Editor's Comment

Amazon, Argos and HoF up the delivery ante, while carriers can relax

We’re only a week into October and it’s already been a big month for new delivery service offerings. Anyone would think there was a busy period coming along soon. In the US, Amazon has been flexing in Seattle, House of Fraser is sharpening up its next-day offerings, and Doddle wants you to get to know your neighbours.

Argos, however, has upped the ante as far as home delivery is concerned by rolling out its same-day Fast Track service to the whole of the UK. Order by 6pm and your purchases could be with you by 10pm that same evening. Keep your eyes peeled for your copy of eDelivery Magazine (EDM03) which has a full interview with Andy Brown, Argos Stores’ central operations director, on the roll-out of Fast Track across the UK. He is also speaking at EDC15 next week.

This month has also seen the new Consumer Rights Act come into force. Some of the bigger ticket items the new law ushers in could be regarded as much as tidying up pre-existing consumer protection laws as they are about breaking new ground.

Indeed, when I interviewed former MP Jo Swinson – who was one of the authors of the new act during her time as Under Secretary of State in the last government – she made that precise point. “The Act is all about making things clearer,” she told me. “Prior to the Act you could return something within a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. But that’s just too woolly – we wanted to provide certainty.”

But the new act has introduced one new element worth taking note of, and that is that retailers are now responsible for purchased items right up to the point where they reach the shopper. Looked at from a different angle that sentence might say carriers are not responsible for mishaps in transit.

Whether it’s delays or damage, the retailer bears the burden of responsibility for the goods until the customer has taken possession.

What this does, in my opinion, is underline something that we’ve all known and acknowledged for a while – retailers have a very real stake in delivery being done well. Retailers with less-than-great delivery partners soon become known as an unreliable place to order from. Now, though, they’ll find themselves liable, whether they’re reliable or not. We’ll be writing more about that issue anon.

Next week the eDelivery team will be at our first ever conference – EDC15. Those of you lucky enough to have won a free pass will be hearing from me about that shortly. In the meantime, why not take a look at our interview with Paula Gould from Vertu, the luxury phone manufacturer. She’ll be speaking at EDC15 about engaging your workforce in the links between business needs and supply chain operations.

Elsewhere on eDelivery this week, we have a case study on high street footwear brand Schuh, who are regularly cited as a runaway success when it comes to slick online shopping and delivery practices.

Last week we had an opinion article looking at the role of the Uber-model as a force for innovation in delivery. One person who isn’t blown away by such suggestions is Patrick Gallagher of CitySprint. Does he have a point when he says that the sharing economy’s reliance on well-meaning amateurs is its biggest weakness?

If you are coming to EDC15 next week try and say hello. I’m hoping to personally meet and chat to as many eDelivery readers as I can, time – as always – being the deciding factor. But I’d love to hear from you and get some feedback after the event. You can find an overview of some of the speakers and themes you can look forward to here.

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Main image: Olympic sprinter Iwan Thomas launches the Argos Fast Track delivery service, at North Weald Airport in Essex.
PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo: David Parry/PA Wire