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53% of consumers are open to autonomous vehicles delivering larger purchases to their homes

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53% of consumers are open to autonomous vehicles delivering larger purchases to their homes

Whether they place an order in store or online, the delivery stage of customer experiences may not require seeing a human being dropping off products at the door, based on research conducted by SOTI.

The Mississauga, Ont.-based software company, which provides technology to manage mobile devices and the Internet of Things (Iot), commissioned Arlington Research to run an online survey of 10,000 people aged 18-65 for its report,  The Tech Effect: Strengthening the Omnichannel to Meet Consumer Demands.

Beyond the 53 per cent who said they would welcome autonomous vehicles to handle large deliveries, nearly half, or 49 per cent, said the same thing about the use of drones to deliver smaller items. In both cases, consumers would also be open to having their purchases dropped off at a convenient nearby location other than their home.

Overall, the research highlighted how integral logistics and fulfillment has become to customer experience (CX) design. For example, 66 per cent of those surveyed said they continue to shop with brands that deliver goods the fastest, while 66 per cent said they expect to know the status of their deliveries at all times.

SOTI found that interest in every delivery option increased significantly since the same research was conducted a year ago. This includes in-store collection/click and collect, which rose by 14 percentage points to 72 per cent of consumers in 2023.

“When combining the many channels and the underpinning technologies consumers need to access when making purchasing decisions, the significance of the supply chain becomes even more important,” the report’s authors wrote. “Retailers have to know what inventory is available to confirm orders, where they are and in what timeframe they will be dispatched and delivered.”

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SOTI’s research isn’t solely focused on deliveries, but its findings in this area stood out from the more conventional wisdom it confirmed about in-store vs. online purchase patterns.

This is a time when many companies are trying to strike the right balance between making use of automation in CX while also keeping the right level of human touch. The spike in support for autonomous vehicles and drones suggests delivery people don’t necessarily offer a lot that reinforces the positive experience a customer will have.

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Instead, the SOTI survey underscores the fact that there are almost two customer journeys in any retail experience. The first is the journey where someone discovers a brand, considers their products and makes a purchase. If they can’t walk out with their product, the second customer journey begins — and it can no longer be on in which they are essentially left waiting in the dark.

There are plenty of apps, like SHOP, which brands are using to help support delivery tracking today, though in practice I’ve found most of them simply integrate with the tracking tool provided by a fulfillment partner, like FedEx, that does the actual work.

A delivery and fulfillment journey that provides more frequent updates, perhaps with greater context behind the estimated time of arrival, could allow a brand to stand out from its competitors right now. Remember that an omnichannel strategy is not just about showing up in many places, but being more intentional about how you show up based on customer preferences and needs.

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