What does it mean to future proof your brand? It means making sure your company adapts to the ways consumers want to interact with your brand. The consequences of not future proofing your brand can be dire. You do not need to look any further than FAO Schwarz.
Before becoming a bankruptcy hot potato and changing owners 6 times in the 20 years before it finally went out of business in 2015, FAO Schwarz operated 23 stores in the US and was arguably the most iconic toy seller in the country represented by its flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York City.
In our last Future Proofing Your Brand post, it was discussed why now is the right time to embrace new forms of mobile payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay that leverage the most consistently available accessories in our daily lives – our cherished mobile phones – to facilitate payments that are both more convenient and more secure. Today we will discuss an equally important step in keeping your firm out of the dead pool – adding new forms of shipping methods that will surprise and delight your customers and actually serve as a competitive advantage.
Amazon is the poster child for leveraging shipping as a competitive advantage. When they launched their Amazon Prime service in 2005, it took the ecommerce world by storm by lessening some of the larger hindrances to buying products online – the cost of shipping and the inconvenience of frequently having to wait five or more days to receive an order. In the decade since its inception, Amazon Prime has increased the loyalty and average spending of those Amazon customers that subscribe to it. One study conducted by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIPR) in 2013 shows that the average Prime customer spends $1,340 dollars per year on the retailer’s website -- more than double the $650 that the average non-Prime customer spends.
This should not come as a surprise as product delivery is an integral part of the overall customer experience. It determines how quickly customers can not only start using and enjoying a product, but also how quickly they can begin acting as a brand ambassador for the company that sells the product. Below are some creative ways in which retailers can leverage shipping to inspire loyalty and create a competitive advantage.
- Incorporate Shipping as a Perk into Loyalty Programs and Sales Campaigns – For example, if a retailer has a level in their loyalty program where a customer spends over a certain amount or shops more than a certain number of times, discounted or expedited shipping could be one of the benefits that they earn. Similarly, discounted or expedited shipping could be used as part of sales promotions.
- Utilize Excess Capacity in Non-Retail Delivery – Two ideas jump to mind here. The first is to use newspaper delivery teams for products other than the daily gazette. A newspaper delivery person has to drive by virtually every residence in a town anyway – why not have them deliver a pair of shoes in addition to the newspaper. The second is to leverage crowdsource delivery companies like Deliv. Many drivers have excess capacity and could easily incorporate a few extra stops on their routes throughout the day.
- Driverless Cars – It may be a decade or more before the average citizen is chauffeured around in a driverless car, but this technology may be used for deliveries far sooner than that. Google has had driver-less cars on the road since 2012. In fact, these cars have logged more than 1.3 million driver-less hours since then. Fleets of driverless delivery vehicles can’t be far off.
We’re not suggesting that retailers should start investing in large numbers of miniature drones just yet, but we do believe that shipping and delivery will continue to be a way in which retailers can innovate and, in the process, win new customers and a larger share of spend over the next couple of years.
Check out our next installment of Future Proofing where we discuss cashless/self checkout.
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