The retail landscape is always changing. This is true now more than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic forced both consumers and retailers to reevaluate the role of online shopping in day-to-day life. With fewer in-person interactions, consumers — even those hesitant to adopt online shopping habits — began to look for new buying options. Retailers, in turn, continue to rethink the consumer experience. They want to give customers more choice in buying across e-commerce and brick-and-mortar channels. 

While much of life has begun to return to normal, these new online shopping habits are here to stay. A study of more than 1,000 consumers by ChannelAdvisor Corporation reveals that 52% of consumers expect to shop more online post-pandemic than they did before. Yet interest in buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup is climbing, too, a survey by PowerReviews shows. Regardless of how they get their products, customers want them faster. Nearly half of respondents to a McKinsey survey abandoned an online shopping cart because shipping times weren’t provided or were too long.

Even before the COVID pandemic hit, retailers over the last five to 10 years have increasingly been challenged to keep up in a fast-changing and highly competitive e-commerce market. Amazon changed the game forever with two-day shipping, and other major retail players continue to roll out new features to further convenience consumers.  

Flexible delivery options will be the difference in remaining competitive. Customers want to get their orders faster and where and when they want them (whether that’s same-day or on a specific day of the week). And they’re often shopping as much for a product as for a retailer whose fulfillment options meet their needs.

Meeting e-commerce demands through more choice  

Retailers that set themselves up for success with flexible and ultrafast delivery will be better situated to win over new customers and keep loyal ones coming back. Same-day delivery is a particular focus point. More than three-quarters of specialty retailers are prioritizing two-day delivery, McKinsey found. Meanwhile, four in 10 were aiming to offer same-day delivery by 2022. 

A recent study conducted by Roadie and studioID of more than 200 retail and supply chain leaders indicates the growing traction around same-day delivery. Half of the logistics executives surveyed say offering same-day delivery is extremely important because customers expect and demand it. On top of that, same-day delivery improves the overall customer experience, with 50% of respondents emphasizing its potential to improve customer retention. A similar share (49%) cited its helpfulness in attracting new customers.

A major concern around same-day delivery historically has been about cost. But the survey found that not only do customers expect same-day delivery, they also are willing to pay for it. Almost two-thirds of the logistics executives (64%) surveyed believe that more than 40% of shoppers would be willing to pay more for products with a same-day delivery option. Research from McKinsey & Company further supports this narrative, with 53% of U.S. shoppers saying they are willing to pay extra for same-day delivery. 

Meeting the consumer demand for ultrafast delivery makes good business sense. The immediate impacts cited in the survey are hard to ignore. Executives agree that offering same-day delivery can help them maintain competitive advantage and positioning, sell more product, retain and attract new customers, and keep current customers happy and satisfied. 

Using retail stores to meet the demand for ultrafast delivery

As retailers look to offer ultrafast, same-day delivery, they need to ensure they can get inventory where and when it is needed no matter the size. The BODFS (buy online, delivery from store) model is one way retailers are fulfilling this demand and helping customers get their orders faster. 

Blurring the lines between in-person and online transactions, BODFS gives retailers a step up on e-commerce retailers. By using their stores as a launching point for last-mile distribution, they reduce the time from customer purchase to order arrival. Of the Roadie/studioID survey respondents, 52% percent say they ship from store.

Leveraging their store network isn’t the only strategic advantage retailers have at their disposal to meet their same-day shipping goals. In fact, three out of five logistics executives (60%) say their organization ships from warehouse, distribution or fulfillment centers for direct-to-consumer fulfillment. Other direct-to-consumer fulfillment methods frequently used include order online, pick up at store (48%) and ship from manufacturer (46%).

Add on-demand delivery platform that scales with the needs of your customers

The key to effectively using these methods for ultrafast delivery comes down to inventory management. It is essential that retailers adopt an inventory management system that can analyze purchasing patterns that help retailers place the right product and amount of product in stores and fulfillment centers. Faster fulfillment means getting inventory as close to customers as possible. Without the right inventory platform, same-day delivery and BODFS can be complex and costly. 

While inventory is an important piece of the same-day delivery puzzle, additional strategies have been found to be effective in successful ultrafast delivery implementation. According to the Roadie/studioID survey, these include: 

  • Optimizing internal fulfillment and delivery costs with couriers (39%)
  • Aligning on specific market and customer trends (37%)
  • Ensuring accurate demand assessment (33%) 

Getting inventory as close to customers as possible is critical to keeping pace with demand for ultrafast order arrival. By starting the last mile at a brick-and-mortar retail store in the customer’s community, retailers can respond quickly to demand regardless of when or where the order needs to go.

Solving fulfillment worries through crowdsourced delivery 

The benefits of adopting same-day delivery are obvious, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Two of the biggest concerns to executives surveyed by Roadie and studioID were increased costs and the need to hire more employees. 

This is where the right solution can make all the difference. Roadie’s crowdsourced delivery platform enables retailers to get products in position to be sold quickly, whether that’s direct to consumer from a warehouse, delivery from stores or restocking in-store inventory. 

Instead of worrying about warehouse operations, fleet management and employee benefits, a platform like Roadie can help offset the costs and complexity of same-day delivery. By tapping the Roadie network of crowdsourced drivers, retailers and warehouse teams won’t have to invest in a fleet of their own. 

The results of partnering with Roadie go beyond the ease of crowdsourced delivery. Surveyed executives said same-day delivery stands to help them increase sales, attract new customers, retain loyal ones and improve customer satisfaction. With crowdsourced same-day delivery in their fulfillment toolkit, retailers can be ready to make good on their promise of ultrafast delivery no matter how customers decide to make their purchase.

Give your customers ultrafast delivery they can rely on. Download the full report to learn how crowdsourcing can improve your last-mile delivery strategy.

Survey Report: The Future of Crowdsourced Delivery