The consumer parcel delivery methods and practices have changed very little over the years while the retail market and consumer demands have changed dramatically. I believe this is because the carriers providing this service have been sheltered from the consumer and their demands on delivery by the retailer because the retailer has been adjusting to the brunt of the consumer changes as they were related to shopping and purchasing. It is time now though for these consumer demands to extend down the supply chain to the parcel delivery part of the equation to support the changing consumer lifestyles. Parcel carriers will do well to learn from the retailers mistakes in trying to fight the tidal wave of consumer change and take the steps to collaborate and incorporate flexibility to support the changing demands.
These last mile bulk deliveries and parcel carriers are service providers and as we’ve seen with retail in general where the consumer has now taken control of their shopping and purchasing practices I see a similar type of activity occurring in the delivery services. This includes Saturday and Sunday deliveries without service fees and also customized delivery times and locations. The delivery services will say that they provide flexible services based on the consumer requirements and on paper this is true, however the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I have tried to modify the delivery time for instance with one parcel carrier and that failed miserably ending with me going to the carrier hub to pick up my package on a Saturday.
Consumers have been rebuilding their retail shopping and purchasing practices using the Internet and third party tools. The delivery services are the next frontier for consumers to change and these carriers may be in for a rough ride when they realize that they are really not in control and must change to meet consumer demands. Carriers must collaborate with consumers to coordinate deliveries better. They are providing notices now of delivery status and a first step in the collaboration would be to reach out to the consumer to confirm the delivery timeframe and location prior to loading the truck.
I remember a time when I was young when retail stores were not open on Sunday and closed by six PM on Saturday. I say this as an introduction here because this was a long time ago and there are many consumers now that never experienced these limitations. At that time the parcel delivery service carriers provided deliveries five days a week, except of course for the USPS, and there were no evening deliveries. If we fast forward to today, the parcel delivery service carriers provide deliveries 5 days a week (Saturday for an extra fee), except of course for the USPS, and now consumers can go to a carrier outlet store to pick up their deliveries in the evening if the parcel can’t be delivered in the day. Contrast this to the speed and amount of change impacting the retailers and you can see that there is a pent up demand from consumers that is going to wash into the parcel delivery service shortly. In fact, I am surprised it hasn’t already happened!
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors. How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience? Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes. In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas. How can you support these continuously changing requirements?