Earlier this month I was guest lecturer at the (very impressive) University of Derby, talking to Third Year students at the Derby Business School about how deliveries can actually deliver brand values.
The undergraduates were studying Brand Impact and Popular Culture as part of their Marketing and Business Studies courses. Now, at first sight, the practical, un-glamourous business of deliveries and logistics doesn’t seem to have much relationship with the glitzy world of marketing and brand image. However, as web sites take over from traditional brick and mortar stores, the actual final delivery of a product is often a customer’s only direct human contact with a retailer or manufacturer.
I explained to the students that a brand’s reputation is increasingly in the hands of its logistics partners. Research shows that internet shoppers are a lot less loyal than those visiting High Street stores. It just takes one delivery problem, or lack of stock when it’s needed, and the customer will move on to another site.
For a retailer or manufacturer, a lot of money and effort has been spent enticing new customers to try out their particular products. But all that can be entirely wasted through a delivery experience that fails to live up to the brand values the customer has bought into.
I also told the students that, by offering a wider choice of delivery options than their competitors, companies can win and retain new followers.
I revealed that taking delivery of a parcel should be rather like receiving a gift. What everyone wants is a smiling, courteous driver, in a smart uniform, delivering a well packed, nicely presented package.
Most retailers and manufacturers do not have the scale to operate their own delivery vehicles. A shame – as it is gratifying when the neighbours see a Harrod’s van at your door, for instance! So most companies must chose a delivery partner that will provide them with flexible delivery options and also reflect their brand’s quality. And sellers must choose their delivery partners wisely. Today’s increasingly savvy customers actually take note of who an online retailer is partnered with. Some delivery companies suffered such negative publicity over Christmas (you know who I’m thinking of) that consumers are actively avoiding those brands that continue to use them! As in many other branches of commerce, the bottom line is not the only thing to be considered when choosing delivery companies!
Of course the world of vans and deliveries doesn’t have the immediate allure of advertising or TV when marketing and media graduates come to choose their ideal career. But deliveries are very much in the public eye, and there are plenty of job opportunities for creative graduates in the logistics and delivery sectors.
Kuldeep Banwait, the Programme Leader for Undergraduate Marketing Programmes at The University of Derby’s Derby Business School, summed it up well by saying: ‘Logistics is the “forgotten” element of brand delivery. Yet it has the power to make or break reputations.’
I’m not sure if I convinced the students that logistics is exactly the new rock n’ roll, but hopefully the talk opened a few eyes, and showed there are many ways of expressing brand values and aspirations!