However, those of us who have been working home delivery (This was a major focus of mine at a major appliance manufacturer) have known for years that the big struggle in this space is in installation and service along with returns. The biggest reason people shy away from internet purchasing of big items (for this example lets say a refrigerator) is because it is so hard to coordinate installation and, if something goes wrong, who do you call? The acquisition of Optima by XPO solves that problem for home deliveries made by XPO / 3PD.
XPO will now have the capability to provide a seamless solution. Before this acquisition the purchase of the refrigerator went something like this:
- You buy from an internet retailer who may or may not coordinate the delivery (some just give you a phone number to a LTL carrier and basically you are on your own).
- The refrigerator is delivered to your curb (many will only do curbside deliveries).
- The driver may or may not help you unload (many LTL carriers will tell you that you have to unload the refrigerator yourself).
- The driver leaves and now you and your wife stare at this new beautiful refrigerator sitting in your garage and your wife says to you, "What the hell are we going to do with that"?
Now think of the "new world" of big box deliveries (again, our fictional refrigerator) with the integrated and seamless solution XPO will offer:
- You choose an internet retailer specifically because they have the XPO / 3PD / Optima team as their delivery agent (Same refrigerator but this retailer is preferred due to the delivery mechanism).
- When you coordinate the delivery you tell them you want it fully installed and the installation is seamlessly scheduled for you.
- When the driver shows up to deliver the refrigerator the installation technicians arrive at the same time and they take over.
- Your refrigerator is installed, icemaker tested, etc. etc.
- You and your wife look at the beautiful new refrigerator where it belongs - installed and ready to be used.
This is why this acquisition is so important. The complexities of buying a big box item over the internet are lifted from the consumer and put where they belong - on the delivery agent. No one has been able to do this better than Optima and now Optima is exclusively part of the XPO / 3PD network.
Bradley Jacobs has, in one masterful stroke, accomplished two great things for his company. First, he has given the company the ability to make a seamless end to end solution for home delivery all the way through delivery and service. Second, and probably as important, he took the leader of this service, Optima, off the market for other home delivery agents. Now, if you were a local home delivery agent and behind the scenes you were using Optima, you will no longer be able to do to that as Optima is exclusive to 3PD.
This is the equivalent of a "Pick 6" in football. Your great defense not only makes a great defensive play but it also scores a touchdown.
The last frontier for potentially preventing people from buying big box items over the internet is now just returns - and don't bet against XPO in this space - they will figure it out.