In 2017, an estimated 1.66 billion people worldwide purchased goods of all kinds online, mostly apparel, books, shoes, cosmetics, small home appliances, toys and other consumer electronics. By 2021 the retail e-commerce sales is to almost double by 2021. E-commerce sector is growing and it does not intend to stop.
The trend opens up unlimited opportunities for online businesses to expand and drive sales and revenues growth. But to accomplish that, it is necessary to observe online customers’ behaviors and offer services tailored to their needs. Time-consuming task but profit-making and loyalty-enhancing, 100% worth it.
‘You have successfully sold the product’. What’s next?
It’s easy to choose a product and click the ‘Buy’ button. But then, responsibility rests with the online shop to collect the order and hand it to the courier operator for delivery. At this stage the biggest problem arises. For those working in logistics industry it is the so-called ‘Last mile problem’, for laymen – the last mile of delivery of goods from the hub to the customer.
Online shoppers are used to having their parcels delivered directly to their homes. However, customers also tend to be frequently out of home at the time of delivery – as it is estimated, around 20% of deliveries to residential buildings fail on the first attempt. The absence of the receiver means that the delivery cannot be processed and must be postponed. So close and yet so far.
Delivery by courier. Is it a monopolist on the market?
According to the latest ‘Ecommerce in Poland 2018’ report, delivery by courier is preferred by 75% respondents (Ecommerce in Poland 2018, Gemius). The percentage is high and it would seem that there is no room for other possibilities. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are plenty of delivery methods and one of them, graduallygaining popularity, is a delivery to alternative pick-up locations. As indicated in the latest edition of UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ study 73 percent of e-consumers in Poland are interested in shipping to an alternative delivery location that has extended opening hours for a reduced fee (UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ 2017, Europe Study).
Alternative pick-up location. What does this term stand for?
Alternative pick-up locations are parcel collection points placed in neighborhood business, for instance in local shops, convenience stores, cafeterias, petrol stations or laundries. Frequently, these places are opened longer making it easier to collect shipments after work.
Let’s have a look at the advantages of alternative pick up locations:
- Customers can pick up their shipments at the time convenient for them in a place located nearby their home address;
- There is no need to await the courier at home anymore, one can spend this time on more productive or entertaining activities;
- The delivery is fast and kept at a reasonable price, very often even cheaper than a delivery by courier;
- Making surprises to housemates is easier than ever and so is unlimited online shopping, naturally as long as the budget allows.
Alternative delivery options are driven by online shoppers’ expectations
Alternative pick-up locations are, with no doubts, an added value both for online shops and courier operators. The possibility of choosing an alternative to courier services is an answer to present online shoppers’ expectations. According to the latest research ‘Logistics in online shops 2018’ providing at least 3 or 4 delivery methods, more than ever before, is a must for online businesses (Logistics in online shops 2018. Where do couriers, the post and parcel rockers head for?, Shoper, 2018).
This fact couldn’t have gone unnoticed by companies operating in the ecommerce sector. Almost every courier operator offers alternative pick-up locations in one form or another. The solution is steadily improved and the network continually expanded. And it’s beneficial for both courier companies and customers.
The number of products purchased online is on the rise and so is the demand for reliable and varied delivery methods. Courier services dominate the market but alternative pick-up locations have started to perform significant role in the e-commerce sector as well. Will they become even more favored in the future? Time will tell.