Pre-Christmas Delivery: Ideals Vs Reality

April Davis By April Davis | 19 Dec 2018

Amazon US recently announced it would be offering guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas right up until Christmas Eve… Is the same service possible in Australia? We ask the experts.

Last week, Amazon announced that its Prime members in the US would be able to order products through the online marketplace as late as Christmas Eve and still receive their goods in time for the big day. According to the business, Prime Now will continue delivering orders to 30 cities in the US until 11.59 pm on Christmas Eve through its free two-hour delivery offer.

“Prime was built on the foundation of unlimited fast, free shipping, and we keep working to add faster and even more convenient delivery options,” said Cem Sibav, the vice president of Amazon Prime. “In the last year, Prime members around the world ordered more than two billion products with one-day delivery or faster. And today we announced that Prime members in more than 10,000 cities and towns in the U.S. have access to free one-day shipping or faster,” he continued.”

This is off the back of Amazon Prime revealing its fastest delivery time came in at only eight minutes in 2018, from the time the product was ordered, to the time the product was placed in the hands of the buyer. The ICONIC in Australia has also touted fast delivery times, reporting speeds of as little as 18-minutes to fulfil orders for Australian shoppers. However, these claims do beg the question, are delivery times like this possible? And, if they are, is it reasonable to assume all retailers will eventually be able to meet expectations if the bar is set this high?

It seems retailers and solution providers have a different outlook on this. Jane Lu, the founder and CEO of online women’s fashion business, Showpo, recently took to LinkedIn to express her appreciation for delivery drivers after it took her six hours to deliver three orders in Sydney’s CBD.

Showpo

Jane Lu took to the streets of Sydney to deliver goods to her customers.

“We hand-delivered a bunch of customer orders last Friday and all I can say is that I have much more appreciation for delivery drivers! It took me almost six hours to drive around Sydney for three orders. Definitely didn’t meet the four-hour same-day shipping cut-off,” she wrote.

The business, which is known for its express shipping across the country and same-day delivery in metro Sydney is just one of many struggling to improve order efficiencies in Australia’s vast delivery network. With Christmas cut-offs set to December 20 in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide, the company has one of the latest order dates for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery in Australia.

James Tinsley, the founder of FitMyCar also believes that promising consumers pre-Christmas deliveries is risky. “Even for our pre-made products, we have a cut off for guaranteed delivery five business days out from Christmas Eve,” he tells Power Retail. “The guarantee holds a lot of weight with our customers and we want to be realistic with what we can promise, and manage expectations around this. We still try to deliver before Christmas for as long as we can, but we change our language around this,” he says.

Tinsley also points out the Amazon offering, while good, still comes with a lot of limitations despite the business’s advanced order fulfilment options and e-commerce resources. “I have found the Prime offer depends on where you are, where your closest Amazon warehouse is, and what’s in stock at your location at the time. I would imagine that this offer would be fairly limited, but no doubt Amazon is in the best position to make this happen.”

In Australia, meeting the expectations that have been set by Amazon in the US come with a lot more hurdles, but with delivery times being one of the biggest factors that contribute to online shoppers proceeding with a purchase, they are something that needs to be overcome.

“Comparing AU and US delivery services isn’t necessarily a fair match. The market size, geography, and cost of freight services put a reality of what can be achieved reasonably in Australia,” Tinsley says.

“Despite this, in limited cases offering same-day delivery on Christmas Eve in Australia in metro areas should be possible but it would require planning your logistics around this capability, including warehouse locations, staffing and dispatch systems, and partnering with a reliable provider in the metro location. It would be a challenge for a small-medium e-commerce company to achieve this in multiple metro locations,” he says.

According to Mathew Galt, the co-founder and CEO of Fulfilio, same-day delivery as late as Christmas Eve is within the realm of possibility.

Same-day delivery is an offering consumers deserve and should be achievable at least in major cities throughout Australia, providing the retailer has a local fulfilment operation and can connect with a same-day delivery service,” Galt says.

“One retailer we’re working with this year will be offering Christmas Eve deliveries, where their Australian customers can order right up until 2 pm Christmas Eve and get their order that night in selected metro areas. It’s an awesome offer and relatively easy to do when a retailer has inventory close to their customers and is able to pick, pack, and dispatch into a same day delivery network.”

As more shoppers start shifting their shopping habits to embrace the stress-free, convenient nature of online shopping, especially in the lead up to busy trade periods, like Christmas, same-day shipping is a service that Galt believes consumers should have access to. “We’re going to see more last-minute shoppers come online, and unless it becomes common practice to offer same-day delivery, retailers without a same-day delivery offer will lose out to competitors that can offer it,” he explains.

As far as he is concerned, increasing delivery capabilities all comes down to partnering with the right fulfilment provider.

“For smaller retailers wanting to offer same-day delivery but lack the facilities, it’s going to mean partnering with a fulfilment provider who can help them locate stock close to customers and integrate with a same day delivery offer. And for those larger Australian retailers who already have facilities capable of doing this, they’ll simply need to integrate with a same-day delivery service or partner with a fulfilment provider for their most in-demand products.

“The good news is that same day delivery isn’t impossible in Australia, in fact, it’s quite easy and just around the corner for all businesses.”

Tinsley echoes this sentiment, saying all retailers, whether big or small need to be able to meet consumer demand, however challenging that may be.

“I don’t think there is any point striving for anything but the best,” Tinsley says. “If the demand for same-day delivery on Christmas Eve exists, we should be doing our best to develop systems that will allow us to meet this. At this point in time, FitMyCar couldn’t achieve this, but every year we leap forward.

“Amazon is firing moon shots with their logistics and it keeps pushing them further ahead.”

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