retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest in online grocery shopping in Sweden, where a a courier company and a local supermarket chain have teamed up to test a new service that hinges on a special lock that in installed on customers' front doors.

That lock can be turned off via the couriers' smart phone, which then gives them access to shoppers' houses or apartments if they are not home ... where they then can unpack the groceries and put them in cupboards, refrigerators and freezers. Couriers even will take off their shoes if customers desire.

While the service is being tested in only about 20 homes at the moment, the experiment is described as "part of a global race aimed at solving one of the main headaches facing retailers and logistics companies from Amazon.com Inc. to United Parcel Service Inc.: elusive customers. Without having to juggle the conflicting schedules of customers reluctant to sit at home, PostNord says it can organize more efficient delivery rounds and cut costs."

Indeed, "in-home, in-absentia delivery could help the logistics industry meet a continued surge in online commerce," the Journal writes. "This year, 8.6% of total retail sales world-wide will happen over the Internet, amounting to more than US$2 trillion in sales, according to digital marketing research firm eMarketer—a rise of 23% compared with 2015."
KC's View:
There have been a lot of flirtations with these kinds of concepts, with companies doing such things as installing cabinets and refrigerators in garages that could be accessed from outside walls. These failed, I think, largely because they were too early to the party ..,. people just weren't ready.

And we know that Audi and Volvo have both been testing methods that would allow courier services to car trunks as an alternative to home or office deliveries.

There is a lot of innovation taking place in and around this space, and I think it would be foolish to suggest that none will work ... it is far more likely that several of them will catch on, simply because customers are a lot more ready to accept such concepts than they were just a few years ago. Such a service won't be for everyone, everywhere ... but it is not hard to imagine success stories being told at some point down the road.