Friday, April 27, 2018

Delivery Times and Amazon

I have noticed in recent years how Amazon Prime seems to be shaping people's expectations of delivery times.  As the number of Amazon Prime subscribers increases, people are beginning to think that free one or two-day shipping is "normal".  What they forget is that it takes the scale that comes from the largest company in the United States to be able to offer these shipping discounts.  Other companies cannot afford to offer free shipping.  In many cases, they would be negating their markup, or even wind up losing money to offer to absorb the shipping costs.

The one or two-day shipping also seems to be skewing people's perception of how long delivery for an item should take, and as a result, it is changing their planning process.  Even a few years ago, people would plan further ahead when ordering an item, knowing that it could take upwards of one to two weeks to receive it.  Now that people are beginning to see one and two-day shipping as "normal", they have stopped planning ahead for purchases like they used to.

This shift in delivery expectations creates some challenges when your product can measure five or six feet on a side, and weigh half a ton or more.  Our LTL (Less than Truck-Load) shipping tries their best to haul heavy freight as quickly as possible, but they just can't make the delivery times that people are starting to expect everywhere.  Is there a cheap and easy solution?  Do we start using air-freight to deal with customer's new expectations?

Perhaps the best lesson to learn is that Amazon has become a force unto itself.  We cannot all be Amazon, and we have to remember that when ordering from other companies, we need to remember that realistic shipping times -- and costs -- are part of the purchasing process.  We need to plan accordingly, and not be surprised by either factor -- time or cost.

I'm not the only one writing about this phenomenon.  If you're curious about this topic, I did a quick search for Amazon influencing shipping expectations, and found an interesting article on the subject: