Last weekend I had the pleasure of moving house. As with every Sunday, by mid-afternoon my mind began to ponder the week to come and it dawned on me I was short of an iron and board. Cue visions of me traipsing into work the following morning in a rather dishevelled state.
Not wanting to bus across London to find a supermarket open and big enough to stock ironing boards, I jumped onto my phone to find any alternative that would allow me to stay in the house and make a dent in the unopened boxes around me. Having Googled “same day delivery iron”, I went with the first retailer on the list, Argos.
As ever, Argos had a large range (82 irons!) and some solid promotions; I chose a reputable brand with 50% off. From the product page I was encouraged to add a postcode and having done so received the message I was hoping for “Buy now and get same day delivery”. Given that this was nearly 3pm on a Sunday, I was pretty surprised - and pleasantly so.
As it happens, Argos offer a same-day delivery service seven days a week, covering 90% of UK postcodes. There are four delivery slots in all, with the cut-off set at a quite remarkable 6pm. And all this is priced at a very reasonable £3.95; a significant number given that research suggests that the maximum shoppers are willing to pay for same-day delivery happens to be £4 or less.
This superb customer offer is an example of a retailer who is making use of their store estate to fight back at the lean etailers coming for their business. By breaking down the online/store silos, Argos are able to eke out as much value as possible from each piece of inventory, offering same-day home delivery on the fast moving stock in their 800 stores, or offering the option to collect any of their extended range of distribution centre inventory in a local store.
The result is clearly happy faces all round: customers get more flexibility and shorter delivery lead times and Argos get improved stock optimisation across the network, reduced markdown and, hopefully, more sales. If only it were that easy. The reality is that shipping from store is easy to get wrong and can result in frantic store staff, over-depletion of store stock and disappointed customers (both online and in store) without the right planning and preparation.
Nevertheless, increasingly the last mile is becoming the key battleground for retailers as shoppers demand more convenience. Being able to offer predictable delivery slots, free next-day delivery and an accessibly priced same-day service is becoming the norm, so the challenge cannot be shied away from. Retailers must make significant investments in technology and training and, crucially, they must do it whilst making the economics work for their business.
For more information on how to avoid the challenges highlighted above read our handy guide: How NOT to do ship from store.