Convenience, climate and competition: the evolution of e-commerce delivery

convenience climate and competition

Ever since people started shopping online, there has been a steady but significant shift in how purchases are delivered.

At first, e-commerce seemed such a novel change to the high street that consumers were content to simply receive whatever they had bought whenever it turned up.

However, retailers and their logistics partners soon became aware of the importance of the customer experience in delivering – if you pardon the pun – repeat business.

That realisation has led to a succession of innovative developments, aimed at providing shoppers with speedy shipments which are fully trackable and can be diverted to a preferred alternative destination even as they’re en route.

In other words and regardless of the individual mode of delivery, the absolute premium has been on convenience.

That has been one of the main reasons for the success of the award-winning drop2shop network of pick-up and drop-off (PUDO) points utilising some of Ireland’s best known convenience stores.

Yet the evolution of e-commerce deliveries continues, in part due to growing concerns about possible conflict between measures designed to reduce the environmental impact of vehicle and the desire to maximise the prospect for shoppers to receive purchases at the first time of asking.

The challenge has been highlighted by recent studies of the UK market showing not only the intensity of competition but the degree to which alternatives to home delivery are increasingly being favoured – View the data (PDF).

In Ireland, the situation is slightly different but the consumer preference for Out Of Home (OOH) delivery options is just as strong.

As one major piece of research published last year by Last Mile Experts illustrated, Ireland ranks second of all European countries for growth in e-commerce business since 2019.

Yet outside of the major cities, the country doesn’t have the same kind of concentration of population as other states.

The issue, therefore, is how best to service that rise in online shopping in a manner which is efficient and convenient but doesn’t add to the carbon footprint generated by the parcel industry.

According to the authors of the European report, the answer lies in the PUDO system, not least because parcel lockers, although also effective, don’t have the same presence or density.

“Capacity demands”, they wrote, make OOH “the only viable or cost-effective option”.

It is why drop2shop has invested heavily in expanding its network across Ireland, growing the number of participating stores each and every week.

As the European delivery infrastructure report noted, increasing the available pick-up or drop-off points for both collecting and returning items – especially those which are close to consumers’ homes – makes OOH almost as convenient as home delivery.

drop2shop is available in more than 600 convenience stores and forecourts across Ireland and, in the last year, has been offered in-store by major high street chains too.

Retailers in Ireland and the UK have realised its potential for solving the delivery conundrum, offering speed, security and certainty.

Given that drop2shop parcels are also taken to and from participating premises on the same vehicles which bring store stock, it also needs no additional fleet and avoids many millions of extra miles on the road and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

Together, they were among the factors which contributed to drop2shop being singled out as the top Irish OOH provider by Last Mile Experts.

As the country’s biggest PUDO network in terms of convenience stores, drop2shop’s roster of client brands is growing because they appreciate that we know the Irish market better than anyone else and are able to cover every eventuality efficiently.