The Uberisation of Customer Service Will Kill Retail if we don't Change
same-day shipping can be achieved; but it comes at the cost of rethinking some of your existing business practices
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
It's a weird thing to get used to. For years, it was accepted that if you want food delivered to your house then you can only buy certain kinds: pizza, Chinese food, or some other form of fast food or takeaway.
Your options were limited. Now, UberEats means you can order anything, anywhere. In a new city? No problem: it's like having all those old, paper menus from the door knob right in your pocket.
I don't think we quite understand how much this has changed customers' expectations — not just of food, but with anything. One in 10 Australians aged over 14+ have used an on-demand food delivery service.
It's only a matter of time before those customers bring those same expectations for quick, trackable delivery to other items.
If consumers can order a cheeseburger through an app and have it delivered to their mouth within 30 minutes, why is it still such a massive headache for retailers to deliver a pair of shoes the same way?
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why. The existing retail and delivery network is a mess; retail chains aren't logistically or financially set up to support that type of cost structure. The list goes on, but ultimately those excuses don't matter. If consumers want it, they'll flock to those who offer it. Which means retailers need to make some tough choices.
A decade ago, we started talking about how online retail would dominate everything — now more than half of all online shopping experiences in the United States begin at Amazon. Now, the next step is happening. If retail wants to stay relevant, it has to offer same-day delivery. And not just same-day delivery. It has to offer same-day delivery with the same type of rapid deployment and tracking that anyone can get in an UberEats' app.
This is really the last true pain point that's holding retailers back. A study conducted in 2018 found only 3 per cent of retailers with both a physical and online presence offering same-day shipping. Just consider these statistics from Roy Morgan:
- Nearly 2 million Australians use delivery services of any three-month period
- The average waiting time is 32 minutes
- 97 per cent of Gen Z shoppers abandon their online shopping cart if they aren't happy with delivery
It's that last one that should have you worried.
The good news is that this isn't as expensive a venture as it once was. True, same-day shipping can be achieved; but it comes at the cost of rethinking some of your existing business practices.
Here's what you need to change:
Turn your Stores into Fulfillment Centres
It isn't enough to just consider how back-end inventory systems can be consolidated and connected. Instead, stores need to turn into fulfillment centres for modern delivery programs.
Shops need to fit differently into your cost structures, going forward. Think beyond normal profit and loss.
Offer more Shipping Options
The conversion rate for online shopping carts drops like a cliff as fewer shipping options are offered. Plug into as many networks and providers as you can.
Make Returns Transparent and Easy
Put this front and centre in your shopping experience — make returns easy. Give customers nothing to lose by buying from you.
Remember, this is an expectations' game that you can't afford to lose. Your customers are judging you against every piece of technology, not just in your industry. This is an attention and convenience game, and the more you can provide them what they want, the more often you'll win.