With the unprecedented situation during the coronavirus pandemic, retailers are forced to discover how to turn delivery into a competitive advantage.

eCommerce Delivery Strategy During Coronavirus Disruption

We live in strange times, of that there is little doubt. As the coronavirus pandemic tightens its grip on the planet, all nations are having to take drastic steps to slow the spread of this deadly and, as of the time of writing, untreatable plague. Many countries have instigated varying levels of lockdown.

In places such as Spain and Italy, you are now only allowed to leave your home for essential work, shopping for food, or to seek medical attention. In the UK things are a little laxer, with a single session of outdoor exercise also being permitted and, as yet, minimal police enforcement of the rules.


Due to the coronavirus situation, the ecommerce market has been booming, with people shopping from home rather than venturing out to the shops – most of which are now closed anyway. 50 percent of Chinese and 31 percent of Italian consumers say they’re using ecommerce ‘more frequently’ and the UK food and grocery market is forecast to grow 7.1% in 2020, which is £6.8bn up on the previous forecasted annual spend. US based delivery platform Instacart saw a 218 percent increase in downloads between February and March 2020.

This creates a market where home delivery becomes a serious competitive advantage and brands the world over are searching for ways to add value to this once taken for granted service.

Nordic retailers have traditionally been somewhat behind other countries such as the UK and US when it comes to home delivery. However, with this unprecedented situation forcing us all to rethink how we live and work, the time has come to discover how to turn delivery into a competitive advantage.

#1 Understanding the Customer

Times have changed and the needs of your customers have changed alongside them. Delivery time are up due increased demand and you need to be able to manage customer expectations in a realistic yet empathic manner.

This is particularly relevant if your business delivers food and other home essentials. You may find that customers are more impatient and easily frustrated than ever when it comes to their tolerance for delays. However, in this time, delays are nearly inevitable, and you need to make sure expectations are managed right from the moment of first contact.

For example, alternative food brand Huel has a statement at the top of its homepage which lays out in detail what customers should expect in regards to delivery times and order completion. It reassures customers that deliveries are still going out, but they should expect to wait 4-6 days during the current crisis. This means customers place an order in full receipt of the facts and are unlikely to complain due to the delays.

#2 Free Shipping as an Incentive

Many companies look to Amazon as a trailblazer of free shipping, but one must do so with caution. Obviously, Amazon’s “free” next day delivery is part of its Prime subscription model for which customers pay a premium. What’s more is the fact the Prime delivery is actually a loss leader and cost the company more than it brings in.

Many brands simply cannot afford to absorb those kinds of losses and more than one has fallen fowl of trying to follow Amazon’s lead in the normalisation of “free” shipping. However, this doesn’t mean that free shipping cannot be used to incentivise customers to make additional purchases.

Offering the service as a reward for hitting certain spend thresholds is a perfect way to achieve this – making sure the order is of high enough value to absorb the free delivery cost. This is particularly relevant for food retailers as the cost of refrigerated and frozen delivery is even higher.

#3 Added Extras

One thing which was always an issue when ordering online was the lack of information customers would often receive from companies when waiting for their order to arrive.

Salving these issues is an easy fix for most brands and can be achieved with an absolute minimum of effort or cost. Offering services such as free tracking and text updates are a great way to keep customers informed – especially during the current crisis where things are changing from day to day – and demonstrate that yours is a business which cares about more than simply making a sale.

One, perhaps extreme example, comes from pizza delivery brand Dominos which has an order tracking chatbot to keep customers informed as to what stage of the journey their pizza is at. Rotating though order received, prepping, in the oven, quality control, and out for delivery, the platform makes sure customers are in no doubt as to when their pizza is arriving. Clearly this level of detail won’t be appropriate for all ecommerce brands, but it shows what can be achieved with a little out of the [pizza] box thinking.

Final Thoughts

Home delivery is going to continue to be big business throughout this crisis and beyond. Nordic ecommerce brands want to seize the opportunity presented by this and start bringing their delivery options in line with other countries.

Home delivery will be a hot topic at eTail Nordic 2020, being held in October at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen.

Please download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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