Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

Right here, right now…immediate gratification…can you keep up?

We all know that demands are escalating, patience is a thing of the past, the customer is king and ‘right here, right now’ is the new norm in omni-channel shopping.

But is that really so and has immediacy become the over-riding consumer expectation in retail across the globe?

Here in the UK the majority of shoppers (61%) expect their goods to be delivered into their hands within 24 hours. They want, expect and demand ‘next day’ gratification as par for the course regardless of shopping channel. But a growing number, 20% according to a recent survey, are insisting that ‘same day’ should be the norm and furthermore if quicker were available, an astonishing 37% would embrace a 2 hour delivery timeframe given the option.

Yet oversees in the US where ‘have a nice day’ rules and customer service is everywhere, consumers are more realistic over speed of delivery. 51% expect their goods within 7 days, 38% within 2-3 days and only 4% are demanding ‘next day’.

When did us Brits become such tyrants about speed? Twice as many consumers in the UK (48%) would prefer ‘same day’ delivery than in the US (26%). Yet culturally you would have thought this would be the other way round.

So, consumers want it quick, but the question is can retailers deliver it quick? This is where infrastructure comes into play and classic supply chain capabilities make or break the delivery of the customer promise.

Yet again there is a different approach across the oceans. It seems retailers in the US have been spending their time building concrete and robust distribution networks to underpin the growing wave of customer expectation. They are integrated across channels, they have great visibility and they definitely aren’t strangers to digital innovation which all in all gives them a truly connected network.

By contrast here in Europe we’ve invested in making the customer happy first and foremost without the investment in the infrastructure. Having cobbled together quick fixes to facilitate click ‘n collect and to ensure same day is a reality, it feels as though we’re now having to play catch-up as the need for speed scales up even further and volumes are rising.

And the differences from region to region continue, let’s touch on confidence … from a consumer perspective.

The US survive and thrive in a culture of living up to expectation and making the customer happy. Basically if they say they can do it, they’ll do it and shoppers’ confidence is high.

In Europe we aspire to that end but are flying by the seat of our pants to make it a reality. 47% of Dutch shoppers worry about the retailers’ ability to deliver when they say they will and this has a dramatic impact on their shopping habits.

The concern is that speed puts pressure on the retailer’s ecosystem and if cracks starts to appear eventually something has to give and letting down a customer is really not a good idea in today’s competitive market.

My final, really scary stat is that 40% of shoppers who get let down by a retailer claim that they would NEVER shop their again.

So, the moral of this tale is that YES, speed is clearly key, and YES, it gives you competitive edge, but don’t over promise. Make sure you’ve got what it takes to deliver what, when and where the customer wants before you commit. Break down the siloes in your organisation, integrate your inventory across channels, ensure you have visibility across every node in your network and make that view available to all sales channels and most importantly, the customer.