New Brick & Mortar Players Enter Shipping Wars

October 14, 2015 Jessica Thiele

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Why Shipping Matters. (Source)

Not too long ago I talked about how Shoes.com is revolutionizing the way shoe addicts shop by promising 2-hour delivery of their products. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to look into upping your shipping game, news broke this past week that Walmart and 7-11 have teamed up for a delivery pilot project in Toronto. If you’ve been in a Walmart lately, I bet that you’ve already noticed these locker systems stacked ominously against the back wall, usually near the checkouts. (And, like me, you probably have yet to see anyone actually retrieve their orders from one of these lockers, but hey – the idea is there.) The whole logic behind these lockers is to appeal to the 9-to-5 business crowd who wants to order online, but isn’t home during peak delivery hours (also known as 9-to-5) to receive their package.

I’ve seen these boxes pop up here and there, with frequency that leads me to believe these things (or the concept) is breeding like rabbits.

But the problem with this logic that the Walmart/7-11 partnership is aiming to solve is that Walmart isn’t open 24 hours a day. So if you’re someone who works odd hours, runs your own business, or has after-work commitments, these boxes being locked up at the end of Walmart’s day still leaves you with the problem of not being able to get your damn package. So voila, 7-11 to the rescue. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can now get your packages whenever you please. The e-commerce train rolls on. And I’ve seen these boxes pop up here and there, with frequency that leads me to believe these things (or the concept) is breeding like rabbits. Loblaws took a more direct approach to the above described access issue by brilliantly just putting these lockers outside of their stores. (An absolute strike of genius, I’m sure – I would have loved to have been in the board meeting when that was put forth. I hope there were applause and a standing ovation.) And on a recent trip to London, England, I noticed an Amazon locker in a mall that had perpetual access to its common spaces. IMG_0719

Source: Personal Photo.

So even the most mundane and least exciting element of the supply chain for omni-channel retail is evolving with the times. Who thought shipping could be this exciting? These lockers are just one shaky step forward in advancing the industry and solving a consumer need – being able to access their ecommerce goods when and where is most convenient for them. So consider your supply chain and your customers: their needs, desires, and expectations, including on the shipping front.

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