Why More Small Businesses Are Rolling Out Same-Day Delivery Service
Feb 24, 2015
By: Kelly Spors
As online shopping grows, consumers are getting more accustomed to having their purchases arrive promptly at their doorstep — sometimes within hours.
That’s because large e-commerce companies have been rolling out same-day delivery services in several big cities and plan to expand those services nationwide in coming years. Even some product makers like Budweiser are jumping into the same-day delivery business. A report by BI Intelligence, the research unit of Business Insider, forecasts that same-day delivery will see a compound annual rate of 154% between 2013 and 2018.
This trend has forced small merchants to consider how they can compete against such speedy delivery. After all, small businesses’ competitive advantage has always been offering their customers convenience and great customer service.
To stay competitive, some small businesses — both online and offline — have recently started rolling out free and low-cost delivery to their customers.
Many restaurants in big cities, for example, are turning to third-party online ordering and delivery services such as GrubHub, Seamless and Postmates to offer delivery to their customers for a small fee. But other types of small businesses — including retailers — are jumping on the delivery bandwagon, too.
The Spice House, a Chicago spice retailer, works with a local delivery service called WeDeliver to offer mobile-based ordering and local delivery to customers. Customers can order spices via a mobile store created by WeDeliver and get them delivered within hours.
Several other local delivery services have sprung up in recent months to help companies provide low-cost delivery to their customers. Many of these services use a freelance fleet of couriers that are ready to accept assignments.
Dropoff, an Austin, Texas-based delivery company, works with a wide variety of local businesses — from law firms needing to drop off documents to catering companies needing to deliver food. “With bikes, cars, trucks and vans, Dropoff can deliver anything from a letter to catering for 200 people to a 500-pound pallet,” the company said, according to tech news site SiliconHills. “Dropoffs originating in Austin can be delivered as far as Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Online and phone support makes it easy for customers to contact Dropoff with any questions they may have.”
Postmates works with several online startup retailers to offer delivery to their customers.
Unlike old-school couriers, these services often provide modern perks such as online delivery scheduling and price quotes. They can also provide delivery tracking via mobile app, so that businesses know exactly where their deliveries are en route to customers and their expected arrival time. Customers often foot the bill for delivery — which can run anywhere from a few dollars to more than $20, depending on the size — though the business could decide to pay for delivery, too.
Before they offer delivery options, small businesses should think about how it will best add value to the customers’ experience: How much, if anything, will customers be willing to pay for delivery? Will enough customers be interested in delivery to make setting up a delivery service cost-effective?
It’s important to choose a delivery service and to time the mailing supplies carefully, as customers could form their opinions about your business based on the quality of the delivery person.
Though offering same-day delivery to customers is still quite a new phenomenon, small businesses that jump on the opportunity first may have a competitive advantage and be better able to ward off the threat from big online retailers.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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