Wickes: customers want speed and precision delivery

"Generally speaking Wickes is not at the forefront of innovation," said Duncan Kendal, supply chain director at Wickes.

But despite this, the DIY and building retailer is striding ahead in its sector when it comes to logistics and delivery options. "We're a truly multichannel business – we still have people on the end of telephones because some of the things our customers are doing are quite complex."

Speaking at the Metapack Delivery Conference in London last week, Kendal also noted how Wickes customers require more diverse delivery options than the typical retailer, from tins of paint to 150-part kitchen. "A tonne bag of sand? I still haven't found the DPD carrier willing to do that for me."

But while Wickes offers one-hour Click & Collect, day-of-choice delivery and even same-day delivery, compared to the speed of the rest of the retail industry he doesn't believe this is a huge achievement. "Everyone else is moving much quicker even if we're good in this sector."

He said: "The unfortunate truth is all those consumers are being trained by what 'good' looks like – there's Amazon's relentless delivery achievement, Argos with its same-day delivery at a ridiculously low price, and even carriers like DPD are doing a great job with precise technology."

He added: "It would be dead easy if we thought we had to service just our consumers in our shops – we wouldn't do anything."

Kendal described how Wickes customers are becoming increasingly precise with their delivery requirements. "'I can't get it in my car', 'I need it tomorrow for when the job starts' or 'I want to pick it up when I'm out and about shopping' – speed and precision is the new norm."

He said the retailer at first did not think a building materials company would need to offer the same delivery options as the rest of the retail industry. "But if you build it, they will come," he said, noting how Click & Collect is significantly the retailer's fastest growing channel.

Wickes has partnered with On The Dot to provide same-day or nominated-hour delivery for 70% of its product ranges. Instead of customers coming into store within an hour to pick up a product using Click & Collect, On The Dot picks up the product and couriers it to the customers instead for a charge of £9.95.

"We've got one process driving more than one fulfilment option," he said. "You need to take time looking at what you have, rather than looking at drones – you need to utilise your existing assets."

And Kendal said customers are willing to pay £10 for this delivery option, describing how one customer bought insulation tape for 99p and paid £9.95 for same day delivery. "If you have your finger in a leak you don't want to go to the shop."

He also noted how another customer spent £1.59 on a plug and paid the additional £9.95 for same-day delivery when they lived less than 1.5km away, while another customer ordered £2,000 worth of goods for delivery in four days time. "It's not just about speed, but precision – time is money," he explained. "It would be great if we could sustain charging £9.95, but I expect it to be eroded away over time."

"It's a shift in mentality," he added. "How do I look around the business and see what we already have working for us, bolt on expertise and make that work hard to deliver for the customer."

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