Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough


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Amazon raised the bar for fast, economical and reliable small product home delivery. Yet home delivery of large-format products has not kept up. Isn’t it time to deliver all the goods?

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Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough

  1. 1. Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough Amazon raised the bar for fast, economical, and reliable home delivery. Yet home delivery of large-format products—appliances, furniture, and electronics— has not kept up. Isn’t it time to deliver all the goods? Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 1
  2. 2. The market for home delivery of large-format products—appliances, furniture, and electronics— is poised for growth, but structural hurdles are blocking retailers and home delivery service (HDS) providers from capturing that growth. The market is fragmented and overly complex. Retailers are generally uncertain about the need to differentiate through home delivery, and because there is no breakthrough supply option available, they hesitate to alter the existing business model. Home delivery suppliers have neither the size nor density to provide a breakthrough option and are often cash-strapped, unable to make capability-building investments ahead of revenues. A nationwide HDS integrator could resolve these issues—while also unlocking sizable savings and improving customer service. This “breakthrough option” hinges on retailers, HDS providers, and investors that are willing to work together. Industry at an Impasse The market for home delivery of large-format products offers significant opportunity for growth. Currently estimated at $8 billion in the United States (about 60 percent for the last-mile segment and 40 percent for the line-haul segment), the market could see a 6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach $10 billion by 2015. Demographic and market trends are fundamentally changing the home delivery market for largeformat product retailers and HDS providers (see sidebar: Four Trends in Home Delivery on page 6). However, such growth can come only by satisfying consumers’ expectations for better performance at a lower cost. Today’s HDS industry is not equipped to meet these expectations. Indeed, in our recent benchmarking of major retailers’ home delivery programs, we found that even today’s “best of breed” combined performance profile of retailers falls short on crucial performance dimensions, such as cost, customer service, and lead time (see figure 1). Figure 1 Today’s home delivery industry is falling short of buyers’ expectations Most important for retailers Cost for delivery Lagging Industry average Breakthrough More than $90 Low Medium High No weekend delivery Weekend extra $10-20 Weekend no extra cost No guarantee 6 hours 7-14 days 2-day premium Quality of installation and customer service $75 $50 3-5 days 2-day premium Extended delivery hours Moderately important for retailers Less than $40 Delivery window 4 hours 2 hours Lead time Source: A.T. Kearney analysis 2-3 days Best of breed today across five major retailers Required to meet consumer expectations Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 2
  3. 3. To understand why retailers are deficient in these areas requires first understanding the variety of upstream and last-mile network strategies that large-format product retailers use for home delivery (see figure 2). To appreciate the complexity, let’s follow a hypothetical order. Figure 2 Retailers use a complex combination of home delivery strategies, but an integrated strategy is ideal Upstream network strategy Location of inventory Line-haul delivery to local market Proximity to manufacturer Managed by manufacturer Last-mile network strategy Proximity to national retailer or regional distribution center Proximity to retail store or local distribution center Managed by retailer Managed by HDS provider Outsourced nationwide or by region Nationwide HDS provider Multiple regional HDS provider Last-mile delivery Local market agents of HDS provider Assets and drivers owned by HDS provider Dedicated networks (trucks and drivers for one retailer) Dedicated (retailer branded) Dedicated (HDS branded) Commingled Integration (upstream and last-mile) strategy Different networks used depending on category (appliance versus patio furniture) Category specific Cross-category mixing End-to-end strategy deployed that includes call centers and tracking Retailer HDS provider More prevalent Note: HDS is home delivery service. Source: A.T. Kearney analysis A customer places an online order for a 60-inch plasma television not stocked in a local store. The order is delivered to the closest inventory location, which may be the upstream manufacturer’s warehouse, the retailer’s national distribution center, or a local distribution center. The television is line hauled to a local delivery hub using a truck managed by the manufacturer, the retailer, or a logistics line-haul provider. From the local hub, a retailer-contracted HDS provider typically manages and coordinates last-mile delivery. This HDS provider may be a national or regional last-mile management partner for the retailer. Although some HDS providers operate that last-mile truck delivery run in-house, many subcontract it to a network of local delivery agents. In the end, the truck arriving at the customer’s house could be retailer dedicated (most common today, with all orders on the truck coming from one retailer), HDS dedicated and branded (an exception rather than the rule), or commingled (another exception, with the products on the truck commingled across multiple retailers). Category integration adds more complexity: The delivery truck might be configured to carry only televisions and related consumer electronics items (category specific) or able to deliver other categories, such as furniture (cross-category). Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 3
