3 ways crowdsourcing deliveries can help retailers win the last mile

It’s no secret that retailers are competing on delivery timing to win customers. Two-day delivery has become the new target for many, and 42% of retail leaders are shooting for same-day delivery in 2022, according to research from McKinsey & Company. But as the consulting firm points out, traditional last-mile fulfillment networks don’t have the capacity to keep up with surging e-commerce demand.

That has some retailers looking to another last-mile fulfillment resource: crowdsourced delivery. By tapping into an independent network of drivers nationwide, retailers can add capacity when and where they need it — without having to maintain their own fleets or be tied to the schedules of traditional carriers.

Here’s how retailers are using crowdsourced delivery to keep customer satisfaction high and orders moving out the door:

Increase customer choice

The growth of e-commerce means customers can easily search numerous retailers to find the exact product they want. And, they can also shop around the delivery timing they prefer.

Not every customer will want same-day delivery. But for the DIY customer who has one weekend to finish the guest bathroom before the in-laws visit (and who already made one run to the hardware store), it can be a game-changer.

To that end, The Home Depot started working with crowdsourced delivery platform Roadie in 2018 to enable same-day deliveries from some of its stores. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, demand for home delivery (and home-improvement products) spiked, and the retailer quickly expanded the option to several hundred more stores. Today, The Home Depot works with Roadie to offer customers same-day delivery from more than 1,700 locations nationwide.

Giving customers more choice in how quickly they receive their order can help convert more online sales and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. Research backs that up: For nearly three-quarters of shoppers, having a delivery arrive at a convenient time was more important than arriving quickly, Capgemini found.

Reach beyond metro areas

Conventional carriers and delivery markets typically have robust networks in and between major metropolitan areas. But for retailers that want to extend fast delivery to customers in smaller markets and rural areas, standard delivery routes aren’t typically an option. But crowdsourcing is.

Tractor Supply Company was the first major general-merchandise retailer in the US to offer same-day delivery from 100% of its stores nationwide. From workwear to chicken coops, the rural lifestyle company works with Roadie to crowdsource deliveries of nearly 15,000 SKUs (stock keeping units), regardless of size or delivery location.

With crowdsourcing, every pickup truck rolling through the countryside is a potential delivery vehicle, and every rural driver has an opportunity to make a few extra dollars on the way back from town. John Ordus, executive vice president and chief stores officer at Tractor Supply, says crowdsourcing has helped the company toward its goal of being “the most dependable supplier of basic maintenance products for farm, ranch and rural customers.”

Keep orders moving

Another advantage that crowdsourcing offers retailers is the flexibility to fill orders whenever they come in. That could mean scaling up during unexpected or seasonal volume increases. On-demand fulfillment can also help get VIP or rush orders on the road when delivery vehicles are already out on routes, or between parcel carriers’ daily sweeps. Some retailers rely almost entirely on crowdsourcing for last-mile fulfillment.

Yancey Bros. Co. provides parts and services for heavy machinery across Georgia. When important equipment breaks, Yancey Bros.’ Customers can start losing money quickly, so the company has technicians and warehouses spread across the state. After years of handling their own deliveries, Yancey Bros. found that crowdsourcing was the best way to get parts quickly to technicians in the field and keep their warehouse staff off the roads and focused on the jobs they were trained to do.

Yancey Bros. now uses Roadie’s crowdsourcing platform exclusively for deliveries anywhere in the state. “Roadie allows us to stay more efficient and better staffed in our warehouses to get more done in the working day,” said Corey Fehribach, manager of operational excellence at Yancey Bros. “It’s a more sustainable solution, and we’ve been able to improve our customer service.”

Whether they are local or regional businesses like Yancey Bros., or ntional chains like The Home Depot and Tractor Supply Company, more retailers are tapping into crowdsourced deliveries to fill gaps in their fulfillment strategies.

Ready to learn more about how crowdsourcing can work for your company? Check out our playbook To see how retailers can use the service to meet challenges in the last mile, or visit Roadie.com.

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