The Small Retailer’s Survival Guide: Part 6 – Home Delivery Benefits and Pitfalls



The benefits of home delivery
Home delivery can increase impulse buys. If a customer is on their way home from work, they’re more likely to stop off at your store if they know that you can deliver a product right to their door within an hour of placing the order. It gives customers the opportunity to try out new products that they might not have had the time or desire to visit the store for otherwise. And, best of all, there are almost no overhead costs for home delivery, so you don’t have to worry about pricey vehicle maintenance or hiring additional employees. For example, the average cost of operating a delivery truck in the United States is $8,500 per year—and that doesn’t include gas! That means you could spend $1,000 in gas alone just to get one truck up and running each year. But with home delivery services like Amazon Prime Now or Walmart Grocery Pickup, those costs are virtually non-existent.

What happens when things go wrong?
If you’re a small retailer, then you already know that there are plenty of things that can go wrong with your business. What you may not know is how to minimize the impact of those things when they do happen. One way is through the option of home delivery—which has both benefits and pitfalls for small retailers. Be sure to weigh all factors when deciding whether it’s right for your business. Most importantly, if something does go wrong, be prepared to act quickly on it! You can’t make every scenario work out perfectly in the long run, but what you can do is learn from mistakes, respond swiftly and keep working toward a successful future. Review the Consumer Packaging Waste Reduction Act: In 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was amended by the passage of the Consumer Product Packaging Protection Act (CPSIA). The purpose of CPSIA was to reduce or eliminate lead and phthalates in consumer products, particularly children’s toys. But many other substances were added to the list as well. These include Bisphenol A (BPA), cadmium, mercury, antimony trioxide and others. Even though CPSIA required manufacturers to meet these new standards by February 10th 2010, most companies have yet to comply. That means your store is still inundated with products containing dangerous chemicals – and so are your customers!

Customer service
Retail home delivery can be a great way to make your customers happy by providing them with what they want, when they want it. But without careful planning and management, home delivery can also be expensive, frustrating for your employees and dangerous for your customers. When deciding whether to offer home delivery as part of your retail service offering, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against the potential pitfalls. Here are six questions you should ask yourself before offering a home-delivery service. 1. What is the purpose of my business? 2. Who am I trying to reach? 3. How do I plan on reaching them? 4. How will I manage the costs associated with home delivery? 5. How will I ensure the safety of my employees and customers? 6. Will my business model support home delivery in the long term?

Reviewing home delivery services
The fifth step in your Small Retailer’s Survival Guide is about reviewing home delivery services. Start by using the following checklist to figure out which delivery services fit into your business plan. But keep in mind that no one service will be right for every retail business. After you’re done with the checklist, you should have a better idea of whether any given home delivery service would benefit or distract from your retail operation—and why. Then, it’s time to do some comparison shopping. You can’t compare what you don’t know, so find out as much as possible about each of the services on your list by speaking with people who already use the service, looking up their websites and reading through their brochures and catalogs, checking them out on Yelp!

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