Retailers looking to convert modern consumers are discovering that competing on price and customer experience might not be enough. Many retailers are finding that they also need to compete on speed, which is why more and more merchants are considering same-day delivery.
That said, implementing it is far from easy. If you're looking to offer the service in your business, be prepared to deal with the following same-day delivery challenges.
When not handled properly, same-day delivery can prove to be a logistical nightmare. For instance, do you have adequate stores and warehouses spread throughout a delivery area to effectively offer the service? How will you modify your existing procedures to accommodate same-day delivery? More importantly, how will you make sure that your fulfilment centers have the right products in stock?
These are just some of the questions you need to think about, and the "right" answers will vary from one retailer to the next. But here are a few things you should consider doing:
- Implement same-day delivery in areas that your network can easily cover. Look at where your existing stores and warehouses are located, evaluate consumer demand in those places, and see if it makes sense to offer the service.
- Analyse purchase data to help you optimise your inventory for same-day delivery. By looking at which products are most likely to be rush-shipped, you'll be able to stock your fulfilment centers with the right merchandise.
- Enable inventory visibility. Stock levels in your stores and warehouses must be updated in real-time to prevent situations where customers order items that aren't immediately available. Many large players in the retail space who already have real-time inventory visibility are even giving customers the tools to instantly check if an item qualifies for same-day delivery.
Same-day delivery isn't exactly cost-effective and, if the service isn't implemented correctly, it will eat into your profits. That's why it's important to maximise efficiency when processing and delivering merchandise. You can, for example, devise a way to "batch" same-day delivery orders so you're not shipping low volumes of merchandise multiple times a day.
Implementing order minimums could be another effective way to offset costs and make same-day delivery trips "worth it" for your business. And if handling deliveries in-house doesn't make sense for your operations, consider outsourcing the tasks to third parties. Retailers of all types—from electronics to apparel have found success through companies such as Postmates who take on the task of delivering merchandise to customers.
Same-day delivery requires you to establish new procedures, which typically comes with staffing challenges. For one, you have to ensure that you have the workforce to carry out the service. Will you be hiring new people to focus on same-day orders or will you tap into your existing employees? If it's the latter, you'll need to iron out the changes to their roles and day-to-day tasks. For instance, if you're fulfilling orders from your stores, you will need to find a way to pull store staff from the floor to handle order processing, shipping, and deliveries—without compromising regular store operations.
Once you've figured out the "how" of your same-day delivery program, invest ample resources in educating your staff about the service. Document those procedures, run tests, and see to it that the different departments involved can effectively communicate and work with each other.
Overcoming these same-day delivery challenges is a huge undertaking, but it's well worth it if your customers are actively asking for the service. Before getting into same-day delivery, ask yourself—and your customers—if it's something you really need in order to get ahead.
If the answer is yes, it's time to dive into the logistical, financial, and HR challenges that come with offering the service. If not, do a little more digging into what it is that will motivate shoppers to choose your retail business over the competition.