Why do delivery companies suck at their core business?

Today I was working from home, waiting for my new bike to be delivered. And I was given plenty of time to consider just how rubbish delivery companies are.
In my experience they’re all pretty much the same. Not a single on can reliably tell you when you can expect your package.

Sure you can pay for a premium ‘before 9am’ type service. But I’m not talking about needing my package earlier. I just want to *know* within a sensible window when to expect delivery.

As it stands I was told today. And that meant working from home (I’m lucky that’s an option) and waiting….and waiting…

until they come, you are ‘trapped’ in the house, you can’t run any other errands or get anything done outside the house in case they turn up in the window that you are out.

Now I realise it is hard to predict exactly when they will be able to deliver. But surely it is not beyond the wit of man to provide live update of information that would allow you to plan around a bit more.

For me, given 25 minutes notice I could get home from work. that would make a big difference to me. So I don’t need to know exactly when, but ‘not in the next 25 minutes, vs in the next 25 minutes would make a big difference.

I was using this companies on-line tracking, and it ‘knew’ that my package was out for deliver at 9.17. So presumably items get tagged when they go on the truck. Now I’m assuming that the order of delivery is calculated by a computer, to attempt some optimal path. And that being the case I could be told how far down the delivery schedule for that van I am. Based on historical information they might even be able to estimate better what that will mean for my delivery time. If they kept live track of each time a delivery was made, they could further update my position in the delivery sequence, and revise estimates as they go.

Would it be so hard?

Of course, even if somewhere there is a delivery firm that cared enough about it’s customers to provide such informaiton, I’d still be stuck with the fact that very few people you buy from really give you the choice of which provider they use for delivery. It seems odd, since the delivery cost is passed on to me, that I can’t chose from which ever courier I believe offers the best options.

Every time I get something delivered, I am reminded that the world seems to presume that it is no bother to have someone that can wait in, all day, just to take delivery.

A similar problem is going to effect me on Thursday, where I will be waiting for someone to come and inspect my boiler. The very best they could do was offer me a 4 hour window in the middle of the day. That’s hopeless, surely an engineer could easily call contact details to give a 30 minute warning. Just that simple step would make the whole thing considerably more convenient.

I suspect that my tolerance for such things is low, given I’m getting so used to services which work for me, when I want them, how I want them. with things like RSS feeds that deliver news to me, BBC iPlayer that lets me stream tv on demand, Amazon MP3 providing me instance download of purchased music. Hell, even wordpress, which gives me live up to the minute stats on blog usage. I hate feeling in the dark, knowing that the information would be so easy to make available, it’s just that these companies seem not to care about the customer experience in what is their core business.

2 responses to “Why do delivery companies suck at their core business?”

  1. I’ve always assumed this stuff came from courier companies’ *original* core business – moving stuff from one business to another. Before the advent of Internet shopping, I would suggest that most private individuals rarely interacted with courier services. In most cases, you’d be buying from bricks and mortar shops and bringing things home yourself. Even if they had to order-in an unusual item, you’d still go to the shop to collect it. So courier companies set up their operations in a way that made sense for businesses – which *do* employ someone to “wait in” all day.
    They haven’t done a very good job of adjusting to private deliveries, probably because of the lack of choice from the recipient end that you identify. The Home Delivery Network does try very hard not to take parcels back to the depot, though not all of their solutions (leaving parcels in bushes or with arbitrarily dodgy neighbours) fill me with confidence.

    Your “25 minutes notice” reminds me of the Army’s concept of “no move before”, which is how start times for things get put out when the actual time is uncertain. “No move before 1500” means “we don’t know exactly when we’ll be going, but you have at least until 1500 to get things done beforehand”. For deliveries, that would be better than nothing.

  2. Omg I feel your pain. I’m sat at home wating for new bikes for me and the mrs to arrive and although the delivery is supposed to be today the website has just informed me it’s in their depot not with the courier, no explanation. So looks like I used a valuable working from home day for no reason whatsoever. Rediculous.

    Apparently it’s fine as they’ll leave it with a neighbour. NO! My neighbour doesnt want to store two new bikes in their house until I get home from work, if they’re even in.

    All I need to know is roughly what time they’ll be here, or even, as you say, 30 mins notice.

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