Super-sized Logistics

Thanks to the Amazon Effect, fast and free delivery is the new normal, forcing other online sellers to keep up. However, there’s one area of e-commerce where online sellers can still compete logistically with Amazon and big box players: delivery of oversized, larger-than-parcel items, such as furniture, sofas, armoires, mattresses, treadmills, and more. But every opportunity comes with certain hurdles.

A recent uShip report—Realities in Oversized E-Commerce Delivery in the Amazon Era—looks at the experiences of consumers who have made an oversized online purchase in the past 12 months. The findings shed light on consumer frustrations and mindset when buying large items online, as well as ways retailers can proactively begin to address these pain points.

Oversized e-commerce is on the rise. Buyers—particularly millennials—are more comfortable than ever making large online purchases sight unseen.

But large-item logistics remains a black hole for most online sellers. There’s simply way more to consider when shipping a 250-pound couch cross country compared to cosmetics or cross trainers. Pickup and delivery schedules, insurance, assembly, and bottom-line transportation costs are all friction-causing factors.

When consumers have a poor delivery experience, it reflects negatively on a seller’s brand, regardless if fault lies with the carrier. At a time when parcels can be delivered in a matter of hours, too many buyers of large, bulky items are experiencing damages during delivery. Some shipments don’t arrive at all.

Nearly one in six (16 percent) consumers had to immediately figure out how to transport an oversized item themselves after making the purchase, the survey reports.

When it comes to last-mile delivery, e-retailers can’t afford to skimp on innovation (at best) or ignore it entirely (at worst). It’s as much of a selling point as the product itself. Many turn to less-than-truckload shipping options, concerned that white-glove service will be more expensive—which is typically not the case.

Without a turnkey, low-cost delivery option in place, there is a strong chance that the money spent acquiring customers will be for naught.

What do consumers want to see improved? Proactive updates, white-glove service, choice in delivery company, and more control over the delivery time slots. These are all fixable moments that online sellers can resolve with the right partners and technology.

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