Same day delivery is a hot topic at the moment.
If you are thinking about offering a same delivery service the following 7 points will give you some ideas and for food for thought about setting it up in your own business:
Identify same day delivery areas
The ability to fulfil online orders and deliver same day is a challenge that requires stock to be held close to a sufficient number of your customers that actually want the service in order to be both operationally achievable and economically viable.
Retailers that have store branches have an advantage as they already have stock located near to where their customers live. Using these stores as fulfilment points for same day orders is a logical approach. For online only shippers, a same day delivery service will likely necessitate having additional fulfilment point(s) located near to the customer population, as well as duplication of stock holding and the additional management costs that brings.
Communicating the same delivery offer to your online customers is key, including in which geographic areas the service will be offered and even which products qualify for the service. This could be done through a clearly worded delivery policy, a stock check facility on the product page or by the use of dynamic delivery options to provide the relevant information on the Product Page or during Checkout.
Stock availability to online channels
At the heart of the same day delivery offer is whether there is any product available to be delivered in this way. To achieve this, the business must be able to :
- agree a single definition to ‘available stock’ for your stores and online business – especially when stock is ‘available’ at store for same day delivery and also in store for customers to purchase, and
- provide (as near to) real time visibility of available stock to the online order channel, from all possible fulfilment points (e.g. each store and warehouse) , and
- present the same day delivery offer to the online customer as they browse – the offer’s validity may depend on product availability and the customer’s desired delivery location.
A WMS or retail system that can maintain real time stock visibility across every store is crucial to success of running a same day delivery operation. Otherwise, the customer services issues and loss of customer trust that result in erroneous orders due to poor stock availability will be more costly than any potential profits.
Confirming the delivery window at checkout
The main reason a customer will be choosing same day is either that they want the item now because they can, or at least they want the item today, because the need it urgently (i.e. gift or required to do a job or task). Setting expectations as to when the customer could receive the item is must occur during or soon after checkout, providing expectation of the earliest time and by when the customer expect to have received delivery.
Reserving and picking stock in store for same day delivery
When the order is placed and confirmed to be fulfilled from store, the stock must be reserved to prevent it from being sold to another customer …. who maybe at this moment reaching for that item on the shelf. This should be done in the system that is used to manage the retail stock, ASAP.
Next, the items must be picked. The approach to picking will be determined by the individual store size and layout , the location of the products (whether on the shelf or out the back), staff levels and the volume of orders. For example, a smaller store, may pick by order; a larger store may pick by product line.
Order packing and packaging
This will depend on the type of product, order size, your business and the type of courier being used for same day delivery. The product may require packaging to protect the item or to communicate branding.
In store, there will need to be sufficient space for marshalling items, packaging storage, packing each order, storing the parcels ahead of collection by the carrier or courier, as well as technology to update the status of the order.
Alternatively, keep it simple. With my recent experience with Shutl and Argos, their same day delivery service was essentially an extension of their in store experience – but with the benefit of having a local courier go fetching it for me instead. So, no packaging, no delivery label on the box at all. Just the regular Argos experience we all expect.
With shipping and delivery, there are three main stages to consider. Firstly, the process for requesting a carrier or courier to visit to the store to collect the parcels when they are ready to be shipped to the customers. Where will the courier collect them from? How will the parcels get out the door to the courier vehicle and so on.
Secondly, once the parcels have been despatched, the customer must be advised that the parcel is on it’s way, with an expected delivery time. This will both reassure the customer and prevent any potential customer service inquiries.
And thirdly, ensure that the courier confirms that the parcels has been successfully delivered to the customer … or not. This information will help with overall performance management of the same day service as well as updating your customer service systems.
Order tracking and customer service
It is critical to be able to view the status of the order throughout the same day delivery journey, both for the purposes of order management from a business perspective but also in order to respond to customer service issues and inquiries.
Keeping the customer informed throughout the journey is good practice and great for brand engagement.
Where there is a hiccup in the process, for example: insufficient stock to fulfil the order, unexpected delays in fulfilment or no carrier is available to be fulfilled for any reason, then these issues must be identified early and customer informed of the new expectation for delivery.
Before embarking on setting up a same day delivery offer, make sure that all business teams departments have a ‘walkthrough’ of the end-to-end process together and identify all possible steps and hiccups, including who and how stock or customer service issues will be dealt with. Store staff may have different views as to to how the online business can achieve a same day delivery service.
And finally, make sure that the processes are such that they can be controlled and/or scaled so that if sales volumes ‘spike’ (e.g. through promotion or season) then the same day service can continue to be supported, without adverse customer experiences.