The one element of the online buying process in which consumers have consistently expressed a lack of trust is the delivery of goods.
Reports are abounding about e-shoppers waiting days and weeks for items, and of sites that promised two or three-day deliveries not coming through as promised.
To effectively compete with brick-and-mortar companies, e-tailers are going to have to hasten the process of delivery to a consumer base that has become accustomed to instant gratification.
In fact, Jupiter Communications reports that only seven percent of the top 93 e-commerce sites offer same-day delivery.
E-Shopping As A Lifestyle
So far, online shoppers seem to fall into two categories: Those who shop online for the novelty of the experience, and those who research an item online and then purchase it in a traditional store.
However, a growing segment of online shoppers is reversing the latter trend, researching products offline and then making the purchase online to save time or tax expenses. The one element of online shopping that may cause that group to grow is guaranteed same-day delivery.
Speed Is Of The Essence
Barnesandnoble.com, for one, is experimenting with same-day delivery of books ordered online, while various grocers throughout the U.S. are attempting to develop their own guaranteed same-day delivery of goods.
Earlier this week, Samedaymall.com debuted one of the most ambitious delivery undertakings on the Web. The California-based company is claiming that its customers are able to find gift items priced similarly or less than brick-and-mortar stores, order them on their site, and receive them within a few hours. As a bonus, the delivery will be gift-wrapped.
A Costly Undertaking
The problem that e-tailers are likely to encounter in restructuring themselves to provide same-day delivery is cost. Retail stores across the United States once delivered goods the same day they were ordered, but the practice faded from the culture largely because it cost too much. The practice still exists in large urban centers like New York, but not to the extent it did earlier in the century.
Re-instating fast delivery could become the norm for companies like barnesandnoble.com or even Albertson’s Grocery Stores, which is experimenting with nationwide fast delivery networks.
However, the likelihood of smaller mom and pop e-tailers developing same-day delivery is slim. The U.S. Postal service can offer home delivery because it delivers to so many homes every day, but a small retailer may find deliveries too scattered geographically to be cost-effective.
A possible solution may be to charge a nominal fee for delivery, which many online shoppers may be willing to pay for the sake of convenience.