Updated: Jun 14
Saving on delivery time for your groceries hurts the planet and local businesses.
A trending feature of today’s economy is The boom of e-commerce, and consumer systems online, especially after the constraints of the pandemic. Delivery services, too, have now got an in because consumers choose the convenience ordering gives them- Now fast-tracking that delivery is the icing on top!
Free, fast, fresh…no this is not the tagline for the new fast and the furious movie, but they are all the appealing selling points of a quick delivery, that is fulfilled by the last-mile delivery process. Last-mile delivery refers to improved efficiency through the end stage of the delivery when a package is moved from a transportation hub to its final destination, which usually is a personal residence or retail store. Despite the benefits of delivery services, specifically concepts like same-day or speedy delivery, there also are several challenges it poses to external entities.
Many delivery services, for example, BlinkIt, Swiggy Genie, Zomato Insta, Zepto and many more, advertise the fast delivery of products and offer an online mode of ordering and purchasing. One of the biggest implications is how consumers are moving away from in-store purchasing or buying directly from the source. Fewer interactions don’t allow for an understanding of the business, its owners and its ethics which in turn doesn’t build consumer loyalty.“By limiting a consumer’s contact with the restaurant, the consequences of those app taps are effectively out of sight and out of mind.” The aspect of the ‘middle-man’ quality that delivery services possess, fosters a culture of unawareness about businesses and who and what is behind them which can even lead to consumers continuing to associate with companies that partake in unethical practices.
High delivery charges, packaging costs and increased commission rates, that the service providers charge, may not be affordable to small businesses. Similarly, businesses in remote areas or those that cannot access the online format that is increasingly common for delivery services and solely rely on in-store purchases may not opt for delivery services as well. Several delivery services may prioritise and advertise businesses that they associate with solely or have monetary ties. The dominance of these delivery services and increasing consumer base can displace businesses that are not registered on their list and will deny them an equal opportunity for growth as compared to their counterparts.
(Also Read: Is Your Business Inefficient or Just Unsustainable?)
Lack of in-person transactions slowed business for establishments that do not offer delivery and higher expenses for businesses that avail delivery services, which may result in cost-cutting measures. Some of them include reducing their product range and operation and reducing overhead. Some businesses may close their walk-up stores and resort to solely production, and other businesses may need to close their stores altogether. This leads to gentrification and the loss of the ‘charm’ and heritage that local businesses provide to an area. There are also several logistical issues with last-mile delivery techniques like ineffective routing, delayed arrivals, packaging malfunctions, etc that consumers could attribute to, not only the service provider but the brand of the businesses. This could tarnish their reputation and consumer perception.
(Also Read: How Urban Green Spaces Can Lead To Gentrification)
The booming use of delivery services has definitely extended consumers’ purchasing abilities, for example, next-day deliveries of essential goods like medicines. However, in-person purchases have their importance when it comes to aspects like the creation of jobs, regulations by the local community and the allure they add to a place. It is important to strike a balance between access to a service because of a need and the want for unnecessary convenience- The package that comes to your doorstep isn’t the most charming guest!
Deepti Sharma(January, 2021), The True Cost of Convenience, Eater
Onfleet, Inc.(May, 2021), Last Mile Delivery: What it is, Trends and Tips for Success in 2021, Onfleet