Why Amazon-proofing your retail delivery offering should be a priority in 2017

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Author: James Taylor, Managing Director at ANC, Australia’s market leader in dedicated fleet home and corporate delivery services

Last month Amazon officially announced that it will be setting up distribution centres in Australia, which means that the online behemoth will be drastically expanding its offering to Australian consumers.

Many retailers have been expecting Amazon’s arrival with trepidation and some planning to how they will future-proof their business. Coles and Woolworths have supposedly set up project teams to defend themselves – but many retail businesses have yet to consider their strategy and actions.

The arrival of Amazon is imminent, some could say the threat is real. While some businesses leverage Amazon’s reach and distribution channels by selling through the Amazon platform, others have reservations due to the reported negative experiences from many American businesses.

If a business decides it wants to stand alone from Amazon, the likelihood is they won’t be able to compete with the product offering since this is Amazon’s forte. A key differentiation is to look at delivering exceptional customer service, something Amazon is still striving to achieve.. Businesses need to review supply chain management and logistics operations; develop a new operations and delivery strategy in line with any new customer service offerings, and source and engage the appropriate suppliers. Businesses will need to make sure their customers have tried and trust the brand offering well before Amazon arrives in 2018.

Retail channel diversification and delivery support services

Today, Australians expect the opportunity to select delivery services from online stores and from bricks and mortar stores as well. For instance, ANC works with retailers such as IKEA, Bunnings, Bing Lee, and Fantastic Furniture where the many customers opt for delivery from the bricks and mortar store. Bulky items such as white goods and home furnishings often can’t be transported in the customers’ cars, and they don’t have the manpower or expertise to safely move bulky items from store to vehicle to home, therefore rely on the retailer delivery services. This requires specialised dedicated fleet delivery management compared to small products that can easily be couriered by regular suppliers and postal services.

If you don’t already have the option to deliver, you should immediately confirm this essential customer service. If you do have the facilities and unsure it they are optimised, you should review your distribution and warehouse logistics and consider approaching dedicated fleet delivery companies to review your service model. Genuine transport experts with longevity, innovation and flexibility can offer solutions to optimise your offer and implement effective and efficiency changes.

In dedicated fleet delivery services management – in particular bulky deliveries that require driver and customer engagement – you should consider the following…

  • Strategic delivery choice options for customers

Offer only two or three delivery options. Customers we’ve worked with tend to get overwhelmed by too many options but still want to select what suits them, and there are generally enough. Delivery windows also need to be considered as customers does not want to wait all day for the delivery team.

  • Don’t shy away from selecting multiple delivery suppliers or take a panel-based approach

Different dedicated fleet delivery suppliers may be required based on the region you need to  cover. Some organisations are truly national, some specialise in metro regions while others are state centric, so be sure to get the best coverage and value and this may mean you require more than one supplier. Be aware that you won’t be able to compare them on price due to the different geographical challenges, such as distances and population. However, you can be specific in your expectations for customer service that meets your brand promise.

  • True cost of ownership

Ask any potential dedicated fleet delivery supplier what is their percentage of damage per consignment. This will give you a good indication of secondary or hidden costs you would potentially incur, including customer service teams managing complaints, redeliveries, replacement of stock and customer goodwill.

Also ask about the risks and/or injuries drivers sustain in delivery. Of course, accidents happen, but the type of injury will indicate the level and quality of training drivers have received, and ongoing training, in WH&S and compliance. This may impact on your delivery rates, but most importantly mitigate your risk and the impact on the always critical chain of responsibility.

In consideration of the chain of responsibility (COR), you need to understand the whole supply chain; investigate loading dock and warehouse management processes, manual handling, load density and distribution and load restraints. COR responsibility does not end with the driver leaving the warehouse. A professional supplier will understand the risks in the supply chain and work with you to minimise those risks and improve the customer experience.

  • Efficiency isn’t about speed of delivery

The customer interaction is more important than speed. If a driver has 20 bulky deliveries that they rush to make, there will be more chance of missing delivery windows, damaged goods and the greatest risk – upsetting customers. Over-booking the driver might also cause some deliveries to be missed and roll over to the next available window, which may not be the next day, causing further disappointment, incurring additional unforeseen costs to the business. Rushed drivers can make mistakes, increase accidents, cause themselves injuries or breakages and arrive with missing or partial deliveries. Any recovery to a missed delivery is costly – they cost the driver, fleet delivery company, the business and most importantly, they damage the retailer’s reputation and trust.

In delivery services, it’s best to be realistic about what you can achieve to secure your chain of responsibility, avoid issues and ensure customer satisfaction. Continuously refine your offer by monitoring DIFOT (delivered in full and on time) as part of a broader measurement plan.

  • Value of customer service

Customer service is paramount as drivers are an extension of your customer service offering. They represent your brand and leave a lasting impression. This is more paramount for retailers delivering bulky goods where drivers are invited into the customer’s home or work premises. Last year ANC introduced NPS (Net Promoter Score) tracking, which we have been refining and are now at the point where we can offer statistics and benchmarks to our clients. We ask ‘Would you recommend the service?’ so it’s quick and simple for the customer.

 

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About ANC

ANC is a privately-owned company specialising in dedicated fleet home delivery and dedicated fleet corporate delivery services in metropolitan centres around Australia.

ANC traces its history back to 1921, and today employs over 800 staff and contractor drivers across the country, with an annual turnover of $69million; making it one of the country’s largest Australian-owned delivery fleet services.

Today, ANC provides critical dedicated multiple-person delivery teams for client’s last mile delivery to their customers’ homes, business or work site. Clients include major Australian and international brands such as IKEA, Bunnings Warehouse, Telstra, Fuji Xerox, Fantastic Furniture, Laminex, Cement Australia and Bunzl, to name a few.

 

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