Even White Elephant Gift Shipping is Dull

Posted by PartyWeDo on Friday, July 16, 2010


UPS delivers over 5 billion packages a year….FedEx adds a bit over a billion per year and the U.S. Postal Service employs almost as many people as WalMart, to deliver packages.

The actual number of packages moved by these parcel delivery giants and their smaller cousins is probably in the 6-Billion packages a year range.
Parcel delivery services have been the fastest-growing transportation segment in the United States over the past two decades. This market has more than doubled its share of the nation’s transportation budget since 1980 and now carries at least 10% of each day’s gross domestic product in the United States.

The package delivery business may be huge and growing, but it is still dull and unimaginative!

A recent paper distributed by the Association for Postal Commerce revealed that there are two main uses for package delivery in the US:

Business to Business and Business to Consumer.

From the APC study, we find that Business to Business (B2B) represents 83% of all Overnight Parcel Deliveries and 68% of all Ground Parcel Deliveries. It is OK for these deliveries to be dull, because efficient and speed trump emotion in this delivery category.

The Business to Consumer (B2C) numbers are a bit different, with Overnight at 17% and Ground at 32%. These packages move from a business that has a more consumer-centered mind-set. Emotion is the rule of the day in retail, and many of these deliveries were initiated by individuals to meet their personal needs, or as a gift for someone else. The B2C shipment involves people who are personally invested in a good delivery result. Good results are especially critical in the delivery of a gift.

To prove the personal emotional tie to the B2C delivery category… Just miss the delivery date of a customer’s gift for a grandson’s birthday, and then watch how the customer service line lights-up!

The B2C parcel delivery category represents what Amazon, Overstock or Target and WalMart do with their products when they ship. Before shipment, these retailers do everything possible to keep the customers engaged, so that they will return to purchase from them often.

So, if they are working very hard to keep each customer happily involved during most of the purchasing process, why do they allow the final part of the delivery process to be so uneventful? Answer: they haven’t thought imaginatively…

The solution to continued engagement during the shipping process is to provide memorable experiences ahead of the actual delivery at the doorstep. You know… Something fun between the time of purchase and the time that the UPS guy arrives.

Let’s assume that Grandma purchased a Lego Batman set for her grandson, and that Amazon had a plan to keep everyone engaged beyond just the point of purchase.
lego set
Now let’s pretend that Amazon/Grandma sent a email note to the grandson, via his parents, suggesting that Batman was coming to visit his house very soon. Do you think that the grandson would become engaged in the process of delivery? Curiosity is a powerful emotion.

Then two days later, another email is sent to the parents, suggesting that they print off an attached note from “Batman” informing their son how special he is and how much his grandmother talks about him and loves him. The boy is engaged, the parents are participating, grandma is involved, and the delivery is anticipated. When the UPS guy arrives and the box is opened, all the memories of the experience flood in…

Imagine if Batman followed-up with a message a few days later saying: “I hope that you enjoy your new Lego set, Love Grandma and Batman”

Emotional ties and lasting memories among family and friends can be enhanced, even in a the middle of a process that is usually dull and unimaginative.

What would you do to make Business to Consumer parcel delivery more fun?

Our family uses an online gift exchange party that is modeled after the traditional white elephant gift exchange. We have found that we are more connected and engaged in the gift giving process, even from a distance.

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