In another twist to the race to home delivery and the attempt to de-throne Amazon, Wal-Mart is now testing lockers in their stores. Along with a beefed up web presence Wal-Mart will try to entice you to order through the web (capture the web based buyer) however avoid the huge costs of the final mile.
This is the dilemma all of the retailers have and ultimately will have to solve: The logistics costs of the final mile (delivery to your home) are a huge part of the total costs of logistics when you deliver to the home. In fact, if you just measure the variable cost of sending one unit of something to your home virtually all the cost is in that final mile delivery.
If Wal-Mart is successful they can leverage the huge advantage they have in store delivery logistics while not incurring the costs for that final delivery - or they may be able to appropriately segment in the consumers mind the differential cost of delivery to the store v. delivery to the home. This is an area Amazon cannot compete in (they have no stores). As a consumer, because their is no option, when I order from Amazon I will accept a delivery charge. However if I am presented with a "free" to pick up at store and $6.00 to get to the home I may think twice about the $6.00.
So, what issue do the lockers solve? This solves the final "three feet" of the purchase experience. I do not want to interact with a sales person or wait in line to pick up my goods. Now I will be able to walk into the store, find my locker, get my products and leave. It is very compelling.
I probably overstated my position above saying Amazon could not compete with this although they would need a partner. The UPS store seems like the logical partner as it solidifies the use of UPS for the package delivery and there is one on just about every street corner.
Of course, there is still partnering with the Post Office (interestingly UPS has already started doing in the sustainability space) which I think makes a lot of sense. We shall see how this ever changing landscape is developed. Stay tuned.
I have two labels you can come back to for reading all the news on both Same Day Delivery and Final Mile Delivery. If this is your topic, come back early and often for updates to these labels.