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The speed accuracy trade-off for deliveries

Apr 28, 2022

Modern consumers have been increasingly used to prompt deliveries when ordering products online. Services like Amazon Prime have offered next-day delivery on items for a long time, pushing competitors to pick up the pace to deliver equally quickly. During the pandemic, online purchases exploded, causing unprecedented pressure on the supply chain industry. According to a UPS white paper, eCommerce purchases climbed from 9.9% in 2019 to 13% in 2021. The same report states that in the U.S. over 210 million packages went unaccounted for in 2021 alone, resulting in a surge of paid claims.

The demand for product delivery services is at a record high, with customer expectations equally high. But is brevity really what customers want? The results of a survey conducted by route planning software company, Circuit, suggest not. According to this survey, the specific things that define a quality delivery service in the eyes of the customer don't actually include speedy delivery. Here is a breakdown of what really matters to buyers when ordering online.

Timely, not quickly

Instead of having guaranteed next-day delivery, it seems that online buyers would rather have "timely" service. A small, but not insignificant difference. When it comes to time, being prompt is important, but not any more so than being accurate. Giving realistic, narrower delivery windows that are regularly achieved holds a far greater value for the customer, because it means they can carry on with their lives and not have to plan around ensuring they're home to receive a package.

The primary appeal of online shopping for customers is the ease it provides. It should take up as little of their time as possible. So anything that means it intrudes on their schedule is going to cause consternation. This can mean having to wait for an unreliable delivery, dealing with customer service if things go awry or having to go through a complaints or returns process should an item be lost or damaged.

Safe and secure

Being able to trust a delivery service to find and use their assigned "safe place" should nobody be home is a big factor in providing a quality service. Taking care to keep a delivery out of sight so it's safe from potential theft, covered to avoid the elements, yet easily accessible to the buyer is the key combination to customer satisfaction.

With the haste of speedy delivery, unfortunately, comes the recklessness of drivers rushing to keep up with strained targets. This results in parcels being left in precarious locations, potential damage and even loss. Cutting down on the number of parcels a driver must deliver, or giving them more time to get from one drop-off to the next, will mean fewer instances of packages being hurriedly abandoned somewhere near where they're supposed to end up.

More haste, less speed

Despite its frequent misinterpretation, this old proverb rings very true when it comes to the supply chain. Interestingly, here "speed" is believed to refer to a rather dated definition of the word, meaning luck—like in the phrase godspeed; to wish someone a successful journey. When you supplement speed for luck, this old saying seems to make a lot more sense: The hastier you are, the less good fortune you're likely to have. A sage piece of advice for all elements within the supply chain.

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