Same-day delivery: How to make it work for you

Unsurprisingly, same-day delivery is a huge fulfilment challenge, especially for brands with a smaller budget. So, how can you make it happen? And is it worth it? 

Same-day delivery: How to make it work for you

July 5, 2019

As technology continues to evolve, our patience is getting shorter and shorter. We’re now at the point where we expect results instantaneously, whether that’s hot water, a Google search result or a fully loaded webpage. 

Our desire for instant gratification means that ecommerce stores are facing a unique challenge: how can online shopping match the immediacy of physical shops? 

Next-day delivery has gone from being a premium option to the industry standard, meaning smaller brands have had to start offering it to compete with subscription models like Amazon Prime and ASOS Premier. 

This shift has made room for a new premium delivery option: same-day delivery. 

Over the last couple of years, companies like Amazon, Argos, Sainsbury’s and Fartfetch have rolled out same-day delivery options in select cities, with some even offering same-hour delivery windows. 

Unsurprisingly, same-day delivery is a huge fulfilment challenge, especially for brands with a smaller budget. So, how can you make it happen? And is it worth it? 

The pros & cons of same-day delivery

Same-day delivery is a great way to convert last-minute shoppers and serial spenders, but it also comes with a heap of logistical and financial complications. Before you worry about how to get it done, you need to decide if it’s worth it in the first place.  

Pros:

It gives you an edge over the competition: Despite the fact that 80% of consumers want same-day shipping, only 53% of brands currently have it as an option. By offering your customers same-day delivery, you’re getting orders out faster than almost half of the world’s businesses. 

Customers are more likely to buy: According to a study by Temando, consumers are 49% more likely to shop online if same-day delivery is available. This is especially true of brands with perishables, like flowers or groceries, but can also be seen across different industries. Whether it’s shopping for a last-minute bikini or acting on a whim, same-day delivery gives you the chance to meet your customers’ shifting demands. 

Better customer experience: Same-day delivery shows you can go above and beyond for your customer. Rapid shipping is still a fairly new concept, so offering it now means you’re providing a better experience than your competitors.

Fewer failed deliveries: One of the reasons customers opt for same-day delivery is that they’ll be home to accept the package – meaning fewer failed deliveries for your courier. 

Cons: 

It increases the risk of fraudulent orders: Because same-day delivery moves orders through the shipping process so quickly, it can make it harder to spot fraud. Make sure you set up rules in your ERP or ecommerce platform that trigger fraud warnings and move fraudulent orders through a different workflow. If you’re manually reviewing orders, same-day delivery isn’t a feasible option. 

Time zones get even trickier: If you’re solely UK-based, this won’t be a problem. But if you’ve got international warehouses, you’ll need to factor different time zones in – especially if you’re working with timed data syncs. Make sure your syncs are timed before the order cut-off time in all applicable time zones. 

There’s more chance of fulfilment issues and late delivery: There’s no getting around it – offering same-day delivery is a challenge. Processing orders and getting them out the door that quickly opens you up to a greater risk of late deliveries, overselling and fulfilment errors. These issues completely negate any benefits of same-day delivery, so make sure you’re confident you can deliver on your brand’s promises.

The window for changing or cancelling orders gets even smaller: Same-day delivery means orders need to be submitted to your warehouse almost immediately. Most brands don’t allow customers to amend or cancel orders once they’ve been submitted, but if for some reason you need to manually change an order, it might already be too late. 

Same-day delivery vs same-day shipping: If you’re using a third-party logistics or courier service, make sure you’re clear about what they can offer. While plenty of third-party companies offer same-day shipping, that doesn’t always mean the products will reach your customer’s door that day.

How to offer same-day delivery

Despite the risks and the additional cost, the densely populated UK is actually ideally suited to offering same-day delivery. England has an average of almost 430 people per km², compared to America’s 35 people per km²

So, how can you make rapid delivery work for you? 

First off: Is it even feasible? 

Location plays a big part in offering faster delivery, so make sure courier services in your area have it as an option. Most logistic providers still don’t have same-day delivery as a service, so it’s likely you’ll have to pay more for one that does. Some UK logistic companies are starting to roll out same-day delivery, but it’s usually only available in large cities. 

You’ll also need to think about whether delivering products this quickly will be financially viable. It takes a huge amount of resource and organisation to get products out the door that quickly. If you’re not already set up with a warehouse management system, a third-party logistics provider and an integration platform, same-day delivery is going to be an expensive endeavour. Although the benefits can be huge, it’s only worth it if you have a large order volume that will offset the cost. 

If in doubt, stick to next-day delivery. Don’t offer same-day options if there’s a risk you’ll let customers down. 

Make sure you’ve got a robust infrastructure

For starters, same-day delivery requires a scalable warehouse system and plenty of staff. Orders need to be picked, packed and dispatched no more than a few hours after they were placed.

Unless like Amazon you’re prepared to shell out for your own fleet of same-day delivery drivers, you’ll also need to invest in a third-party fulfilment company – if you haven’t you already. You’ll then need to set up integrations – either through an integration platform or through point-to-point connectors – so that you can schedule data syncs between your ecommerce platform and your fulfilment systems. 

Work out an achievable cut-off time

While the cut-off for next-day delivery is normally 5 pm, same-day deliveries need to be placed much earlier, normally before noon. Offering late-evening deliveries in one way to help extend this window, but make sure you leave plenty of leeway time to get your deliveries out. 

Roll it out gradually

If you’re ready to get set up with same-day delivery, it’s best to trial it in one or two cities at first. That way, you can monitor the results, review the cost and iron out any kinks before you decide if it’s worth rolling out across your business. 

Will same-day delivery become the industry standard?

With more and more start-ups and logistic companies cropping up to meet rapid delivery demands, it’s likely we’ll be seeing a lot more same-day deliveries over the next few years. Although we’re far from it being the industry standard, it’s worth keeping an eye out on how you’re competitors are handling increasing consumer demand. 

Chloé Rose Whitmore

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