The UK’s retailing landscape as we once knew it has forever changed. The economic downturn, which started over five years ago, coupled with the exponential growth in ecommerce, has landed us all in a fiercely competitive environment.
Retailers can offer their customers the very best range of products at the most competitive prices. But if the delivery service fails to make the grade, all the good work is undone and a black mark is left against the retailer’s name. First impressions count, but so do last impressions.
This is where many retailers have fallen down in recent years in their quest to survive the turbulent economy. Times are tough so it is tempting, where possible, for businesses to cut corners and to cut costs. But in this modern-day mindset customers have come to expect their goods almost immediately upon ordering them and to arrive in pristine condition.
And as the sale of an item is effectively a contract between retailers and customers the onus is on the retail business itself, as much as the transport company to ensure this happens.
One area in particular which causes a real headache to both the transport industry and the retail industry is the distribution of white goods. In the main these tend to be low-value, high-volume products which don’t create the opportunity for businesses to cover the cost of delivery. It is a market where margins are renowned to be tight for both retailers and the carrier so rather than offering a premium two-man delivery service the favoured option is one man.
This is of course a complete nonsense. How on earth for example can one man carry a washing machine or fridge up three flights of stairs to a top floor flat if there is no lift? The consequences of such measures are, of course, predictable.
The level of damages caused to white goods during the delivery process is high costing the industry thousands of pounds – a burden which it can ill afford.
Some damages are immediately visible, while others may not become apparent until the new owner attempts to use the device and finds fault. Either way the result is a disgruntled customer who is left without the use of what is usually a crisis purchase; a retailer incurring the cost of the damaged goods and a slurred reputation, and a transport company equally earning a damaged reputation.
What is clearly evident is that cuttings delivery costs is a false economy a fact which retailers need to consider when choosing their delivery partner.
It is often said that events in life come full circle and this is increasingly becoming the case in terms of the two-man delivery market within a number of sectors.
Over the next year or two I believe there is huge potential for growth in terms of the two-man delivery of white goods. Retailers have learned the hard way and are now realising that replacing two-man delivery with a man and a trolley is far from being a cost-cutting solution and in the long run can lead to long-term damage to the business and reputation.