To Deliver Or Not To Deliver

It seems like the biggest trend in small business these days is delivery. You can get almost anything delivered right to your door. Does providing delivery make sense for your company? Let’s talk this through.

First, if you are a service business, this obviously does not apply to you. Delivery is a little different than we-come-to-you service, e.g. dog grooming vans. I may address this in a different post.

For those of you who sell goods rather than services, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do our customers want it? First and foremost, would consumers find value in having your products delivered? If the answer is yes, then you should probably consider doing it. Would it attract new customers? What are the customer ramifications if you don’t do it? Will they leave? Or never come in the first place? You need to answer these questions first.

  2. Can we afford to do it? Delivery is not cheap. You have to pay someone to do it or have an employee step away from other duties to do it. You have to have a vehicle capable of delivering the products. You have to carry insurance on that vehicle. All of this costs $$$.

  3. Can we afford to not do it? Quite simply, if our customers expect it, you should really really really consider it. If your competitors do it, you should probably do it. By doing it, you can take away a competitor’s advantage over you.

  4. Are we okay with fewer customers in the store? A major advantage of people coming into a physical location is that they tend to browse and potentially buy more than they intended. This is great for business. If you have delivery, however, you lose this benefit. Are you okay with this?

There is the possibility of having delivery be a source of competitive advantage. Years ago I worked for an office supply retailer in a small town. Their major competitor was a big box store (that shall remain nameless) who sold office supplies. The management of our store decided to offer delivery within a predetermined geographic area. This service was very appealing, especially to business customers. The big box was not flexible enough to make the decision to offer delivery themselves. As a result, it ended up being a key strength of the small business that allowed it to compete against the big box.

In sum, the delivery craze is in full swing, and I don’t see it going away any time soon, if ever. I am not necessarily recommending that everyone join the wave. However, it needs to be considered, with a full weighing of both the pros and cons.