The Coronavirus has affected many industries ranging from tourism, aviation, banking and finance to supply chain and logistics, etc. The ensuing impact on the industries will be of varying degrees. However, one of the crucial segments that the virus has hit hard is the last-mile delivery segment. Before the pandemic, ordering on Amazon and Flipkart was favoured by citizens across the country because of the sense of security that prevailed and the ability to rely on our trusted brands. Ordering goods was just one click away. But since the outbreak, things have been very different. China, the largest manufacturing country, stopped their manufacturing. As a result, demand for goods fell and supply of goods across countries became a tough challenge. Citizens ordering goods online had to face problems like increase in delivery time, extra delivery cost and most importantly, safety concerns due to exposure. So the question arises, where does the last mile delivery stand in this pandemic?
Many articles published on the internet state that there will be a rise in last-mile delivery as people around the world would look at it as an opportunity to not go to the grocery store or public areas where the risk of getting the virus is on the higher side. Focusing on this concept, most of the companies have started with “contact-less” delivery and marketing this technique to consumers in order to gain trust on their last mile delivery.
COVID-19 has definitely affected the psychological thinking of many people where they see ordering food or goods online as an invitation to being afflicted by coronavirus, a concern that no precautionary measure from any company can change. There are questions and criticism regarding contact-less delivery as a failure of execution could harm many at a time.
So, what long term challenges will the last-mile delivery face? Will there be a rise or fall in the last mile delivery, given that people will prefer health security as their first priority?
I conducted a sample survey with a sample size of about 100 people in the age group of 20 to 50 years. I present to you the findings of my survey:
Going online or offline?
As predicted by industry experts, among the people in the city with different age groups, 72% people prefer buying goods online while the rest 28% people choose to buy offline. Hence companies like Big Basket, Amazon, Swiggy are hiring scores of employees during this pandemic to match the demand of home delivery.
The lingering fear of the unknown:
What is the psychological impact of having an unknown delivery person come to your door, where we have no knowledge of the travel history of the delivery person, whether the product is disinfected and most importantly, if that person is virus- free?
As results would show, around 56.1% people have a psychological fear of ordering goods online or to meet unknown delivery persons while only 6.1% people are not afraid of meeting an unknown distributor. However, the remaining 37.9% are people who do not feel strongly or are unsure about the same.
Data driving deliveries:
What can logistics firms implement so that customer trust can be gathered? During the survey, the subjects were asked a pertinent question which was – Would you like to have the data of previous deliveries done by the particular delivery person before coming to your doorstep?
The results were astounding. Even though companies are offering contact-less delivery and other precautionary methods, most of the people would really like to know from where the delivery man is coming from, before reaching to their doorstep: whether he is coming from an area where covid cases are more, or if he is coming from a green zone area; which would release some psychological tension of theirs. Out of 70 responses, 56 would like to know the location of previous deliveries, while the rest 14 wouldn’t favour this idea.
From Data 1 and Data 3, we can derive that people who would like to order online during Covid19 are keen on knowing the previous delivery location of that particular person before delivering goods to them. This idea could be implemented by most of the last mile delivery personnel in order to gain consumer trust.
Will waves of change take over the shopping experience?
This survey was taken when people were in the three severe months of the nationwide lockdown. People miss shopping outside in physical market where they can sense the goods before buying it. But surprisingly it was found that- more than 45% of people will still favour ordering goods online where they have least movement and trust their brands. So according to the study, everything would be back to normal where people would prefer the original choices and there shouldn’t be any massive change in shopping and last mile delivery due to the pandemic.
Is contactless delivery really helping the company?
Contactless delivery has been adopted by many food delivering companies and goods delivering companies where there is least contact by the delivery personnel in the process. But to what extent is this true? Companies are spending thousands of money in advertising this concept to gain customer trust and be stable in the market during this recession period. But it’s been more than 2 months, people are not sure whether to order food or goods with help of contact-less delivery.
According to data collected from the study, people are afraid to try out and order goods even though companies have adopted this method of delivering goods.
56.1% people haven’t trusted contactless delivery or haven’t tried to use the contactless delivery and on other side 39.4% are influenced with the contactless delivery.
Implementing the idea of letting customers know the previous data of distributor and implementing contactless delivery would have a more positive impact on company strategy.
Now, the main question: Will there be a rise or fall in last mile delivery?
According to the data, last mile delivery will rise during COVID-19 as people will prefer staying indoors and have more sense of safety. But when markets open, lockdown is no longer a barrier, some of them would prefer physical market shopping and hence we can see a drop in last-mile delivery after Covid-19.
Customer satisfaction plays a major role in this dynamic world and the companies should focus more upon delivering that with cost-efficiency.