What a New Survey Tells Us About the Future of Ultrafast Delivery

Delivery options on mobile app

Patience is a virtue, yes, but whoever first said that never shopped online.

According to a recent Roadie/studioID survey of more than 200 retail and supply chain leaders, consumers are overwhelmingly choosing delivery options that will get their online purchases to them as soon as possible, with a minimum of hassle — even if they have to pay a little bit more to make it happen.

As consumer expectations continue to evolve, brands are having to step up their ultrafast delivery options. The survey also found that brands already offering same-day delivery have seen an immediate, positive effect on sales — leading some to use it as a tactic for attracting and retaining customers.

About half of the retail and supply chain leaders surveyed said they either currently offer or intend to offer same-day delivery, as customers have come to expect it. The majority also said they believed customers would pay a premium for this option. Sixty-four percent of respondents believed more than 40% of shoppers would pay extra for same-day delivery, and 30% of respondents believed more than 61% of shoppers would do so. 

Last Mile But Not Least

Ultrafast delivery may sound great, but making it a reality requires companies to confront what’s often the most challenging aspect of the logistics process: last-mile delivery. The “last mile” of an item’s delivery journey — the leg between a transportation hub and its final destination, the end customer — is the most logistically complex part of the journey, making it costly and inefficient.

More than 40% of logistics executives surveyed brought up one or more challenges connected with last-mile delivery, chief among them rising transportation costs and the effect of inflation on the costs of goods and services. Other issues mentioned included staffing challenges (such as not having enough drivers), and the need for real-time tracking technology, optimized route planning, accurate demand assessments, and increased reliability.

[More on innovative delivery: Forget Ice Cream Trucks and Say Hello to Robomarts, Unilever’s Newest Pilot]

Companies that had not yet begun offering last-mile delivery pointed to additional internal concerns, including a lack of buy-in from leadership on a last-mile strategy, as well as difficulty determining which products to offer for e-commerce.

Outsourced Last Mile vs. In-House

In evaluating last-mile solutions, brands were focused on factors like flexibility and scalability, to ensure that they could consistently fulfill their commitment to customers.

To accomplish that goal, four in 10 respondents singled out crowdsourced delivery as the best available option. Slightly over half of the retail and logistics executives surveyed said that partnerships with third parties were preferable to building out last-mile capabilities in-house. 

Reasons why could include the built-in disadvantages of in-house delivery solutions, such as high overhead costs, limited delivery capacity during peak demand times, and geographically limited coverage zones.

The decentralized structure of crowdsourced delivery gives it some inherent advantages over other last-mile options. By using an on-demand network of independent drivers in privately owned vehicles located around the country — including in small towns and rural areas — brands can accommodate same-day and urgent deliveries, with the flexibility to scale up during busy periods.

The underlying process works basically the same no matter the size of the item being delivered, be it a couch or a cupcake.

As consumers increasingly opt for ultrafast delivery of purchases, companies are facing the reality that if they don’t offer this option, a competitor likely will. The good news is that for companies willing to update their internal processes and technology, partnering with a delivery platform can help them retain customer loyalty by being responsive to their needs.

Valerie Metzker, Roadie

About the Author

Valerie Metzker

Valerie Metzker

Metzker is head of partnerships and enterprise sales at Roadie, a crowdsourced delivery platform with more than 200,000 drivers reaching more than 20,000 U.S. zip codes.