Exceeding Delivery Expectations, Pt. 1

Posted by Guru Rao
Now there is nothing mortal which accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers, so skillfully has this been invented by the Persians: for they say that according to the number of days of which the entire journey consists, so many horses and men are set at intervals, each man and horse appointed for a day’s journey. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness of night prevents from accomplishing each one the task proposed to him, with the very utmost speed.

 Herodotus, circa 440 BC

This quote describes the mounted carriers of the time delivering royal messages using the Royal road of roughly 1700 miles, built by Darius I of ancient Persia. In our modern age, of course, we’re obsessed with the idea of fast delivery. While we still need skilled couriers to roam the countryside, so to speak, the entire process no longer needs a grand king’s vision to implement it. It can now be done by the common man equipped with nothing more than just a smart device.

In his book The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg talks about keystone habits. These are habits that have the power to transform the life of a person, a company and even cultures. In the modern enterprise delivery environment, the Amazon Effect is a phrase and concept that has the same sort of transformative power. Amazon started as a book reseller, then expanded to be known for low prices and the high convenience of online shopping. Today, however, Amazon is largely known for its speed and quality of delivery. They’ve proven that customers are even willing to spend a little bit extra on individual products for speed and convenience via their Prime service.

Now, the competition is trying to play catchup. While the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, dropped Walmart from his portfolio, Walmart is going full throttle by offering free 2-day shipping. Macys, while closing a number of stores, is increasing its omnichannel retailing and increasing same day delivery service. There simply isn’t a retail giant not directly reacting to or at least keeping a watchful eye on Amazon’s disruptive presence.

From Amazon’s perspective, however, they don’t discriminate between their competition. For Amazon, competition is not just Walmart, Macys and other large retailers.

It is nothing less than “the old way” of doing things.

In this world, a slightly modified version of Darwinian Theory rules: The Survival of the Fastest. And at the forefront of this is Delivery. When you choose to bring your delivery capabilities to the industry standards laid out by these giants, you are not merely improving your delivery. You are compelled to review all of your supply chain processes in order to exceed those newfangled delivery expectations of your customers spoiled by the speed of Amazon.

So, the question is: How do you get there? We’ll take a closer look at how these challenges relate to your organization in the second and final part of this post.