Timed Delivery Slots – The Ultimate Way to Stand Out?

delivery-management-software

SHARE:

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin

Just a few years ago, eCommerce was abuzz with talk of how the future of the industry would be all about same-day deliveries. We’re talking futuristic drones dropping packages from the sky within 30 minutes of a customer placing an order online. Amazon was at the helm of the same-day delivery hype, while retailers of all sizes quaked in their boots, trying to figure out how they could possibly compete.

‘How can you compete with Amazon?’ It’s quite possibly one of the most common questions posed to retailers, both on and offline. History has taught us that short answer was that most retailers didn’t stand a chance. But that’s primarily down to two key factors – 

  1. The question we should actually have been asking wasn’t how brands can compete with Amazon, but instead how they can differentiate themselves; and 
  1. That was then…this is now.

While delivery speed should undeniably still be at the forefront of any retailer’s strategy, customers are increasingly overlooking same-day and even next-day deliveries when given the option of choosing another option at checkout – timed delivery slots. 

‘How can you compete with Amazon?’ It’s quite possibly one of the most common questions posed to retailers, both on and offline. History has taught us that short answer was that most retailers didn’t stand a chance. But that’s primarily down to two key factors – 

 

  1. The question we should actually have been asking wasn’t how brands can compete with Amazon, but instead how they can differentiate themselves; and 

 

  1. That was then…this is now.

 

While delivery speed should undeniably still be at the forefront of any retailer’s strategy, customers are increasingly overlooking same-day and even next-day deliveries when given the option of choosing another option at checkout – timed delivery slots. 

What Are Timed Delivery Slots?

Timed delivery slots are a method of delivery that enable customers to choose a suitable day and time for their packages to be delivered. Not to be confused with estimated delivery dates, where a customer is simply advised of a window of time (day and time) that they can expect their order to arrive. With timed delivery slots, the customer is calling the shots. This kind of delivery option has been popular with retailers with perishable-type products for many years, (namely supermarkets, meal kits, and pick and pack apps) but it’s been fast been gaining momentum across all retail categories.

Amazon has (unsurprisingly) been doing timed delivery slots to customers for some time now, offering UK members and non-members a 4-hour window for scheduling deliveries for large items, which comes with a fee of £10-15. And from early 2022, Royal Mail is planning on launching its own version of timed delivery slots as part of a 3-tier overhaul, where customers will be able to send and receive packages on certain days/times.

What Are The Benefits of Timed Delivery Slots?

For Customers

Besides the obvious fact that choosing a timed delivery slot means knowing exactly when your parcel will arrive, there are many other customer benefits that come into play:

 

1 – Drastically reduced failed deliveries 

 

62% of consumers have experienced a late or failed delivery. And while more carriers are giving customers the option to leave parcels at their door in the event that they aren’t home (particularly with Covid-19 demanding contactless drops wherever possible), delivery disappointment is still commonplace.

2 – Sets accurate expectations 

 

While next-day deliveries and estimated delivery updates have countered the waiting game for shoppers, timed delivery slots take it a step further, helping to set realistic and accurate expectations.

 

3 – Improves brand loyalty

Failed deliveries often lead to customer frustration, which can result in a whole slew of trouble – missed repeat business, negative reviews, you name it. Timed delivery slots instil a sense of confidence and trust – when packages arrive on the date and time that a customer has chosen, it essentially means that the brand has kept its promise.

ecommerce-shipping-software

For Retailers

1 – Reduces overall logistics cost

 

The cost of failed deliveries is no joke, averaging £12 per order. For retailers who offer free delivery, that’s a bitter pill to swallow. Let’s also not forget that when packages are returned, you need to consider the logistics of getting them from B to A and back to B again – packing trucks, storage in warehouses, and boomeranging them back to the customer. With timed deliveries, brands stand to achieve a higher first-attempt delivery rate. 

 

2 – More efficient dispatch

 

Contrary to what you may think, timed delivery slots have the potential to make a logistics manager’s job easier because it helps them to prioritise shipments down to the hour. 

3 – More sustainable

Last mile delivery has always been the thorn in the side of eCommerce as far as emissions go. Scheduled slots require delivery vans to be loaded with precision and coordinated to a tee. Timed delivery slots even have the power to dictate what type of fleet is best suited to deliver packages based on orders, making for greener deliveries.

What Slots Should You Offer to Customers?

Leaving timed delivery slots wide open in terms of choice would be disastrous. This is where the beauty of technology really comes into play. In order for timed delivery slots to really work well, retailers need to understand their customers’ behaviour, as well as carrier capacity, resources available, etc. Rather than putting a finger in the pair when deciding what time slots to offer customers, predictive analytics need to lead the way, here. You’ll need to have powerful delivery reporting in place, and the ability to determine the much finer details, such as what peak delivery times are in terms of traffic in specific areas. 

 

 

You should also be able to manually switch on or off specific timeslots, particularly during surge sales periods, like Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Should It Be a Premium Service?

In short, yes. But that doesn’t have to be a hard and fast rule, either. There’s no denying that free delivery is important to customers. But as far as timed delivery slots go, shoppers can be far more flexible (and patient!) than you’d think – a survey found that grocery customers will wait 10.8 hours longer for their delivery if the scheduled window of time is one hour shorter. So customers are willing to sacrifice speed in favour of precision. Retailers can play around with determining how they can meet customers in the middle – perhaps it’s a premium charge for a narrower time slot or a lower charge for choosing an off-peak time. There’s no one size fits all – again, nailing this part of a timed delivery offering truly comes down to understanding your customers.



As the delivery scales continue to tip, with customer demand weighing less on speed and more on reliability, accuracy, and sustainability, implementing scheduled slots is a solid way for retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition…perhaps even with some of the big guys. 

Want to know how Scurri can make delivery your competitive advantage? Talk to us today.

scurri icon

AUTHOR

Michelle McSweeney Content Marketer

Get industry insights you won’t delete. Delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up here…

Leaving already?

Don’t go without your free guide to Customer Experience during the Pandemic