Perhaps we in the Business Intelligence sphere need to give a new meaning to the term ‘delivery manager’.
I’m always on the lookout for real world application of BI principles – partly because I find it’s the best way to know what skills are going to be in short supply in the very near future, and partly because it helps me answer the question ‘but what do you actually do?’ when I’m standing around with a glass of Scotch in my hand.
I usually give the best definition of Business Intelligence that I can remember, 'The tools and practices used to access and analyse information which improves business decisions and performance'.
The move towards same-day delivery is a great example – or at least, it will be, if BI is harnessed properly as I’d expect it to be by these major firms. You’ve probably read about same-day food deliveries recently, and the challenges this market shift is presenting both to firms and to societies.
This BBC article gives a good account of the ‘real world impact’ of same-day delivery (and customer experience therein), but it’s also important to remember we’re in the infancy of this type of shopping, and associated technology.
Moving to online shopping in general was a difficult challenge for many retailers when they first started rolling out online options, both in the supermarket and wider retail sectors. As I see it, the move to same day delivery is just the next natural evolution in this market, and utilising Business Intelligence is the best way to maximise benefits and minimise costs to consumers, corporations, and communities alike.
Presently, there’s a large cost associated with same day delivery – additional fuel miles covered by the delivery van, additional packaging for fresh produce, and so on. But compare that to the additional packaging used in a ready meal (far less healthy and more burdensome on health services) or in a take-away (often non-recyclable, and with health impacts) which are the present ‘last minute convenience’ alternatives, and the social benefits of same-day delivery far outweigh the negatives. The benefits will only be magnified as fuel efficiency (and the move to renewables) progresses, and the tendency in any competitive market place has always been to bring costs down.
Algorithms and user-data-driven-decision-making already allow for targeted advertising, why not use this to ‘nudge’ shoppers in to spreading deliveries across the week – this has to be a more efficient society than one where everybody drives in their cars to the supermarket on Saturday morning and the stores are comparatively empty the rest of the week.
Indeed, I’d predict a future where shoppers get their staples delivered automatically each week but got sent a text by retailers if there were free slots last minute which could be utilised in exchange for a discount on delivery and freeing up time at peak hours. Retailers already cater to seasonal demand (no shortage of pumpkins at Halloween…) and the future of shopping is just the same concept on a far more detailed scale (being ready to deliver fish and vegetable dishes when consumers have ‘meat-free-Mondays’, for example).
The BBC article I’ve linked to below rightly points out that the online grocery market is only going to get bigger – and I’d like to add that it will only get better, too…
My order had been quite specific in that it had items for the freezer, fridge and cupboard, which retailers need to keep separate and wrapped up to meet food safety standards. As same-day shopping becomes more of a norm, there is potentially a trade-off between convenience and the environment, says Mr Mulcahy. "Packaging, pollution, congestion - it all needs to be sorted out somehow. Consumer expectations are building and something's got to give," he says. UK shoppers spent £8.6bn on online groceries last year, up from £8.1bn the year before, according to Kantar Worldpanel - and retailers are convinced it will only get bigger. But what's less clear is if the costs of same-day deliveries will end up eating further into supermarkets' profits along with our disposable incomes. Not to mention the cost to the world around us.