Why Delivery is Your Digital Superpower

by Brian Green

Posted on 09-15-2020

The pan­dem­ic has called atten­tion to a num­ber of essen­tial jobs that many over­looked pre-lock­down. Shop work­ers, teach­ers, and those work­ing in the deliv­ery and logis­tics sec­tor – all of them car­ried out crit­i­cal work before COVID-19 hit, but it’s now that we can tru­ly under­stand and appre­ci­ate their role in keep­ing the world going round.

I’ve nev­er had to queue on the inter­net. But when lock­down start­ed, I was queue­ing online for gro­cery deliv­er­ies along­side every­body else. Deliv­ery dri­vers kept the coun­try fed and made it pos­si­ble to keep away from supermarkets.

The trade-off: Con­ve­nience at the cost of interference

How­ev­er, does this new­found appre­ci­a­tion of this sector’s impor­tance mean we’ll be will­ing to trade increased intru­sion into our per­son­al space for increased con­ve­nience? To solve the peren­ni­al last-mile prob­lem (get­ting the pack­age to the door is the most expen­sive and time-con­sum­ing part of the whole process), logis­tics wants to know more about you. It even wants to come into your house.

A con­fes­sion: I’ve already bought into this. I was giv­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion in Poland last year. I’m on stage, and my Ring door­bell calls my phone to let me know Ama­zon is attempt­ing to deliv­er a par­cel. I opened my car remote­ly, which was parked in front of the house, and the dri­ver left the par­cel in the boot.

That’s why Ama­zon owns Ring. That’s also why Ring works with smart locks and why Ama­zon has an app that links them, so you can remote­ly open your front door for a delivery.

Ring has sparked a debate over pri­va­cy and the lev­el of involve­ment a com­pa­ny the size of Ama­zon should have with what is effec­tive­ly a home secu­ri­ty issue.

But, these issues are unlike­ly to sour our taste for con­ve­nience and speed. We’re going to have to find a bal­ance between mak­ing it eas­i­er for logis­tics com­pa­nies to do their job and main­tain­ing trust between giants such as Ama­zon and customers.

And for the cus­tomer, it’s often a less than per­fect expe­ri­ence. Those costs mean that if you’re out, it’s cheap­er and faster to leave low-val­ue items out­side your house rather than re-deliv­er­ing. It’s worth tak­ing the risk of hav­ing to com­pen­sate you for your £9.99 par­cel if it gets the par­cel out of the system.

Cus­tomer behav­iours, atti­tudes, and expec­ta­tions have changed

There’s a need for a change, and tech­nol­o­gy has the abil­i­ty improve the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. But, does mak­ing it work require a new lev­el of trust or a recal­i­bra­tion of how we see things?

Six months ago, my 81-year old dad did not ‘do’ the inter­net. Today, he’s an online-shop­ping guru. The habits of a life­time have been bro­ken by lock­down restric­tions, and now he’s hap­py to trade infor­ma­tion for the con­ve­nience (and safe­ty) of get­ting things deliv­ered. It’s not much of a step up to imag­ine him allow­ing a deliv­ery com­pa­ny to open the front door.

His expe­ri­ence and a new­found famil­iar­i­ty mean he now trusts the retail­ers. Like all of us, for decades he’s been hand­ing his mon­ey to a bank and his future to a pen­sion provider, indus­tries that have often proven untrust­wor­thy. Regard­less though, we all con­tin­ue to use banks and pen­sion funds. We’re famil­iar with them, even if they’re not always work­ing in our best interests.

That isn’t to say that retail and logis­tics don’t need to earn and keep our trust – they absolute­ly do. And I’m not advo­cat­ing a decade-long ero­sion of pri­va­cy so grad­ual that we’d nev­er real­ly notice it. In fact, con­ver­sa­tions around data and pri­va­cy are like­ly to move faster, not slow­er, as we accel­er­ate towards the next normal.

From ser­vice to prod­uct: The evo­lu­tion of delivery

Deliv­ery is now about more than get­ting a pur­chase to a cus­tomer. Deliv­ery is a pur­chase and it often mat­ters more to the cus­tomer than the price of the item they’re buying.

Pelo­ton, mak­er of celebri­ty-endorsed exer­cise bikes, knows this. It runs its own deliv­ery oper­a­tion and calls its deliv­ery dri­vers Brand Ambas­sadors, because they’re the only face-to-face con­tact many cus­tomers have with the brand.

Instead of send­ing bikes to cus­tomers via a third-par­ty, Pelo­ton uses the deliv­ery process to cre­ate what will hope­ful­ly be a pos­i­tive cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. The Ambas­sadors deliv­er and set­up the bikes, build­ing a rap­port and, cru­cial­ly, trust with the customer.

It’s this sort of think­ing that will put brands like Pelo­ton ahead of its com­pe­ti­tion. Hope­ful­ly, with so many lessons learned dur­ing lock­down, our new­ly-dis­cov­ered respect for peo­ple work­ing in logis­tics won’t dimin­ish in the com­ing months.

Topics: Commerce, Customer Experience, Customer Experience Management, Logistics, retail, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA