Same-Day? Right on Time Delivery!

LM125Since the end of 2012 Same-Day Delivery is a returning topic on Logistics, Supply Chain and e-Commerce news sites and blogs. It all started about a year ago when large online and offline retailers launched Same-Day Delivery services.

These retail / e-tail giants used the traditional model when it comes to getting the goods to their end customer, at least at the start. Some used parcel shippers, others launched their own fleet of vehicles with own couriers.

Large e-Tailers have huge distribution centers (big stock, high availability, an advantage) scattered regionally, usually not in the middle of densely populated areas (a disadvantge). Retailers can combine regional distribution centers with their network of brick & mortar stores (smaller stock, a disadvantage) with stores in almost all densely populated areas (an advantage).

e-Tailers are more experienced with delivering goods to consumers, retailers have a geographical advantage. They also have another thing in common: they are offering this service for (next to) nothing. They are not in it to make money on the delivery, but they want to turn you into a returning customer.

There are several start-ups that have used a very different approach to tackle the Same Day Delivery challenge. A few well known examples are Zipments, Deliv, and Shutl. These start ups combine technology with the marketplace to connect consumers, retailers, e-tailers and couriers. For example: deliveries can be announced through an app and then couriers can claim the delivery when they are in the area. In such a system couriers could specialize in these deliveries, or simply use them to fill the empty miles after a drop off, or add shipments to existing shipments in the same area, next to their regular business. Potentially even taxi or limo drivers, or actually anyone with a means of transportation could join in. Start-ups like these are in it to make money from the service that they offer, which is a contributing factor to their innovative approach.

Recently both groups came together, as Shutl was recently bought by eBay to enhance their Same-Day service offering combining traditional service of contractors that drive eBay Now branded vehicles, with the more cost-effective marketplace approach described above. I guess they are learning.

One of the key features of the Shutl service that caught my eye was the 1 hour window, which customers can choose for delivery. Not knowing when an important delivery will be made forces you to be home for an extended period of time, or risk missing the shipment. And you know the courier will drop by at the exact time you ran out for a quick errand.

Key question is: do consumers really want Same Day Delivery? Recent research has shown that consumers find it more important knowing exactly when the shipment will be delivered, than getting it delivered in the fastest way possible. Same Day Delivery is pretty much still a luxury service. I’m sure that it will become more common when last mile delivery gets more efficient and the cost (and price) goes down.

There are parties on the horizon, that are about to take Same Day Delivery to a whole new level. And this may be taken far more literal than you think. You will no longer have to be at home looking out the window, waiting for the courier to deliver your package. No! You can be anywhere and you will probably be looking up…

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