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Strategic analysis
Shipping is Still Mostly Hit and Miss

Written by on May 30, 2014

One of the key trends in terms of ecommerce is that we are moving towards a world where shipping is same-day, frictionless and free. I wrote about this in both my strategic report about the new trends of grocery shopping online, and in "All Shipping in the Future Will Be Free". But we still have a long way to go, and I experienced this all too well this week.

I ordered six different products online, from six different brands. And the graph below illustrates just how massively different the shipping process was for each delivery.

I ordered a new battery for my car. A new display from Dell. A new blender so that I can make smoothies again (my old one is broken). Some underwear from ASOS. Some hay fever pills from an online pharmacy, and some health items from a health store. All of which had to be delivered to my door.

The green bars are how long it took for them to process the order. The orange bars are how it took to ship, and the blue bar is when it failed to be delivered.

The car battery was by far the best experience. They processed the order first thing the next day, and the shipping company knocked on my door at 7:45 AM the next morning. Just wonderful. It was the same with the health store items.

Dell too was very efficient, but because they have decided to consolidate all their shipping from the Netherlands, the shopping process took one extra day, causing the package to go through two different shipping companies. One shipping company moved the package from the Netherlands to Denmark, while another delivered it to my door.

This illustrates the challenge for big companies, especially considering the new trend of same-day shipping from companies like Amazon and Google. Yes, it's more cost efficient just to have one central EU warehouse, but you put yourself at a competitive disadvantage in terms of shipping.

Then came the pharmacists and the blender. It took two days for them to process the order. Two days? What were they thinking? I'm sorry, in a world where the trend is 'same-day shipping', wasting two days just getting it ready for shipping will put you are serious disadvantage in the future.

And then we have ASOS. Oh boy...

ASOS was the fastest company to process my order and get it ready for shipping, but the way it was shipped was just terrible. It took them several days, and it failed. The package never arrived at my door. Instead, I got an email this morning telling me that the package is now ready for pickup at the post office... in something called 'Pakkeboksen' (package box).

My post office is a 15 minute walk away from my home (and my car is broken down), so it would be quicker for me to just walk to a local fashion store and buy my items there. This completely defeats the point the point of ordering the products online. The whole reason why I did that was so that I didn't have to spend 30 minutes picking it up.

ASOS, I think you are a great company, but you failed! It took five days, and you never delivered.

Actually, there is an even crazier story to this. As you can see in the graph, both the blender, the underwear from ASOS, and the health store items were delivered on the same day, by the same company.

The package from ASOS wasn't delivered (as mentioned), but I now have to pick it up. The package from the health care store was delivered by one postal worker just before noon. And the blender was delivered by another postal worker just after noon.

Three packages, three delivery processes, from the same company.

That is just crazy.

More to the point. Can you imagine how annoyed I feel that the package from ASOS is now sitting in the post office, while I was visited by TWO postal workers today. Why didn't they just bring me all three packages at once?

So, yes. We are currently seeing a very exciting trend about the future of shipping. A trend that will force companies to think of shipping the same way as they think about their physical stores, as in an instant, frictionless, and effortless customer experience.

But, we still have a long way to go. And it's no surprise that it's currently the tech companies who are disrupting this industry.

Shipping is still mostly a hit and miss experience, and as a brand you need to do better. This is where the future battles are going to be fought.

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.

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