Why speed to deliver may be Amazon’s undoing

In the era of sustainability, can Amazon’s obsession with its three business drivers serve it in the future?

Basically, if you work for Amazon and want your boss to fund an initiative, it has to relate to either free delivery, free returns or 1-day shipping, or you won’t get the money. For all its talk of order consolidation and reduced packaging, it still acts primarily on these three mantras.

The generations from A to Z all want their stuff now, but do they really? First of all, who told them they needed their stuff within 24 hours? You guessed it, Amazon. And what percentage of John Lewis customers opt for fast delivery though click and collect and then turn up late? Ben Farrell at this week’s Delivery Conference in London didn’t say but it’s high.

Speed merchants

Multispeed supply chains are the future, and for a variety of reasons that Amazon may well be slow or unable to react to, because their whole brand is based around speed and free everything. Multispeed means I need to get my Hello Fresh! Delivery quickly because it contains fresh food whereas, do I really need to get my new paper shredder for next day delivery, unless the FBI are on my case?

Would I be prepared to wait a week or even longer for multiple orders to be delivered all at once, in the same box or even, as John Lewis does for come click and collect, in a reusable bag that the courier takes back? The answer of course is yes, as long as I get an incentive in addition to the warm feeling generated by reducing packaging and road miles. For instance, why not offer an Amazon Prime-style delivery service where I pay monthly to get all the things I really don’t need to get quickly. And over time, as I get the hang of it and beat my speed addiction, I can move all my deliveries to my slow delivery account. I may even cancel my HelloFresh subscription because the amount of packaging involved is just ridiculous. Even the bin man may one day tell me to just cut down on the crap.

Consumers don’t always need it NOW

Seriously though, it is clear after attending the Delivery Conference, that the courier companies, the aggregators and tech companies are more than capable of delivering the slower supply chain and are pressurising the brands to respond. Consider one exhibitor, Cycleon, which unusually integrates reverse logistics and returns management and analytics into a single solution, and offers it internationally.

Another vendor there, Loqate, which is part of GBG and the modern name for location and identity verification specialists, PCA Predict, has teamed up with what3words to enable micro-location of multiple assets within a single post code or address. For instance, you can now uniquely identify your oil tank and the order management system can add personalised activation data such as, only fill to 2,000 litres, or the key is under the mat, or, ignore the other tank which is actually disused.

Sustainability shines through

In short, the brands are starting to want this, and their customers have always wanted it; add sustainability and you have delivery and service capabilities that completely contradict Amazon’s value proposition. For its competitors, here is a major business opportunity that they can exploit right now.

The Delivery Conference took place on 4th February in London.

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