|Mon Oct 15 2012 22:21:42|
Getting Ecommerce Packages Safely to Point B
By: Ina Steiner
Shipping is one of the biggest challenges online sellers deal with every day, and retailers have begun zeroing in on the delivery component of order fulfillment. Missing or damaged packages are the bane of a seller's existence, and that's why merchants are testing alternatives to dropping off packages at shoppers' front doors.
Amazon is building lockers at convenience stores where shoppers can pick up their items, and ShopRunner is testing in-store delivery for online merchants.
Former PayPal and Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson, now at ShopRunner, told me the company is close to announcing the expansion of its test of ShopRunner Pickup Points being conducted in Philadelphia. A shopper can buy something on the Toys R Us website and pick it up at their local Walgreens, for example. The shopper hands a receipt with a bar code to the clerk at Walgreens, who goes into a secure area and retrieves the package.
Scott said testing showed 61% of shoppers going in to pick up their online purchases bought something while in the store - a huge selling point for retailers participating in the pick-up program.
He referred to the "delivery challenged consumer" such as his nephew who works long hours in an office building in New York City that no longer accepts personal deliveries. Another example he cited - a retail chain that has a policy of not sending packages to Seattle because the rain would damage packages left on shoppers' doorsteps. ShopRunner is betting that those types of consumers will be happy to go to their neighborhood drugstore or other retailer to pick up their online purchases.
EcommereBytes has noted the increase in pick-up services (Amazon, Kinek, UPS). ShopRunner, which is retail chains' answer to Amazon Prime, is nicely positioned to coordinate an in-store delivery system, and it acquired Boston-based PickupZone in April.
But could there be another alternative to these delivery options? What about doorstep lockers?
There's a whole host of items being delivered to people's doorstep besides mail and newspapers. Express Scripts delivers prescriptions. Zoot's built a business delivering dry-cleaning right to the front door. Edible Arrangements delivers fruit bouquets. Netflix delivers rental movies.
In the old days, people had meat and dairy items delivered to the home. But with many couples now working outside the home, it went out of fashion. But it's coming back in style - at least if Jeff Bezos has his way - Amazon has been testing grocery delivery for some time, not to mention supermarkets such as Stop & Shop's Peapod service.
The question is, who's there to take delivery of all these items?
Could doorstep or porch lockers soon become a regular fixture at people's homes? How about climate-controlled sections for groceries, a rack for hanging dry-cleaning, and a locked drawer for prescriptions? Could designers mesh aesthetics with convenience and come up with a high-tech secure solution for today's "delivery challenged consumers"?
Whatever kind of lockers or in-store delivery systems become mainstream, let's hope they include ways to reduce claims of non-delivery or damaged packages! Let's hear your ideas for worry-free package delivery.