Commentary

Opinion: Is there a demand for 30 minute deliveries?

There’s much hype around faster than ever deliveries but is speed really the name of the game, asks NetDespatch co CEO Matt Robertson. 

Everyone talks about everything becoming quicker! Our lives, if you listen to commentators, are speeding up; nobody can relax, everything needs to be rushed. Is that really so? And does that mean that consumers really want 30 minute deliveries?

Whilst I believe it is true that consumers want retailers and their delivery partners to offer them services that fit around their lives, I don’t think that, right now, that means there is a huge demand for 30 minute deliveries.

In Australia, the grocery chain Coles has partnered with Deliveroo enabling shoppers in Melbourne’s inner-east to get basic groceries delivered to their door within 30 minutes of ordering; the hyper local nature of the agreement, which only covers perishable foods, shows the limited scale of 30 minute deliveries at the current time.

Overall, it doesn’t seem that too many companies have fully committed to the idea of offering this new service and that seems sensible, firstly because it is hard to roll out across whole markets and secondly because there isn’t the consumer demand.

Our research – Are you delivering what your customers want? – shows that next day delivery is the most popular delivery option amongst consumers (31%), but standard (25%) and economy (22%) delivery also work well. These results show speed is important, the fastest option – next day delivery – is the most popular. Crucially, however, the fact that a large percentage of customers are satisfied with slower-paced delivery strongly suggests there isn’t a huge consumer demand for 30 minute delivery at this point in time.

As I’ve explained, there are examples of 30 minute deliveries happening in big cities, for perishable items such as food in particular. However, evidence seems to show consumers are not demanding 30 minute delivery. Instead, providing consumers with delivery options that work around their lives, such as evening and Sunday deliveries, may be a better alternative. This will require less infrastructure investment for retailers and logistics firms and crucially will have a greater impact on consumer loyalty to a brand.

Logistically and commercially it makes better sense for retailers and their delivery partners to concentrate on what customers actually want. They want a service that is transparent, personal and for companies to provide tracking services and clear communications. There is a better return on investment, I believe, if retailers focus on improving these aspects of the customer experience rather than providing an innovation such as 30 minute delivery for which there is little demand and limited scope to scale in the same way as other innovations.

I know delivery is an important aspect of ecommerce for customers – and therefore for retailers. It’s because there are so many companies in the marketplace doing delivery well that now there is much less tolerance of anything that doesn’t match the standards of the best services available. Delivery is an emotive issue for customers and research suggests it’s the retailer – not the carrier – who gets the blame for poor deliveries, reinforcing the need for transparency and honesty.

In short, I’d advise retailers and their delivery partners to offer convenience and choice, be upfront about delivery issues, manage customer expectations and certainly increase customer service personnel around peak periods. Last, but by no means least, keep customers updated on the progress of their delivery and offer tracking and visibility options where possible. All this will go much further and positively impact more customers than a 30 minute delivery option.

Matt Robertson is co-CEO of NetDespatch. 

Image credit: NetDespatch and Fotolia

One thought on “Opinion: Is there a demand for 30 minute deliveries?

  1. Tristan Carter said:

    I think you hit the nail on the head by saying that its about convenience and choice and having a suite of options for customers that cover what they want across a range of prices and timescales.

    In big cities and high conurbation areas with low stem mileages and demanding and cash rich customers then some people will want a delivery in 10 minutes and are willing to pay for it (wealthy people having personal shoppers for example is not new, who will just buy things for you and get them gift wrapped and delivered personally if you have the money) – but how big actually is that market if you actually have to pay for it and cover the economic cost of the delivery?

    Common sense dictates that there will be a median level that customers will be happy with; for me then in a city its same day, out of town its next day – and those services will become free over time with full tracking and options for re-delivery on mobile free of charge.

    The first half hour delivery I ever did was 1996 – way before any eCommerce sites were even running I would imagine; I was working in an Electrical store, a guy bought a TV, he forgot a scart lead so phoned me at the store, I put it through the till, put it in a plastic bag, taped it up, walked next door to a taxi firm and got them to deliver it to him and agreed a price with the taxi firm up front, and this was over 20 years ago….. so for small volume, instantly available on-shelf products to be delivered locally to a customer who didn’t mind paying for it then these things have been around for decades. However a lot of people wont want that or wont be distressed purchasers or have to have the goods now, but the option was there and he took it, the vast majority of people didn’t – but it was available and worked if they did, and made a good marketing story.

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