  4. 4. Working together, retailers, home delivery service providers, and investors can create a nationwide, single-branded HDS integrator network. This complex web of network options inevitably leaves the industry with two structural gaps (see figure 3): Fragmentation and complexity. Home delivery is extremely fragmented. Most large retailers have a combination of captive delivery networks, managed internally or externally by region or product category. In turn, their external HDS partners manage a complex downstream network of local agents dedicated to one retail client. And because the actual deliveries are likely to be dedicated to one retailer or category, they are executed and delivered separately, even if bound for the same ZIP code. This limits end-to-end real-time product visibility, complicates coordination and hand-off activities, and raises the risk of delays, damages, and poor customer service. Subscale volume and density. With retailer-captive operations and limited commingling across retailers or product categories, last-mile delivery runs cannot achieve maximum density or scale. This drives up delivery costs and limits flexibility, including the ability to offer tighter delivery windows. This fragmented, subscale HDS model worked in the 1990s, when lead time for home delivery was measured in weeks, and delivery quality and reliability were not crucial because retailers were competing largely on SKU selection and price. But this model is woefully inadequate for today’s e-commerce and omni-channel retailing norm. Figure 3 The web of home delivery operating models is overly complex National retailer 1 National retailer 2 National retailer 3 Retailer’s distribution center Manufacturer’s distribution center Retailer’s distribution center Local retailers Illustrative Appliances Big screen TVs Agent hubs or retail stores Consumers in same zip code Big screen TVs Hubs or stores Appliances Big screen TVs Hubs or stores Line hauls Last-mile delivery runs Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 4
  5. 5. The Retailer Challenge Although retailers and HDS companies see these structural issues and acknowledge the need to change, each side faces unique challenges (see figure 4). The structural headwinds further reinforce and exacerbate each other, creating gridlock that is bringing progress to a halt. Retailers face three challenges to large-format home delivery: Disagreement on “role” in home delivery. To remain relevant in the emerging retailing norm, most leading retailers generally agree that they need to fix their large-format HDS functions in terms of cost, service, and lead time. Most also concur that building a forward-thinking home delivery network will require investments, including expanding warehousing footprints, improving end-toend delivery visibility, and increasing last-mile productivity and scale. However, leading retailers do not agree about the strategic role of home delivery. Some view home delivery as a strategic differentiator. Wanting to keep in-house control, they oppose commingling with other retailers. Conversely, some are looking for absolute performance: reducing costs while improving service and speed. These players are generally willing to look at industry-wide approaches that unlock improved service and cost performance, but the opposing perspectives deepen the impasse. Near-term cost pressures. Retailers face constant pressure to contain costs across all aspects of their value chains. Home delivery for large products is no exception because it represents a higher percentage of a typical customer order compared to smaller-format categories, such as apparel and consumables (see figure 5 on page 6). However, because of myriad cost pressures on retailers, other priorities often take precedence over tackling longer-term, step-change home delivery solutions. No immediate HDS option. If a leading HDS firm today offered lower costs and better service, retailers might be compelled to take the one-time switching pain rather than spending the time and money to fix their home delivery operations. But no such option exists because HDS firms have not yet secured sufficient scale, density, or scope of services. Even the largest national HDS player in the market today accounts for only 4 to 6 percent of total annual deliveries. This lack of a clear supply market option prevents retailers from a step-change transformation. Figure 4 Challenges for retailers and home delivery service (HDS) providers Retailer challenges HDS provider challenges Disagreement among retailers about their role in home delivery Lack size and density to offer retailers a lower cost, better service option Bigger supply chain cost pressures push home delivery focus to the back burner Operational issues No compelling reason (cost or service) to outsource to HDS providers Inability to invest in new technologies, capabilities, or infrastructure • Processes designed and dedicated for own retail customers • Last-mile focus on some categories but not all Reinforcing driver Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 5
