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The supermarkets will be able to deliver more online if they simply tell people when they will deliver rather than letting customers decide

March 19, 2020 Leave a comment

As someone who set up a successful distribution business by winning a contract with a large newspaper company and setting it up overnight, I’m well aware of how to make a delivery operation flow right for staff and customers in a time sensitive environment.

Of course, as a commercial provider to a business customer, my key considerations were very different to that of a supermarket supplying a weekly shop to a retail customer. Or rather they would have been in normal times.

One of the greatest inefficiencies of the way that supermarkets have been working, has been to give customers the freedom to choose their delivery time and fit the delivery of their online order around that specific requirement.

This in effect means that even with deliveries grouped as much as possible across the number of vans that any store has, they will be zigzagging across a district or suburban area most of the time, adding time and running costs to the journey which limit or short-change the extent of what the driver and vehicle can do.

With the landscape changing and the idea that the customer is always right having been exchanged for one where we will get what the supermarkets can give us at the location and time it is available, the retailers we use for food and essential goods have options to cover more ground in less time and extend their online delivery services during the Coronavirus Crisis in ways that at other times they never could.

It all boils down to just one thing. Telling customers when they will get their delivery rather than giving them options to choose in the way that they currently do.

People are working from home and not going far.

If customers want food and the goods that supermarkets can provide them they will be grateful to have them delivered during the crisis and won’t worry about what time.

By being able to group deliveries into the closest distances between a set of addresses in blocks over a few days, efficiency is certain to increase. Even one more customer per van per shift would help more people than the system currently is.

If the supermarkets start delivering around the clock on a 24hr basis – prioritising more social hours for the elderly, the vulnerable and reaching key workers between their shifts – the existing delivery system could be able to double deliveries and perhaps even more.

Yes, there will be a shortage of staff that needs to be filled. But there will also be many people willing to step into help where possible to do so. I for one would be happy to do a few shifts from a local store or even drive an artic from a nearby distribution centre to the supermarket back door if I can find a doctor to sign off the medical for my Heavy Goods Class 1 renewal once more.

In difficult and challenging times, business as well as politicians have to consider whats fair and best for EVERYONE. Not just those who pay, complain or can influence more.

But we ALL have an investment in the government, the public sector and the businesses working to keep us alive getting this right.

They cannot do it alone and need our support to get there – even if that means opening the door to an online supermarket delivery person at what feels like a very peculiar time.

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