The reckoning of the coronavirus pandemic is still playing out in many respects. Consumers, who used to spend money on restaurants and travel, are putting their dollars toward home improvement and other discretionary items. Retailers have been caught off guard and are battling to keep up, creating massive surges in shipping networks as they struggle to restock and scale their last-mile home delivery services

Shipping volume to homes has been off the charts, especially in essential industries like grocery, pharmacy and home improvement. Roadie’s on-demand delivery platform has seen increased demand across a number of categories: 

  • 4,840% increase in home furnishings
  • 1,176% increase in home improvement supplies
  • 188% increase in electronics
  • 180% increase in food and perishables

increased last mile delivery demand

Same-day and last-mile delivery – which used to be convenience options – are now essential services. And it happened almost overnight. When customers can’t get to the store, you have to figure out how to bring the store to customers.

The retailers who had already diversified last-mile offerings like curbside pickup and BODFS worked quickly to add delivery capacity – leaving other retailers to ask how quickly they could ramp up. Companies that had already invested in the infrastructure necessary to enable alternative fulfillment methods like BOPIS easily layered on delivery. In the first five weeks of the pandemic, Roadie added more than 3,000 stores to our platform that began operating as mini distribution centers while customers sheltered in place.

Consumers have learned a lot about navigating their new normal and are continuing to make adjustments in a pandemic that’s likely to be here for a while. But even as masked shoppers return to brick-and-mortar stores, retail foot traffic is still way down. Consumers are still being cautious. Even the most optimistic merchants are holding out for a slow return to pre-COVID conditions. The truth is, we don’t think there will be a “post-COVID” world. There’s pre-COVID and there’s the world we’re making deliveries in now. 

Plus, as more and more consumers experiment with construction supply delivery services and home delivery for items like groceries and home goods, we’re finding that they’re adjusting to it fast. And if you think about it, it’s not that new of an idea: we used to have visits from the milkman, the ice man, the egg man… all this stuff used to show up on our doorsteps. So in a way, home grocery and supply delivery is a return to our roots as much as it is something new and modern.

Customer preferences and expectations are shifting, too. Once you know how easy it is to get something delivered to your doorstep in a few hours, why risk the store? Or even longer-reaching, why burn the daylight it’ll take for you to drive over, pick something up and come home when you could be spending time with your family?

We’ll probably be feeling the ripple effects of COVID-era shopping behavior for years to come. Consumer behavior may never be the same, and retailers have to adjust for that to thrive in this new dynamic. The last mile is the hardest part of an item’s journey to consumers and retailers might as well start solving that problem now.

Roadie is committed to helping retailers solve the challenges of the last mile. Leading brands like Walmart, Tractor Supply, Advance Auto Parts and The Home Depot partner with us too, as we are the nation’s largest local same-day delivery network, to deliver to homes in 13,000 cities and towns across the U.S. Getting started is easy. We can launch new customers in as few as two weeks and enable them to tap into our crowdsourced community of 150,000+ drivers. 

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