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IdeaBar: Fedex HyperLocal Delivery

This past weekend I spent most of the day on Saturday at home waiting for a delivery.  The promised window was between 11 and 2 … and not surprisingly, 2pm rolled around with no delivery in sight.  The delivery was from Home Depot, but it just as easily could have been any furniture or appliance store in the local area.  For some reason, local delivery in this area (and probably most other areas across the US) seems to happen in one of two ways:

  1. A store has its own delivery person and schedules that person to do all home deliveries
  2. A store outsources delivery to a third party company who picks up the product and delivers it

Sounds pretty simple, but as we all know it is usually a nightmare.  In situation 1, the driver is delayed, can’t find the house, has too many deliveries, or cannot be scheduled for delivery until some point far into the future.  In situation 2, the worst case is that the store has no idea where the delivery is after it is picked up and has no way to help a frustrated customer.  This is the situation I found myself in this past Saturday.  It got me thinking about home delivery and who does it right.  Fedex and UPS (and even USPS) have a far more sophisticated model for tracking every package, truck and driver.  They can tell you where anything is at any time.  Of course, they also run into delays and are not on time … but at least they know where things are. 

What if one of those companies that does it right introduced a "hyperlocal delivery service."  Essentially a business to business solution, this would allow a company like Home Depot to use the logistics and technical savvy that Fedex or UPS have spent years perfecting.  Sound complicated?  Not really – as is already doing this for online retailers by offering their delivery process as an outsourced service and taking a cut off the top.  For Fedex or UPS, all that would be required is creating a way to pickup at multiple locations and integrating this with routes their drivers are already taking.  It’s not easy, but certainly not impossible.  Fedex or UPS, are you listening?

About the Idea Bar:
  Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don’t fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right. Inspired by John at Digital Influence Mapping Project, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

3 thoughts on “IdeaBar: Fedex HyperLocal Delivery”

  1. Its a real pain and nobody benefits from this kind of process breakdown. One of our corporate clients uses our company to send out voice reminders the night before asking you to confirm that you are going to be there at that time. Another in the morning to tell you we are “x time” away. We now provide the capability of “mashing up” with a GPS service so that when the truck hits “X” distance from the customers home, it automatically calls them to give them an update on your progress, and perhaps give them a little time to prepare for the delivery. What I love about this whole use-case is that GPS enables customer valued push messages that help both parties to co-ordinate.

  2. You’re exactly right. The system for most home deliveries is broken. There’s nothing more painful for the customer than waiting for something that doesn’t come on time, and I can’t see how the company would benefit from having a delivery system that wasn’t reliable. First of all, they’re probably having to pay more than they bargained for labor, and they’re making the customers mad. Definitely sounds like a winning proposition…

    As you suggested, they should take some tips from FedEx and UPS.


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