The new Doorstep Economy is set to change the face of the retailing and service industries, as businesses move quickly in response to increasing consumer demand for more goods and services to be delivered to them, wherever they are, at speed and at their convenience.
Time-pressed Brits are no longer just ordering takeaways or goods to be delivered to their front door. New research from Barclaycard shows that some of the most popular services for order via an app to ‘arrive on demand’ at their doorstep are doctors (38%), handymen (29%), dentists (28%), cleaners (20%), animal sitters (18%) and fitness instructors (16%).
In addition, consumers who order goods or services online are expecting much more from providers in the way that their goods and services are delivered. Over a third (35%) choose a provider based on its delivery options and one in six consumers (17%) want to receive goods or services instantly after having ordered them. More than one in three of us (37%) would even be happy to receive our deliveries by robot in the name of convenience.
The research shows that entrepreneurial companies are transforming their ecommerce and service offerings to capitalise on the Doorstep Economy opportunity. The growth in online shopping means that a third of retailers (32%) think it is now more important to offer an online and delivery service than it is to have a physical store and one in six (17%) has even opted to become an online-only retailer in the last 12 months.
In addition, almost four in ten have launched a new website (39 per cent) or employed more delivery staff (37%) and a quarter (25%) have introduced a new ordering and payments app. Twenty three per cent of service providers have also increased employee wages as a result of requiring staff to work on irregular shift patterns and 22% have taken on more freelance workers.
A third of businesses (32%) also report that customers expect orders to be delivered, or appointments to be available (33%), more quickly than this time last year. In response, more than a quarter of service providers (26 per cent) have started to provide a broader range of appointments (e.g. at weekends, early morning and in the evening).
In the next 12 months, almost a quarter (23%) of companies also plan to widen their delivery services to new locations and more than three in 10 (31%) expect to offer more online promotions to incentivise purchases.
Yet the Barclaycard research suggests retailers need to move quickly to keep pace with consumer demand as 9% of businesses only introduced their delivery services in the last year, and the majority (58%) still do not offer an app as an option for their customers – despite 76% of UK adults now owning a smartphone.
Smaller businesses also show concern over their ability to match the capabilities of larger operators. Companies see the biggest threat to their businesses being from larger competitors who can afford more sophisticated payments technology (36%), especially as almost a quarter of companies (23%) believe that customers are cautious about the security of online payments.
Philip McHugh, chief executive officer, Barclaycard Business Solutions, said: “Today’s consumers are not only savvy in shopping for the best price but are also opting for providers who can deliver goods and services where and when they want them. Delivery services are going through a period of rapid innovation, from those who promise to provide almost anything to your door in under an hour, to those who are set to trial delivery by drone in the near future.
“Who would have thought there would be a gap in the market for handymen, personal trainers or cat-sitters, who are effectively ‘on-call’, and able turn up to practically any location within minutes of an order being made. The gauntlet for fast and flexible service has been firmly laid down, the challenge for businesses now is to keep pace with rising expectations while providing an offering which also compliments the bottom line.”