Will delivery become e-commerce’s “added value”?

It’s a question worth considering, since the growth of e-commerce has been responsible for the notable growth in consumer purchasing as a whole today. It’s also worth asking why we have seen this level of growth, especially as consumer studies have shown the importance of human contact and interaction when making purchases. The efforts that online retailers have been making (in terms of improving logistics) in the wake of the success of Amazon as a platform constitute attempts to respond to changing consumer expectations. In short, customers online want more, and they want it now.

 

An increasingly demanding consumer

For instance, shoppers are much more aware of the packaging in which their products are contained: not only because of their environmental concerns around wasting raw materials, but also because they want to maximise efficiency and minimise their carbon footprint. So, having a pizza delivered by a cyclist to their address, or their shop at Monoprix brought to them by a courier on foot are certainly “greener” options (other social concerns notwithstanding). Studies have shown us that, for 79% of shoppers, a ‘smart’ packaging equipped with trackers would be welcome. It’s certainly easy to see why giving shoppers the ability to follow their package’s progress in real time via their smartphone would be a major asset for an online business.

 

So, can we put a cost on this added value that businesses are offering their customers? And, what impact will this have as time goes on?

If we are to believe certain retail specialists, anxiety is growing around the ever-increasing influence of delivery giants such as Amazon and Alibaba (as well as Ventes Privées and CDiscount, in France and Europe). There’s little doubt that this is why 43% of Internet retailers are investing in automating their online ordering processes.

The main advantage that retailers have is their customers’ trust.

“Delivery must be a service that people choose, not a process that they have to suffer through”, suggested Marc Lolivier, Director General of FEVAD (Federation of E-Commerce and Distance Selling).

This can be seen in the example of Monoprix, whose online shop has taken pride of place on Amazon Prime, which shows that delivery can be another opportunity for retailers – so long as their clients see the added value in it. Everything has changed since we started to take an interest in what buyers expect from retailers, and particularly from those online: the retailer’s range of products and their availability are important to them, of course, but the quality of service (and therefore, the option to have their products delivered) is paramount. Monoprix has the faith of its clients for the quality of its products, whilst Amazon has the trust of Internet users in everything to do with express deliveries.

 

Delivery: what about proximity?

The other significant change in consumer buying habits is the notion of how close their desired products are to them. In effect, local retailers are clawing back power from remote retailers. According to the Uberall report ‘Near Me Shopping’, 82% of mobile Internet users look for products that are near to their current geographic location. From there, they can either choose to visit the nearby stockist themselves, or they can order the product online and meet the courier waiting at their doorstep as they return home (or so the recent Uber Eats advert would suggest, at least). The value generated for the consumer comes from being able to choose between picking up their purchase themselves, and having the product delivered to them quickly. Likewise, this can be an asset for a e-commerce (or a handicap, should the service fail to deliver on expectations).

 

As time passes, consumers will always be more and more demanding. That being said, innovations in product delivery are certainly an effective way to respond to their expectations of immediacy and flexibility in the retailers who manage and deliver their increasingly impulsive purchases.

To read also: Should e-commerce deliveries be taxed?