  6. 6. Figure 5 Home delivery service represents a large percentage of a typical customer’s order Average home delivery cost as % of basket size1 Parcel-format products Large-format products 12% 9% 4% Apparel 1 4% Consumables Big screen TVs Appliances Home delivery cost includes line-haul and last-mile delivery but not warehouse fulfillment pick-and-pack. Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Four Trends in Home Delivery Four trends are driving growth and increasing consumers’ expectations for large-format product home delivery. The first is what we call the e-promise. As e-commerce grows, industry leaders such as Amazon—along with parcel delivery providers such as FedEx and UPS—are pushing the fulfillment frontier. Free, two-day delivery with status tracking is the new norm, and same-day shipping options are expanding. These innovations anchor consumer expectations for all home deliveries, regardless of the product. Consumers don’t much care about the market dynamics and economics of large-format versus parcel delivery. They want—and will increasingly require—low delivery prices, tight delivery windows, and top-notch service. The second trend is bipolarized age groups. The U.S. population is skewing simultaneously older and younger. By 2025, one in four Americans will be younger than 25 (millennials) while another one in four will be 60 or older (baby boomers). Although these groups have their differences, both prefer home delivery. Boomers have diminished physical capacity and will seek competitively priced delivery, free old-product takeaway, information services at the point of delivery, and installation options. Millennials with hectic schedules will demand convenience, flexibility, and speed. Options such as rapid arrival, two-hour delivery windows, and flexible nighttime options will become more valuable. A third trend is urbanization. By 2020, about 90 percent of Americans will be living in urban centers, up from 80 percent today. This represents a longterm migration of 20 million consumers from suburb to city—and from large-format stores to limited retail floor space. Retailers that previously displayed a full assortment of items must figure out how to coordinate a showroom-focused urban store with fast home delivery from warehouses. Finally, consumers are buying more and bigger products and smaller vehicles. Large-format consumer products are getting bigger. For example, the average purchased television was 27 inches in 2004, 37 inches in 2011, and could top 60 inches by 2015. And people are buying more. In the early 1990s, the average household had two televisions; today, the average is three. These trends will continue as e-commerce and home delivery offer customers a means to purchase large items more often and without the logistics barrier of getting the items home. In fact, that barrier grows as Americans buy smaller vehicles. From 2009 to 2011, small vehicle sales outpaced trucks and SUVs by more than 5 percent annually. Combined, big products and small cars will boost the demand for home delivery. Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 6
  7. 7. The Service Provider Challenge The fragmented HDS industry encompasses scores of national and regional operators and hundreds of local agents and delivery contractors, with the top five players managing less than 30 percent of total delivery volume (see figure 6). Three challenges are preventing HDS providers from consolidating and thus thwarting the emergence of a new operating model: Lack of size and density. A primary constraint for HDS providers is retailers’ reluctance to commingle their volumes and unlock their captive operations. If one leading retailer with significant captive operations were to outsource that volume to just one top national HDS provider, it would at least double that provider’s volume. The lack of scale makes for a higher cost per order because fixed costs are amortized across fewer orders per run and because low-density runs increase driving time. In addition, this lack of scale and density hinders efforts to improve service, such as offering narrow delivery windows and weekend runs. So suppliers cannot offer a breakthrough supply option until they have scale, and retailers are waiting for a breakthrough supply option to offer their volumes. Operational issues. In the parcel home delivery market, scale was the silver bullet that helped create a FedEx and UPS duopoly. But delivery for large products is more complicated (see figure 7 on page 8). For example, significantly more labor and time is required at the customer’s home. This portion of the cost to serve, estimated at 35 to 45 percent of total last-mile delivery costs as opposed to 5 to 10 percent for small parcels, will not necessarily benefit from pure scale. Instead, new technologies and processes will be needed to unlock productivity. Additionally, none of today’s HDS carriers perform well in last-mile delivery in all large-format product categories (furniture, appliances, and electronics), and few perform well across the end-to-end supply chain. Because their operations are dedicated to their retailer customers, HDS firms often have a narrow scope of services: for example, provide last-mile delivery on a specific category, but have no line-haul capabilities. Delivery excellence will be needed across all categories, and from line haul to last mile. Figure 6 The top five home delivery players manage less than 30 percent of the total volume Market share (%) Top 5 home delivery service providers Home delivery providers (examples) 28% (Most are asset-light) Local providers and in-house retailer managed Most leverage 72% Regional and local agents (All own assets or contract with owner operators) • • • • • • 3PD J.B. Hunt Exel Home Direct GE CEVA • • • • • Pilot Estes NSD SEKO Ryder • • • • • • National thirdparty logistics Cardinal Spirit R.A.S. Home Delivery USA Sepro Logistics Linn Starr • • • • OPTIMA Zenith CDS Hundreds of oneto three-truck owner operators 2011 Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 7
