Delivery is a pivotal part of the ecommerce value proposition: without fast, accurate delivery, then no manner of online user experience, competitive pricing, expensive apps, or huge stock range is going to save you.
And this week it is clearer than ever how vital delivery is, with Argos pledging to deliver the latest Samsung S10 flagship handset to some lucky customers at 12:01am on the day of the device’s release, 8 March.
Clearly a publicity stunt – the offer is limited to a few lucky recipients out the hat and they have to live in Zones 1 to 5 of the London Transport network – the move does reinforce, however, the power of delivery as a retail weapon.
Driven by the smartphone making shoppers ever-more impatient, the change in shopping habits that now makes it necessary to try this out at 12:01 in the morning (night is you are under 40 and don’t have kids) is also to be saved by mobile.
Better apps and more agile shipping means that shoppers and shipper can adjust and amend delivery options on the fly, create new forms of delivery – such as drones and robots – and track packages better than ever.
Meanwhile, delivery firms rely increasingly on SMS to power push messaging to both their customers and their drivers, again making delivery a flexible and customer-experience winning function of the ecomm matrix. If nothing else, good old SMS – being the lowest common denominator – actually carries a lot of the OTT messaging and app-to-app and app-to-person messaging found increasingly in delivery apps.
On the flip-side, mobile is impacting on restaurants that deliver food, with many seeing more orders coming from mobile, but being ill-equipped to deal with them. According to research out this week, many need to invest in their own app to make the process slick enough to use.
It may sound like no big-deal but it is. Takeaway food delivery is big business and today’s millennial and Gen Z diners are mobile-first… if you don’t offer them the kind of mobile-first experience they expect they will go elsewhere.
I have done it myself: my local Indian, which does lovely food, has no app nor website, so I increasingly find myself ordering from another local takeaway because it does – and you can book the delivery slot.
This is now true not just of the takeaway food market – nor indeed of the Samsung S10 market – it is just the way things are. All consumer-facing merchants are under growing pressure to mobilise, for that is the preferred channel for most of their customers.
However, this process is still relatively costly. Getting a good app or even adaptive website is pricey. There are off-the-shelf web-builders that will help, but for many businesses – takeaways in particular, but it applies to all retailers – they either have a reasonably bespoke website, even if it does run on Magento or Shopify, and they need a bespoke mobile experience too.
Once again, the mores of the shoppers are outstripping the funds of the retailers. They do, however, need to act as only those with the ability to tune into the shoppers will be able to survive. The rest may well meet their Vindaloo Waterloo.