Amazon recently stated its intention to make 1 day delivery the default for Prime members – moving the goal posts for retail brands already straining to match Prime’s long-held two-day standard. With the crucial holiday season already on the horizon, sellers should double down on omnichannel initiatives in order to meet consumer expectations for fast, free fulfillment.
In truth, Amazon’s announcement is old news for the more than 70% of U.S. residents who can already receive Amazon shipments within a day. Competing mass merchants like Target and Walmart responded to the Amazon headline by pointing to competing services already in play or at least in development.
Pressure For 1 Day Delivery
Still, the announcement means smaller merchants are likely to feel even more pressure to shorten their fulfillment timeframes. On the surface “free” still trumps “fast” 1 day delivery. More than half of shoppers say free shipping is of primary importance; compared with 10% or fewer who rank speed in first place, according to measurement firm comScore. But at the same time, 40% of consumers say they’d be less likely to purchase if delivery took more than two days, according to Kibo’s Consumer Trends survey.
Adding urgency is the looming holiday season, when claims of convenience and speed are due to escalate. Time savings comprise three of the top five reasons shoppers buy gifts online, Deloitte found, and merchants catering to harried last-minute shoppers need proven solutions. Among the options:
1) Perfecting in-store fulfillment operations
A network of physical stores can be an advantage for retailers, if they’re able to nimbly optimize inventory for Buy Online, Pickup In-Store (BOPIS). Two-thirds of shoppers have used BOPIS, Kibo found, with pickup flexibility and time savings ranking high on the list of benefits. Similarly, retailers who can ship local inventory to nearby homes can shorten delivery timelines; this makes integration of in-store, order-management and eCommerce systems a high priority.
2) Offer white-glove service to differentiate
Fulfillment options now come with stepped-up service combined with 1 day delivery; from stylist consultations for items reserved in stores to in-home installation. This gives merchants the opportunity to showcase in-house expertise and stellar customer care and deliver value beyond mere speed.
3) Join the (shipping) club
Thanks to Prime, consumers are used to paying for shipping perks. More than 70% of Millennials and Generation Z say they’re willing to join paid loyalty clubs, according to a survey from CrowdTwist. Merchants should consider adding premium free-shipping tiers to loyalty offerings; in addition, they can reward members of free loyalty clubs with complimentary shipping upgrades, VIP express lanes for BOPIS order pickup, and free gift wrap services.