Develop robust logistics partnerships. It’s critical to select a transportation partner (or partners) capable of picking up parcels later in the evening than is currently typical, closer to store closing times of 9 to 10 p.m. Transportation partners might not enthusiastically offer late-night service, but the retail industry accounts for a substantial amount of their delivery business—which gives them a vested interest in helping traditional retailers compete with e-tailers.
Send a strong marketing message. A large-scale marketing campaign is important in helping retailers spread the word about a next-day delivery offering, and in articulating the benefits of ordering from the company’s website instead of from an e-commerce competitor.
Managing bricks-and-mortar stores has so consistently been framed as a disadvantage that it’s easy to underrate the value of physical proximity to customers. In reality, these stores may be just the advantage retailers need to gain an edge over their online competitors. A handful of retailers are already experimenting with the “store-to-home” concept, mostly to move out-of-season stock and leverage idle sales capacity—but not to fulfill orders in the evenings and get them to the customer’s door the next day. As Amazon, eBay, and Google push aggressively into rapid delivery, traditional retailers must not hesitate to respond. The storefront advantage is real, but it’s not permanent.
Reprint No. 00213
- Curt Mueller is a partner with Booz & Company and leads the firm’s supply chain practice. He is based in Chicago.
- Andrew Schmahl is a principal with Booz & Company’s engineered products and services practice, and is based in Chicago.
- Andrew Tipping is a partner with Booz & Company and leads the firm’s U.S. transportation practice. He is based in Chicago.
- Also contributing to this article were Booz & Company partner Scott Corwin and principal Umut Aytekin.