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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

From Pony Express to Drones:
Customers Insist on Timeliness

With retail sales declining largely because of Amazon's free same day delivery for Prime subscribers, Macy's and Best Buy are offering same day delivery of online purchases, reports Ina Steiner in a September 4, 2017 www.ecommercebytes.com blog. Timeliness and convenience are often the factors that dictate product choice. The increased importance of these factors has ramifications for all businesses.

From Pony Express to Drones

Speed has always been important to people who need information or goods. The ancient Incas had a cadre of relay runners who would speed their way along 3,500 treacherous miles of trails through the Andes Mountain carrying messages. From April, 1860- October, 1861, the Pony Express was a network of relay horseback riders who could carry mail across the US in 10 days, while coaches took 25 days. This service ended with the introduction of new technology - transcontinental telegraph and rail services. But now, the parameters have shrunk from weeks to days to hours. People expect delivery in near real-time. Will drone deliveries become more common?

What Are the Implications for Businesses?

The fast pace of modern life and the ready access to technology mean that when people purchase products and services, they want them NOW.

Businesses must respond in less than a day to inquiries concerning goods or services, including support services. This means having enough well-trained employees and even managers to answer inquiries within a few minutes. Web sites must have timely information, including case studies, product/service specifications, and operating manuals. They must also include answers to the questions customers ask through phone calls or online chats. Additionally, to accelerate delivery, vendors of products must stock enough inventory and deploy state-of-the art inventory control and distribution systems. If customers don't get the information or the goods they want, when they want them, they will turn to competitors.

It is no longer enough for businesses to focus simply on Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. Purchase decisions are not just about features and functions. Purchase decisions often hinge on whether customers can find the information they need and get the goods and services they want when they want them. Like Macy's and Best Buy, other businesses will eventually have to roll out same day product delivery in ever more locations.


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