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Are alternative delivery options being marketed as well as they could be?

Consumers these days are getting a lot more demanding. Particularly those aged 18-34, the so-called ‘millennial generation’ or generation Y to some. Millennials expect brands to deliver a service on their terms – what they want and when they want it, and if they don’t get this, they will just go elsewhere. This has forced brands to diversify their offerings, particularly in the ecommerce space, to meet evolving needs.

One example of how online retailers have responded is a growing trend of click and collect services, for both traditional and pure-play online retailers. Indeed there is a huge amount of media coverage about new locker services being rolled out, by companies like ByBox and InPost, including plans to convert vacant spaces in London Underground stations.

But, use of these services has yet to take off. Recently the Royal Mail and Venda released figures around UK consumer shopping habits, which shows that a surprising 73% of consumers haven’t used alternative delivery methods, such as Collect+ or locker services, to get a more convenient and flexible delivery solution.

While marketers are grasping their significance, there is a long way to go in creating wider public awareness. There is a need to educate the public and understand those factors that might make them resistant to the concept. But then again, where does the responsibility for educating consumers lie – is it with the carriers, or with the retailers themselves? That’s just one part of the problem.

Fortunately, the industry does understand that you can’t just build locker networks and expect consumers to jump on board. Take retailers like Waitrose and Tesco as an example. They are bringing click and collect to the London Underground, with facilities to provide this service in six TFL stations. It may not be the answer to all of consumers’ needs but it is widening the choices available to them. However, this needs to be more than just a London-centric initiative – this kind of thinking has to be nationwide.

Companies such as InPost, who provide lockers for deliveries at locations like Victoria Coach Station, as well as the London Underground, are doing some very imaginative customer engagement campaigns to  spread the alternative delivery message. They’re combining their new locker location openings with the chance for consumers to discover surprise gift sets in their lockers, to trigger word of mouth marketing and encourage usage.

And finally, it’s important not to get carried away with click and collect services as a silver bullet for exceptional delivery experiences. It’s one of several innovations that brands need to access to serve their customers. Asos’s premier delivery package is a great example of a brand adapting its delivery options to suit its customers’ needs. For a set yearly amount, Asos’s customers can enjoy things like unlimited next day delivery and free returns collection. Given Asos’s target demographic is the millennials – flexible options like these are ideal for them.

Clearly though there’s still a job to be done to better educate the market on the alternative options available to them. Flexible options that work around consumers’ lifestyles and are best suited to their needs will ultimately help to foster greater brand loyalty and establish a loyal customer base – surely a goal for any retailer.