Convenience is a word that we’ve come across time and again while looking at the promises that retailers make to their customers around delivery, collection and returns. It’s come up in our case study examples of services designed by retailers including John Lewis , Tesco and Asos . It came up in our piece featuring Karen Gibson of Asda’s toyou service, who explained that when a service is easy and straightforward, it’s so much more likely to bring the customer back another time. It also appears throughout our research features. Indeed, the strategic overview that opens this report argues that convenience is now the main driver of logistics strategies. That’s not surprising when the experience of operations and delivery is a part of the customer experience, as we argue in our introduction.
Of course, a service can only be convenient if it works and for that to happen, many smaller processes have to function seamlessly. In an industry where much of the process is outsourced, we see examples of operations and logistics done very well, but also examples of retailers who are still very much on their way towards achieving that ambition. What we’ve found from our 2017 research into this area is that things are improving. More than half of the Top500 now enable shoppers to collect purchases from a store and get them delivered via next-day delivery. We’ve mapped metrics that show some forms of delivery, such as same-day and named-day, are still much less widely offered. But these are approaches that are still very much at the cutting-edge and when we return to this area in a year’s time, we expect we’ll see more people offering services that move towards such levels of convenience. But these services necessarily come at a cost, whether it’s one that’s overtly charged for, as both Tesco and Amazon do, or whether it’s one that’s added to the cost of the item. Good delivery, collection and returns services aren’t cheap – but they are important. After all, as we said earlier, they have to work properly if retailers are to offer customers the convenient service that they now demand.