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Should Your Small Business Offer Delivery? A Complete Guide


With the new year upon, it’s time to think about ways you can innovate and grow your business in the new year. The end of the year is a good time to reflect on the latest changes and trends within the small business marketplace. In addition to competition from big box stores, small businesses are also facing increased competition from the proliferation of delivery on demand services. These days, it seems there is a delivery based company capable of providing or connecting to every kind of product imaginable. This trend even extends to the increased number of small business delivery services available!

The nationwide popularity of services such as Google Express and Amazon Same-Day Delivery signals that customers prefer, and even expect,  the efficiency and convenience of delivery service. What’s a small business to do?


Evaluate Your Competition

Do not offer small business delivery services if it will economically destroy your business. This might seem obvious, but it could very well happen if you jump into such a major change of the way you do business without proper planning. How can you make sure offering delivery won’t cause considerable problems? Start small, and re-evaluate at every step.

Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • Who are my competitors? Are they offering delivery?
  • If so, what is the experience like for the customer? How long does it take, is there a minimum, how do they structure their online order form?(Consider ordering something from them to experience it yourself.)
  • If they do not offer delivery services, why not? Have they already done the math? Don’t make more work for yourself if they’ve already crunched the numbers for your business sector. Consider posing as a customer, then asking if they are considering adding delivery in the future.

The no-fail method of deciding whether or not to offer delivery is to seek customer feedback. Consider reaching out to your regular customers to discuss the delivery question with them. Would they appreciate the time it would save them? What specifically about delivery appeals to them? What time of day would delivery be most helpful, and for what items?

Ready, Set, Deliver!

Here is a great checklist of things to consider as you begin to get your new small business delivery option up and running!

  • Flyers and other marketing materials to get the word out. Social media posts and speciality business cards given to each in-store customers are great places to start!
  • Hiring a dedicated delivery person. It’s perfectly fine to require your new delivery person to have their own method of transportation (bikes are perfect!).
  • Or expanding the current duties of your staff to include deliveries.
  • Partnering with a delivery service like WeDeliver or Deliv.
  • Partnering with another, complementary business to offer delivery services (One delivery guy, delivering both products to one neighborhood!).
  • Offering unlimited free delivery for any item or free delivery for orders over a certain amount (our recommendation!).
  • Or offering delivery for a small fee.
  • A dedicated phone line or email for delivery orders
  • Listing your business’s new delivery service with Google Places, Yelp, Seamless, HubGrab, and other review sites (here’s how).
  • The safety of your employees and delivery person. Take special care to look into possible risks, or to take security measures to prevent issues.

The type of business you’re running will dictate these choices for you. If you receive tons of small orders in a very localized area, hiring a delivery person might be a great place to start. However, if you will receive fewer orders (only a couple per day) that are larger, you might want to look into partnering with a crowdsourced delivery service, or coming up with other possible services that increase the efficiency or speed by which you are able to serve your customers (same theme as delivery services). This can include offering home-based service (give them a haircut at their house!), online ordering, allowing them to customize their delivery time, or making an app for your company.


Getting Started? Remember To Start Small

Once you have researched your various small business delivery options, not forgetting to look up the necessary insurance or other costs associated with having a delivery person on staff, remember to start small. Before you hire an entire delivery staff or start delivering to every neighborhood in your town, start with a pilot program. The lessons you learn from having one delivery person delivering to one neighborhood will help you build a strong system as you expand. You can include a “request delivery services for your neighborhood” form or button to measure potential interest.

Once you’ve started your delivery program in a small neighborhood, you might start getting requests that you expand your delivery radius. That means it’s working! Remember to expand slowly, though, to ensure your delivery people are well-trained and good ambassadors for your business. They very well may be the main interaction your customers have with your business from now on, and that makes your delivery people very valuable.


Make It A Success

Here are some expert tips for making your new delivery service a success:

  • Offer discounts just towards delivery orders
  • Collect all complaints and compliments in one place (email? web form?) so you can keep an accurate reading on how things are going. Check feedback regularly so you can quickly address possible problems
  • Put limits on your delivery services, only offer delivery options where it is cost effective to do so, and during reasonable times. You can also offer delivery just for specific seasons.
  • Set very clear expectations for delivery times.

Looking for even more ways to improve your business? We recommend:

Participating in a local street fair

Participating in local community service

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