as a profit, rather than a cost center, providing industry defining customer experience across all touch points, and driving a big brand and big profit.

How can I wow?
As a multichannel merchant with a national footprint, you have something no online retailer can compete with: inventory within a few miles of the majority of the U.S. population. If you can use these stores as customer-facing distribution centers, you have the ability to run an economical and efficient same-day delivery service via your online channel further enhancing the customer experience.

Besides improving the customer experience, this approach offers the added opportunity of decreasing the need for inventory upstream and a movement towards smaller, less expensive distribution sites.

But same-day is expensive – who will pay?
New models that reduce same-day delivery to a comparable cost to standard delivery are rapidly entering the market. Imagine if your checkout process gave these options: three day delivery – $8, two day delivery – $8, get it today – $8. Which option are your customers likely to choose?

By removing costs from same-day delivery and improving the customer experience the demand grows. As demand increases the brand awareness grows. Brand awareness coupled with affordable and reliable same-day service equates to growth.

Am I ready for same-day?
If you have implemented a Buy Online Pick-up In Store program, you are well positioned in your ability to offers same-day. By using your stores as pick-up centers, you have the foundation to enable same-day delivery.

If you’re like most other retailer websites, you provide two options to the customer if inventory is available: pick-up at the store or delivery to the home. Having identified the inventory available locally and capturing the delivery address, now you only need to bring the two pieces together. Both of these give you various pieces of the information you require, but for same-day you’ll need to bring them together.

For some existing websites, facilitating this change to a same-day delivery process may be as simple as replacing text. For others, it can require a customer-oriented audit of the current process to ensure the required information will be captured with limited impact to the customer experience.

Once the design of the website facilitates the information gathering required, an agile notification system and result infrastructure is required – one that is capable of operating within the time constraints dictated by the collected customer data.

How do I do it?
Delivery is one part of a customer experience equation that spans from browsing your website or strolling your aisles, through to using the product for the first time, and includes everything from accumulation and use of loyalty points through to the ability to return faulty goods.

There are models, such as Deliv, which provide same-day at the same price as standard delivery using crowdsourced delivery personnel which involves a fairly simple integration with the online checkout. There are other models which provide same-day as a premium price service as well as services like Google and eBay which provide same-day on limited SKUs or disintermediate the retailer and customer.

Cost is only a portion of the overall value proposition and the decision for enabling same-day delivery. Other factors such as the service provider, technical requirements, product lines, and geography are also key considerations in making the final decision.

Same-day delivery is a bit like getting a full abs workout in 10 seconds which just might be the ultimate customer experience.

Michael Hart is vice president of logistics at ecommerce delivery service Deliv.