by Nissa Hanna
Right now is an empowering moment for shoppers. Retail’s at a turning point, one where online and offline purchase paths fluidly intertwine; access and choice are inherent to the best offerings; and consumers have unprecedented sovereignty. But that streamlined scenario still has a big hurdle: the procurement experience. Customers’ options are lean — pick up the purchase in-store or have it shipped to their home.
But a few services are starting to push the delivery envelope, giving customers an option that doesn’t require a trip to the store or an agitated wait. Most notably, early this month eBay announced the San Francisco-based test of its eBay Now iOS app. Invited users can select items from big-name retailers like Macy’s, Best Buy and Target and receive them in about an hour, for a $5 fee (TechCrunch.com, 5 August 2012). And according to Slate, Amazon is priming for standard next-day delivery and an affordable same-day option (11 July 2012). This is good news for fashion, beauty or tech shoppers who are in a state of excited suspense until the delivery truck rolls up, but it also presents a potentially game-changing shift in how household goods and staples are acquired.
Though Americans may be slow to override the inertia-fueled habit of driving to the store, having goods delivered to their door by an established and trusted source could turn them to more convenient ways to stock their shelves. But as a replenishment-centered category, household goods have a unique ebb and flow and involve management and planning. Marketers, take note: Delivery speed is an element in a longer shopping equation that consumers will evaluate in totality. The sale doesn’t end when the credit card gets approved, and speed doesn’t mean a thing unless it’s accompanied by error-free deliveries, choice and flexibility.