In the competitive world of e-commerce, consumer interest in online shopping has inspired retailers to offer a wider variety of products for online ordering. (Remember when Amazon started as an online bookstore?) Today, shoppers can order just about anything they want via the internet, from weeknight groceries to an oven to cook them in. 

Coincidentally, ovens — or appliances in general — are just one of the bulky and oversize items growing in e-commerce popularity. According to research by the National Home Delivery Association and Armstrong & Associates, the “big and bulky” product segment will see some of the fastest category growth in last-mile delivery over the next three years, amounting to 11.8% growth through 2025. Much of that growth, the research finds, is due to expanding online offerings of appliances, furniture, flooring materials, large electronics and other large-product categories. 

But the availability of large items isn’t the only thing consumers are counting on. Like everything else, they want their items fast — no matter the size. Research found that 41% of shoppers hope to receive their online orders within 24 hours. But how do you make that happen with awkward-sized and heavy items with special logistics needs?

More and more, businesses are turning to crowdsourced delivery to address this need, given how fast and easy it is to bring crowdsourcing into the fold. Below, we’ve outlined four steps your logistics team can take to implement same-day big-and-bulky deliveries with no heavy lifting. 

Understand your big and bulky inventory

In order to tailor your delivery strategy accordingly, identify which items you offer that fall into the big and bulky category. This could include furniture, appliances or anything that requires a bit more space and extra handling. Carriers usually publish max weights or dimensions that push items into oversize item surcharges. Have you added more of these large items recently, or are bulky products growing in demand? How oversized are these items anyway? In the furniture world, for instance, are you offering standard-size sofas around 90 inches wide by 30 inches deep, or are your largest offerings wider and deeper? A luxury lounger, for example, might require more handling or push you into a larger vehicle size for transport. 

With a better understanding of your oversize inventory, you can start identifying the best vehicles (literally and figuratively) for getting those items to customers as quickly as the same day. 

Gauge delivery costs

Larger items invariably bring larger delivery fees regardless of dimensional weight or actual weight measurements. The bigger or heavier the item, the more parcel carriers must account for manual handling processes, inconvenient items that don’t fit neatly on a pallet, and other issues that can’t be automated like smaller-sized items. All of this turns into fees that you have to either absorb (gulp!) or pass along to customers (double gulp!).

The good news is, while online shoppers generally expect fast, free delivery (and abandon carts when fees are too high), they’re more reasonable about delivery fees for big and bulky orders. “There are some products for which consumers will enthusiastically pay for delivery because it solves a major headache for them,” says Dennis Moon, COO and head of operations at Roadie. Shoppers know they’re paying for convenience, so charging a big and bulky delivery fee is more palatable.

Having said that, there is a way to keep oversized delivery fees as low as possible, both for your business and your customers. Adding a crowdsourced delivery solution like RoadieXL™ to your logistics mix can help reduce your fees for big and bulky orders, while simultaneously increasing delivery speed.

As you wade into more oversized deliveries, take a careful side-by-side look at carriers’ base big and bulky fees, surcharges, equipment and labor add-on costs, and delivery speed. All of this will give you a true understanding of your delivery expenses so you can identify the value of crowdsourcing vs. working with traditional carriers. 

Address packaging, labor and delivery equipment needs

While you’re researching delivery fees, be sure to include other logistics requirements among your carriers. Some traditional carriers may require additional packaging, crating, palletting or wrapping of bulky items before they’ll accept them. And what happens when those items arrive in the customer’s driveway? The last 50 feet of the last mile — those steps from truck to doorstep — usually require extra team members and equipment to get them to the customer’s home safely. 

While packaging may seem like a nominal fee, small costs can add up — but the overhead associated with delivery staff is no small cost. The 51% of supply chain pros that maintain and staff their own same-day delivery fleets know this all too well. But those extra costs aren’t a foregone conclusion. 

Roadie research finds that nearly a third of surveyed organizations (29%) have a crowdsourced delivery platform in their logistics mix, which can streamline the same-day delivery process significantly. Not only does Roadie allow you to eliminate packaging requirements for any size item, but the crowdsourced delivery network will match your needs with a driver and vehicle outfitted with hand trucks or trailers as needed. The kicker? Even these added services come at substantial cost savings compared to traditional or LTL carriers.

Schedule smart

Because oversized items can be logistically tricky, customers are often forced to fit their schedule to retailers’ delivery windows, however inconvenient they may be. Rather than asking your customer to take half the day to wait for their new refrigerator, choosing the right logistics tool can put control back in the customer’s hands. 

Crowdsourced delivery gives retailers access to an on-demand driver network that can enable pick up and delivery of oversize items in the same day. They can also help you adjust your cut-off times, giving customers easier access to furniture, appliances, equipment, construction materials and more when they need them — not simply when you can make them available. With better scheduling flexibility, crowdsourcing has the potential to improve your customer experience, boosting satisfaction ratings, loyalty and repeat business as a result. 

Solve big and bulky problems with Roadie

Putting some forethought into speeding up big and bulky deliveries helps make implementing your plan even easier when the time comes. And that’s saying something, considering how easy it is to work with the Roadie platform in the first place. Even national brands can ramp up their crowdsourced same-day delivery capabilities fast, like Tractor Supply which rolled out their plan to more than 1,400 stores in less than three weeks!

With a dedicated team to answer all your questions, walk you through onboarding and get your whole organization ready to go, Roadie is ready to help you make ultrafast oversize delivery your next logistics success. Learn more about Tractor Supply’s experience here, and reach out today to learn more about going big and bulky with Roadie.