Thursday, July 25, 2013

Growth of big-ticket ecommerce leads to enhancements within white-glove delivery services

Last week’s announcement of XPO Logistics’ acquisition of specialized white-glove delivery company, 3PD, has sparked interest about the white-glove delivery space. What sets this service apart from the traditional delivery? This type of service can vary from one service provider to the next, but basic services usually include unpacking, set-up and removal of packaging and/or old merchandise.

White-glove services are particularly useful for big-ticket items such as washer & dryers, televisions, furniture and mattresses. As e-commerce permeates the retail industry, the growth of online sales of such items is increasing. For example, according to eMarketer, online sales of furniture and home furnishings are expected to increase 14% this year to $20.2bn and will grow at almost 15% CAGR between 2012 and 2017. As such, retailers are looking for ways to add value and this includes the delivery and set-up process.

While service providers such as CEVA, Pilot and 3PD all provide track and trace capabilities as well as good customer service, SEKO Logistics appears to be taking this a step further and is planning to launch a proof of delivery (POD) app within the next few weeks. The app will be compatible with both Apple and Android smartphones. According to SEKO Logistics’ CIO, Tom Madzy, the app manages the driver’s activities including the ability to download deliveries, capture barcodes via the phone’s camera, signature capture and more. A simple but probably one of the most effective parts of the app is its use of color-coding which allows the driver to quickly scan for items that need to be addressed first such as customer special instructions.

The smartphone app will capture geo positioning, date and time of signature or delivery all on a Google map as well as to initiate a damage claim on the spot. All of this information is fed into the company’s “My SEKO Portal” accessible to customers in real time. At the end of each delivery, a three question survey is offered to the customer. The results are also fed back into the company’s portal.

According to William J. Wascher, CEO, SEKO Logistics “This driver APP will give us the ability to not only catch up to the likes of FedEx and UPS when it comes to real time status updates, but in some cases exceed their capabilities.”

Indeed, the growth and adoption of such apps is on the rise and will continue. According to an uShip survey in late 2012, 7 out of 10 truck drivers are conducting more business via mobile devices than they did in 2011 and 43% are using apps, an increase of 16% over 2011.

As ecommerce sales rise, retailers and logistics providers will need to differentiate themselves from the rest of the crowd. Investments in technology are on the rise and as evident in SEKO Logistics’ latest service offering, its POD app, will likely prove successful in an environment of real-time transparency.