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Delivery: both a brand experience and retail disruptor – Wired Retail conference

Yesterday’s highly anticipated Wired Retail conference in London covered much of the ground you’d expect from a magazine with a focus on What’s Next – mobile, social commerce, next-gen search, and the power of big data.

But one highlight was a look at a previously unloved part of the retail journey – delivery.

US retailers learnt the hard way last Holiday that fulfilment can make or break a season’s trading. Since then, retailers, tech companies and the startup community have ramped up their focus on making sure the same mistakes are not made this time around and the past year/month has seen numerous announcements on next-day/same-day delivery options.

As tech entrepreneur Jack Hidary says: “Delivery is the last impression you leave a customer with, and it will determine whether a consumer will shop more or less with you in future.”

A recent IBM survey backs this up. Some 46% of US customers claimed the post-purchase experience (if it went wrong) was more likely to damage their relationship with a brand.

This marks a significant shift in how delivery is viewed. Once it was an area purely about minimising cost and maximising efficiencies – now it’s a crucial part of the brand experience and one that needs to be designed, marketed and sold with the same focus as your ranges and creative campaigns.

It’s also an area ripe for disruption. Hidary outlined several of the services emerging in the US market such as Postmates and eBay Now, both of which buy from retailers on a customer’s behalf.

Such services are establishing their own trust-based relationships with customers and the logical next step is for them to disintermediate the retailer altogether, and set up their own online stores – which is exactly what Postmates has done with its General Store and Liquor Store – curated retail offers designed around data accumulated through close customer connections.

Will it be successful? You bet. “The problem for retailers among this innovation is the loss of a customer relationship,” warns Hidary. “This revolution is happening but retailers don’t realise implications.”

(Subscribers, check out The Future of Delivery: What’s Next for Retail? and The Growth of Click & Collect in the UK for further analysis).

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