Deliveries. Nobody likes waiting in for parcels to be delivered. It is tying and nine times out of ten, a waste of time.
The plenary speech
I once attended a conference where the keynote speaker was the global CEO of a major logistics brand. (We called them couriers back then.)
After the speech, which was listened to intently, came the fairly typical Q&A spot. As is normal with these stage-managed affairs, the soft question came from a corporate plant in the audience to open up the session, but it was the second question that really got the session going.
What is it like to be the most important person in your organisation?
There was an audible groan from the guy sat in the next seat at the simpering nature of the question.
The CEO paused for a moment, then replied:
I have no idea.
I am not the most important person.
The men and women who collect and deliver our parcels are the most important people in our organisation. They are the ones who the deal with our customers, face to face, often on a daily basis.
The person who asked the question was clearly surprised at the answer and sheepishly walked away from the microphone. However, in those few lines, the CEO had hit the nail right on the head.
I judge, and I assume many other people do as well, mail order services by the quality of service I get at my front door. I want:
- The right product
- At the right quality
- Delivered to me, at the right time
If I cannot get that, you are unlikely to get a repeat order from me.
From what I can gather, Amazon Flex seems to be a casualisation of the final leg of the journey of my orders from Amazon’s major shipping warehouse to my front door.
I have seen job adverts offering people “self-employed” roles to deliver my orders.
Is this an attempt by Amazon to reduce their costs? It seems that way to me.
Now frankly, I do not want “self-employed” drivers delivering what I order. Not because I am against small businesses. Quite the opposite in fact, they form the backbone of the economy. I want the confidence to know that my orders are being fulfilled by professional courier services, not farmed out to the lowest cost solution. Whilst this method may work most of the time, the real test comes when something goes wrong.
The old days
A few years ago, my orders from Amazon were delivered by a company called DPD UK. These people gave me a one hour timeslot when my parcel would be delivered. No more hanging around, wasting time. They never failed to meet that timeslot and were reliable every single time. As a result, my spending with Amazon went through the roof. It was trouble free. I ordered. DPD told me when it would be there. Parcel arrived. I got on with my life. Sorted.
Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
As a customer, I am not comfortable with this new arrangement. It may be fine for other people, but for me, I think it is a mistake. As a result, my spending with Amazon has gone through the floor and the odd time I do absolutely have to use them, I select the delivery locker option. This is by no means as convenient as a direct delivery, but I know I can go to the locker location, at a time of my choosing as long as the retail premises are open.
It works, but it still feels like a downgrade in service and that feeling shapes my spending patterns.