Ecommerce delivery: the hare and the tortoise

Ecommerce delivery: the hare and the tortoise

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Last week, I was driving through the centre of London when I saw a young guy on a scooter, seemingly risking life and limb to dart through traffic as quick as humanly (and scooterly) possible. Was he late for his wedding? Was he rushing vital organs across town for life saving surgery or was he just delivering London’s fastest pizza?

None of the above. He was an ‘Amazon Prime Now’ delivery driver, the Amazon service which promises 1 hour delivery in London.

Yes… 1 hour delivery. From clicking ‘buy’ to your door…… in one hour. It’s nothing particularly new nowadays, but it’s still pretty quick. Not as quick as their 13 minute drone delivery, but that’s another story.

It got me to thinking about how delivery expectations have developed and evolved in recent times. A few years back, when ordering online, you would happily expect to wait however long it took to come through. In fact half the fun was when that parcel eventually arrived.

As a species, however, our expectancies and minimum requirements have changed somewhat, largely due to the digital era. No longer do we all get in the car, find a parking space, pop into blockbuster and make the difficult decision of renting just 1 video to suit the whole family. No, we stream anything we want, instantly. Often, each member of the family is streaming something unique to them on their own device. Our weekly shop is delivered within a time slot, taxis can turn up at the touch of a button and be totally cashless, and we can pay for goods and services by just touching our wallets or phones on a scanner. As a modern business, if you’re not streamlined, you might be in trouble.

Firstly though, let’s have a look at the numbers. For Prime Now eligibility, you need to be an Amazon Prime member, which is often on special offer for around £59 per year but is normally £79. This does give you access to a host of on-demand movies and TV shows, over 500,000 additional free kindle books, unlimited photo storage and one-day delivery as standard. For a one-hour delivery, and if your order is over £20, it will be an additional £6.99. For no extra cost, you can choose a 2 hour time slot on the same day, if that’s easier for you.

So is that worth it for the consumer? Well, probably, because as mentioned we all want things instantly. In London, for example, you could walk to the shops, find the right one, find the right item and then buy it for an inflated cost due to ludicrously inflated rental costs. Or, you could check amazon, buy it cheaper (probably even with the cost of Prime Now included) and get it delivered to your house in 1 hour. Prime Now isn’t new, it’s been successful in many US cities so far, and worldwide membership of Prime grew 53% as a result.

But is there a downside? Well, yes. I found some articles from current and previous Amazon drivers who were not happy people. Here’s an anonymous quote:

“As a former amazon driver,I would not wish that job on my worst enemy,when you arrive at work you have to sort your own parcels load the van yourself when you can get somewhere to park in. The yard,then deliver your 180-230 parcels, not always possible to keep to time,as most people are not always home and next door don’t want the hassle of taking in someone else’s parcels.don’t do the job it’s not worth the headache…”

That person is talking about the stress of a regular Amazon delivery, let alone trying to get a parcel picked, packed, label printed and then across a busy city in less than 1 hour. I’m not sure what Amazon delivery drivers get paid in the UK, let alone the Prime Now drivers, but I’ve read reports of US based Prime Now drivers relying on tips, something we don’t really do in this country. Someone else had replied to those comments saying that it puts our expectations for delivery into a bit of perspective.

Delivery expectations for smaller eccommerce stores

So, where does this leave the average SME? Let’s face it, smaller businesses just can’t match Amazon’s abilities to deliver that fast, at whatever the cost it is. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make delivery as seamless as possible for your customers. Here’s a few top delivery tips for ecommerce SMEs to succeed:

  • Get it right. Don’t allow any room for returns because a product is wrong.
  • Make it safe. The frustration of opening a parcel to find a broken product is beyond belief; if the good are fragile, make sure they are packaged well.
  • Make it quick. Okay, so 1 hour deliveries aren’t an option, but making sure parcels go out as quickly as possible will help.
  • Give options. A good parcel management service, like GFS, will allow you to offer a choice of delivery days, time slots, click and collect and more.
  • Stand out from the crowd. I always like to get a parcel from ‘’ because it’s well packaged, secure and there’s always a small packet of sweets in the box – it’s these little touches that can turn a one off purchase into a regular customer.
  • Don’t forget marketing. Those leaflets you always get in your amazon boxes? There’s a reason they’re there: because they work. Offline re-marketing will help to encourage repeat business.
  • Use Reviews. In an Econsultancy survey, 48% of respondents said that trustmarks would help convince them to order.
  • Clearly display costs upfront. No one likes surprises in the cart. The Econsultancy survey mentions says that 74% of consumers said they would abandon cart if a high delivery charge popped up in the cart.
  • Give price breaks. If one product is £30, offering free or discounted delivery from £55 will encourage up-selling.
  • Consider Free Delivery. It might mean adjusting your base product price, but ‘free delivery’ is a huge psychological ‘win’.

So all in all, Amazon Prime Now is huge news. It has and will continue to revolutionise and change the way we see delivery in this country. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you to decide. As a consumer, I think it’s awesome. As a human, I feel pretty bad for the guys doing that job. As someone who helps small businesses to sell more and succeed, it worries me that some might not take this as seriously as they perhaps should. For now, granted, Amazon Prime Now is only available on a certain amount of products and only in certain London postcodes, but this is where it starts.

For more help and delivery advice, chat with the Sellerdeck team.

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