Whether we’re adding everyday essentials to a grocery app, splurging on holiday gifts at the mall or hitting “Add to Cart” during some late-night scrolling, Americans love to shop. But as the U.S. retail market reaches $5 trillion, consumers are driving shopping trends in new directions, and retailers must adapt to succeed. 

Ultra-fast delivery is a major component of what shoppers are looking for, followed closely by free delivery and a new desire for tech that’s not too techy. Even in a challenging economic climate, consumers are showing that they’re willing to spend when these conditions are met, and it’s up to retailers to find solutions that meet these needs. 

With crowdsourced delivery, businesses of all sizes are accomplishing all this and more — and they’re also staying competitive with megaretailers, without having to invest billions in infrastructure. Here we take a look at four unique consumer demands driving the retail industry into 2024, and how the flexibility, affordability and speed of crowdsourced delivery addresses them with a single logistics solution.

Omnichannel distribution reaches customers where they are

From brick-and-mortar stores to direct-to-consumer shopping, the retail landscape is far-reaching — and the lines are blurring. Business management firm American Management Services says ecommerce businesses are finding value in offering customers tangible experiences. Meanwhile, traditional in-store shopping is branching out to the virtual world with interactive displays, augmented reality and more. 

At the same time, shoppers are likely to see your products in multiple places before making a purchase: on a TV commercial, an online ad, direct mail coupons and catalogs, on a shelf in a store or even in the hands of a friend or family member. (In fact, most sales experts say it takes anywhere from seven to 12 touchpoints to inspire a consumer purchase.) Wherever your customer happens to be when they’re ready to buy, no matter how far away that is, your logistics service needs to be there too. 

Crowdsourced delivery offers the flexibility that this omnichannel retail landscape demands. While your in-store fulfillment team can handle buy-online, pickup-in-store and curbside-pickup order processing, the Roadie network of 200,000 crowdsourced drivers is ready to help you take things further for same-day delivery up to 100 miles — with no cut off times . 

Crowdsourcing brings technology with a human touch

Retailers have leaned heavily into technology, from online ordering and chatbots to virtual reality tools that let you see a product in your room before you purchase. But as it turns out, consumers are tiring of a highly automated world. New Accenture research found that consumers feel like technology is “something that happens to them rather than for them.” Two out of five frequent tech users (41%) say technology is complicating their lives as much as simplifying it.

With that in mind, retailers need to mindfully implement tech that will add to the customer experience and not detract from it. At its core, crowdsourced delivery is an ideal option: It bolsters the customer experience with ultra-fast delivery while keeping a human element close at hand. 

Take features like order tracking and photographic delivery confirmation with Roadie, for example. These capabilities, built directly into the Roadie platform, fulfill customers’ growing demands to know where their order is at all times. Plus, knowing that orders arrived safely at the correct destinations gives both recipients and senders peace of mind. And if a problem should arise, Roadie gives retailers easy access to 24/7/365 help so they can follow through on a positive customer experience.

Shoppers expect deals — and free shipping — amid inflation

Americans continue to deal with rising inflation by speaking with their wallets — but not necessarily by buying less. While the Consumer Confidence Index continued to decline in the fall, experts noted that shoppers continue to “spend heavily on both goods and services.” Researchers at Forrester agreed, finding that consumer expenditures are slowing down “not because people are buying less, but because they are paying less for what they buy.” 

Essentially, shoppers are looking for discounts on everything so they can maintain their shopping habits despite rising prices. Shipping and delivery costs are an important part of that savings equation. Overpriced shipping disproportionately affects cart abandonment, and new research from First Insight supports this. A full 40% of surveyed shoppers expect to spend $5 or less on shipping, with more than 40% of that group saying they’re unwilling to pay for shipping at all. 

Retailers need to have low-cost delivery options on deck and creative ways to incorporate delivery fee discounts into their promotional strategies. At the logistics level, starting with affordable, flexible and scalable crowdsourced delivery means everyone wins. Retailers can offer a variety of delivery timelines and price points to stay competitive, and customers get their orders fast — as soon as the same day — without dinging their budgets. 

Frictionless returns call for crowdsourced reverse logistics 

For many consumers, getting a good price and low-cost delivery is only part of the equation. The COVID-19 pandemic inspired more relaxed return policies, and online shoppers have come to expect those policies to continue. Large retailers like Kohl’s have had long-standing no-questions-asked return policies, and Amazon has expanded its returns network to include its own Locker locations, The UPS Store, Whole Foods and other designated drop-off spots.

Needless to say, retailers need a solution that will keep their returns process as competitive as their delivery strategy. This is an area where crowdsourcing shines — and differentiates your business. With a national network of 200,000 independent drivers, senders on the Roadie platform have easy access to an on-demand returns-initiation team they know and trust. 

The process is simple. Rather than tasking customers with finding a place to return their items, crowdsourcing offers easy reverse logistics with no additional setup. Simply enter the customer’s address as the pickup point for an on-demand gig, and advise the customer of their convenient pickup time — as soon as the same day, just like ultra-fast deliveries. Choose a brick-and-mortar store, warehouse or even a drop-off box as your delivery destination, and you’ll have returned items back in your inventory in no time. 

Crowdsourcing builds brand loyalty and business success

Taken together, these four important consumer trends create an opportunity for brands to build loyalty with delivery success. When customers find a business that puts the products they’re looking for right in their hands, no matter where they are, and without overspending their budgets, they’ll turn to that business time and again. 

The best part is that businesses can meet all four of these demands with a single logistics solution: crowdsourced delivery. With user-friendly technology and a solution-focused mindset, the Roadie team is ready to put ultra-fast, affordable crowdsourced delivery to good use in your logistics mix and keep those customers coming back. Reach out today to learn how easy crowdsourced delivery is to blend into your plans for business growth.