Delivering on the Promise of Online Retail

With the massive increase in online shopping, the delivery work industry has developed along in response to consumers’ demands for fast, personalised service.

Shoppers of the 21st century have become accustomed to convenience offered by online retail outlets. They are used to ordering anything they want, from anywhere and at any time. As online revenues rise and competition hots up, retail companies are seeking innovation in the sector that keeps everything moving: the delivery industry. By providing fast, cheap delivery work for their customers, online retailers are virtually guaranteed to increase their sales.

The Rise of Online Retail

English entrepreneur Michael Aldrich is credited with inventing online shopping in 1979, even before the introduction of the Internet. Aldrich’s system connected a modified television with a processing computer, which allowed online transactions between businesses and consumers.

After the first World Wide Web servers and browsers were introduced for commercial use in 1991, online transactions exploded. The first secure retail transaction over the web was conducted in 1994, and by the next year, and eBay were both launched – creating a massive amount of delivery work.

Twenty years later, online retail is estimated to account for 15.2% of all UK retail sales. On average, UK consumers will each spend £1,174 online in 2015, making them the most frequent online shoppers in Europe. What’s more, the advent of the smartphone has only added fuel to the online retail fire. With constant and portable access to the Internet, shoppers can purchase online while travelling on the bus or even while waiting in line at the coffee shop. Retailers have responded to the rise of ‘m-commerce’ (mobile commerce) by prioritizing the design of their mobile sites to make them as responsive and enticing as possible.

Making Online Retail Work

As online retail has become more mainstream, retailers had to become more competitive in their delivery operations. The courier and haulage industries have thrived with the massive upturn in delivery work and there are a number of innovations making the e-retail battlefield even more streamlined.  

Better Home Delivery

This autumn, House of Fraser rolled out a new, hyper-convenient home delivery service: shoppers who order online before 8:00pm can opt for delivery by 9:00am the next morning. For the busy worker, this service is extremely attractive, as few people can take time out to receive a package in the middle of the day.

Click and Collect, Click and Commute

Many grocery chains offer click and collect – shop online, and then collect it at the nearest store – but ‘click and commute’ is swiftly becoming the next big thing. Grocers like Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Waitrose now give shoppers the option of picking up their online orders in a Transport for London station, making the evening commute a convenient and productive affair.

Around the Clock Availability

Delivery via lockerbank is steadily becoming more popular across the UK. Accessible at all hours, lockerbanks hold deliveries at transport stations or other central locations until the customer is ready to pick them up. Waitrose operates several temperature-controlled lockerbanks at London stations, and Amazon now has lockerbanks at Birmingham International Airport.

The proliferation of online retail has changed the face of delivery work, making it smarter, faster, and more personalised. As customers continue to demand more from their online retail experience, the delivery industry will continue to innovate alongside it.