As large and as powerful as Amazon is, there is an Achilles heel in its ecommerce fulfillment method – the relative inflexibility of its delivery. It is certainly convenient to receive a package within 24 or 48 hours of purchase, but only if you happen to be at the delivery address when it arrives. If you are not there, you may experience the inconvenience of not getting your purchase when you want it (unless someone else can sign for the delivery in your absence).
It is not Amazon’s fault if you are not present to sign for the package, but this identifies a need that smaller, agile retailers can fill, if they want to. There is more than one way to solve this type of challenge – and the secret is to think through which one works best. There are millions of consumers seeking to shop for, and quickly receive their new purchases, and anything standing in the way of complete and speedy satisfaction opens up the path for innovation by entrepreneurs.
The chief enabler of satisfactory fulfillment is the native mobile app. There is tremendous potential for bringing shoppers, stores, and delivery mechanisms together – on the same point on the planet, at the right time. Some enterprising retailers are already experimenting with crowdsourced services such as Uber and Deliv. There are growing pains still to be worked through, but the notion of a parcel converging with a customer on a street corner, in a coffee shop, or wherever they happen to be at that moment, is not so outrageous.
Emails and text messages get to us wherever we go – there is no need to rush home to reconnect with the world from the desktop PC, so why should home (or office) be the sole point of contact for a mobile commerce solution?
Detractors of crowdsourced, on-the-spot delivery services attest to the superior logistics and routing that the large established couriers such as Federal Express and UPS have developed to a fine science. This is true, but they also have challenges of scale – they simply cannot adjust their routes to chase down a customer on-the-move. The economics just simply do not allow it.
Other detractors point out that the average Uber driver may not possess the skills, the patience, or the credentials to have a client sign for a package, or deal with returns. This is buggy-whip thinking: applying yesterday’s standards to tomorrow’s innovations.
A shopper’s own mobile technology, including geolocation, QR codes, and an app connected to the dispatching store, have the capacity to smooth out the intricacies of the hand-off. The payments, confirmations, and any other retail fulfillment details travel through the ether. All the driver has to do is locate, identify, and confirm the recipient, deliver the goods, and move on.
The details are still being worked out. But, this highly mobile, personal, and agile fulfillment of the purchase process holds great potential for any retailers who wish to beat Amazon at its own game, by delivering an even better and more personal level of convenience, simply as a dividend of being small.
To read my article featured on Retail TouchPoints upon which this post is based, click here>>
If you are interested in learning more on how to beat Amazon at the fulfillment game, download our previously recorded webinar and learn how-to turn brick-and-mortar stores into your biggest asset against Amazon.