Whether you dismiss it as generational impatience on a colossal scale, an inability to think for themselves and plan in advance, or see it as the natural consequence of a cohort that has grown up among rapidly-developing tech, Millennials stand poised to shake-up the way the delivery industry operates.
Just in case you’re in the dark, and there’s no shame if you are, Millennials is the term used to describe the current, emerging, generation. Typically they were born between the early 80s and the early 2000s. They’re also known as Generation Y, and came hot on the heels of Generation X which – and only if you’re old enough – might make you think of Billy Idol.
The idea that the Millennials will have a profound effect on the workplace is nothing new. There are countless articles to be found warning businesses that they’d better change their ways or they’ll never get Millennials to go and work for them. Millennials, we are told, have a different set of values and expectations and will therefore gravitate to those employers that mirror their beliefs. That’s not exactly rocket science, either.
There will also be implications – no wait, there already are implications – for the etail delivery sector. Some of which have been borne out in recent months by research from a variety of sources.
According to MetaPack, 55% of Millennials want free delivery, and 33% stress the importance of speed where delivery is concerned. A staggering 82% said they ‘intend’ to use a same-day delivery service at some point in the next 12 months.
But is the desire for free delivery little more than the expression of a harsh economic reality – most young people, whether in work, studying, or especially if they’re out of work, don’t have as much disposable income as older sections of society.
Will free delivery matter less to them as and when their income levels rise? After all, if 82% really do intend to use a same-day service, while that certainly bears out the assertion that speed matters, there are few free same-day deliveries available.
Contrasting data came from ecommerce company Ampersand, which commissioned YouGov to research the same topic. There were some differences, which can be attributed to panel size and composition, but some broad themes remained. Ampersand found that 21% of people are interested in same-day delivery but that among Millennials that jumped to 30%.
But there is a flip-side to that impatience. Four out of five Millennials bought some of their 2014 Christmas shopping in-store, according to media agency OMD. As with anything even remotely to do with people, the reasons are not black-and-white but many subtle grey hues instead. Partly there is a desire to treat Christmas shopping as a social activity – either with friends or maybe as the continuation of a family tradition. But partly too, it is because of that desire for immediate acquisition.
The potential use of new breakthrough delivery techniques – such as drones – is another area that researchers seem to find broadly similar results on … younger people are more open to their potential use than the rest of us.
What could all of this tell you? That the next generational wave – currently aged 18-24 and who will be the mainstay of everyone’s customer base for the next 50 or so years – will expect free, same-day delivery, via drone, except at Christmas when they will shop in-store in packs..? No, probably not.
Trying to cover all the superficial points raised by research with your delivery and logistics operation simply isn’t viable. The race to provide free same-day drone delivery is not about to start anytime soon. Getting the basics right is still the first-order principle the industry needs to concern itself with. Realistic levels of choice that reflect value and services that give a sense of that value are more likely to create a bond with a customer based on reliability and loyalty.
But there are distinct clues as to how to structure things going forward. Like in the case of the Danish cycling etailer Cykelpartner, which has seen a 25% increase in conversion rates as a result of making a change to its carrier mix and, therefore, to the delivery service it offers. By finding a partner, Post Danmark in this case, that would collect shipments on a Sunday, it has eradicated one of the lags in the sale-to-shipment cycle. It’s a small thing, but it has had a significant effect.
Everyone talks about flexibility. Everyone wants to appeal to new customers. Everyone wants to stand out. Not everyone has the commitment to shake things up a little and find new solutions to old problems.
Imagine though that you’ve been that brave and then along comes a huge peak in sales and your delivery chain breaks. Some of our readers have shared their views on one carrier that is trying to pre-empt that eventuality – Yodel. Love them, or love-them-a-bit-less, you can’t ignore them. And sticking your neck out while trying to stop things from breaking – even if there might be better ways of going about it, who knows – is something that ought to be welcomed.
It’s got to be better than carrying on regardless and risking breaking your promises. Because if there’s one thing all the anthropologists seem to agree on where Millennials are concerned it’s that they will judge you on your value system and your capacity for keeping your word.
Drop us a line if you have thoughts on the extent to which Millennials could, or should, shape the development of future delivery services.
Elsewhere within the eDelivery world, preparations continue for our first ever eDelivery Conference, which takes place on 13 October. We recently announced five new speakers and over the course of the next few weeks and months we’ll publishing interviews with some of them, to give you a taste of what to expect.
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