Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Making a typical final mile home delivery in the COVID-19 era has changed for the foreseeable future. Many retailers have risen to the challenge and innovated quickly to provide options - driven by consumer preferences.
Prior to the pandemic, the majority of deliveries made by full-line furniture retailers were a variation of the “white glove” delivery method. This included full setup and assembly inside the consumer’s home. As the pandemic progressed, new delivery options emerged as concern over social distancing and safety became a primary concern with the consumer.
We saw the following five options emerge including some contactless and contact-free options:
“Curbside” | Drop Off (garage or porch)
Threshold Delivery Type 1 - (placed just inside the home, unassembled, in the manufacturer’s packaging)
Threshold Delivery Type 2 - (placed just inside the home, assembled, at the Retailer’s distribution center)
BOPIS - Buy Online - Pickup in Store (limited to retailers that have e-commerce channels) online options allowing for pick-up in-store or at the Retailer’s Distribution Center.
White-Glove - placement and set up in the home (traditional method)
It appears that as the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, the percentage of consumers requesting a contact-free delivery remains in the range of 20-40% - depending, in part, upon geography. This was discussed recently by Supply Chain leaders on an HFA Webinar titled “White gloves give way to latex gloves.” https://myhfa.org/webinar/white-glove-gives-way-to-latex-gloves/
The expert panelists on the WEBINAR included HFA Executive Vice President Mark Schumacher along with Carl Nyberg, COO of HOM Furniture, Charlie Workman, president of Riverstone Logistics, and our CEO Riaz Husein of Profit Chain. Each of the panelists reported varying experiences with the special requests for adaptive techniques for COVID deliveries ranging from 20% to approximately 40% of deliveries. The common thread of the WEBINAR clearly conveyed a message that retailers have had to be nimble and quick to adapt to new delivery techniques. Consumer expectations and a heightened awareness driven by the pandemic and COVID-19 has clearly moved many companies towards creating a more deliberate and thoughtful delivery process. Whatever delivery method you provide, the overriding goal going forward should be focused on promoting a safe and seamless delivery experience for the consumer.
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CUSTOMER FEEDBACK Last but not least - we believe that every retailer should survey their customer post-delivery on the day of delivery. This guidance applies to retailers who use their own employee driver teams or third party logistics (3PL) providers. Having a consistent survey and feedback system in place for your home delivery will ensure that you know your final contact with the customer ends with a great experience. In today’s digital environment it just makes sense to rate your delivery since there are many affordable options available.
Consider the Net Promoter Score (NPS) or similar system to consistently survey the consumer. There are numerous surveys available with texting features and capabilities. Some retailers are still using outdated phone surveys. These surveys are highly inefficient due to factors such as robocalling issues and consumer trends and lifestyles. When you drill down into the numbers on these surveys you find that contact rates are well under 10% for voice to voice surveys and rely on manual tabulation and subjective interpretation.
This is just the basics of offering and creating a well structured system. Final Mile (In-home) delivery service is an area that many retailers are currently reevaluating. If you are wondering if you should outsource your Final Mile delivery operation to a 3PL provider or keep it in-house, our business advisors can guide you through that process. We have decades of experience putting in delivery programs at major furniture retailers that were designed to delight the consumer and improve Net Promoter Scores and ratings.