  8. 8. Figure 7 Home delivery for large products is more complex than for parcels Parcels Large products Density • 13 stops per hour • 4 to 5 minutes per stop • 1.7 stops per hour • 35 minutes per stop Delivery team • 1 person • 2 people Homeowner interaction • Minimal to none because parcels left at the door • Signature rarely required • High because of in-home installation and Q&A • Order acceptance required Team member requirements • Driving • Some lifting • Driving • Heavy lifting Liability issues • Limited • Unlimited because of in-home delivery and setup Infrastructure requirements • Limited scheduling and rescheduling • Tracking • Returns management • Call-center coordination • Heavy scheduling and rescheduling • Tracking • Customer interaction • Technical know-how • Returns management • Call-center coordination • Call-ahead confirmation Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Investment muscle. HDS providers do not have the capital (ahead of revenues) to invest in new technologies, capabilities, and infrastructure necessary to provide a breakthrough supply option. Investments in three areas are key: Integrated order management and visibility systems. Many HDS companies lack an integrated and seamless platform that retailers can easily plug into. To provide coordinated order management, status tracking for customers, and effective anticipation and management of customer service issues, retailers need end-to-end visibility and coordination—from retailer warehouses and regional hubs to delivery routes and customer service after delivery. Establishing an integrated systems platform will encourage and enable retailer adoption. Hub and warehousing infrastructure. Most leading HDS companies lack the large, national warehousing and hub infrastructure to create a value proposition based on large assortment space and fast lead time. Most are asset-less; they access retailer-owned or leased assets. To support a retailer commingled, cross-category delivery network, HDS companies must invest in building out their asset footprints. In-home productivity. To achieve end-to-end cost efficiency, HDS companies must develop technologies and material handling equipment that can boost in-home delivery productivity. For example, technology could be used to cross-reference the size of a product with information about the customer’s home (acquired via a phone- or web-based questionnaire during the confirmation of delivery date) to identify the likelihood of needing to remove doors. Delivery could then be assigned to a team that specializes in door removal. Most HDS providers are undercapitalized to invest ahead of revenue. This is exacerbated by some large retailers’ hesitation to outsource business volume in a non-captive manner to a select few strategic HDS partners. Hence, the gridlock continues. Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 8
  9. 9. Call for a Nationwide HDS Integrator A leading HDS integrator could solve today’s retailer and HDS challenges (see figure 8). Similar to UPS and FedEx in parcel delivery, an integrator would be a national service provider that can offer an end-to-end (line haul and last mile) network with leading capabilities and technology to sustain best-in-class performance. Rather than being dedicated to a specific retailer or product category, an integrator serves a pool of clients. This emerging player could unlock value—building scale advantage and reducing coordination complexity—by performing a crucial set of integration activities that are thus far absent or underdeveloped. Integration will encompass a variety of actions: • Coordinate pooling across retailers to increase scale and density in last-mile delivery, thus reducing cost per delivery and increasing flexibility. Although the trucks and delivery uniforms would not be dedicated to one retailer, differentiation could occur at the point of delivery, for example by providing retailer-branded invoices and information packets and using wireless tablets to access retailer-specific product information. • Configure last-mile delivery to commingle orders across categories. • Develop integrated system platforms for end-to-end order management and tracking visibility, enabling a seamless customer service experience from order to post-delivery. • Develop software tools to improve productivity, such as route optimization and delivery management, and provide incentives for continuous improvement across downstream local delivery networks. • Establish a national training program to ensure consistent delivery quality. Figure 8 A home delivery service integrator could transform the industry Fragmented home delivery Home delivery service integrator Fragmented line haul, hubs, and last-mile deliveries National retailer 1 Appliances National retailer 2 Big screen TVs National retailer 3 Shared hubs, commingled, last-mile deliveries, and integrated systems National retailer 1 Agent hubs or retail stores National retailer 2 Consumers in same zip code Big screen TVs Appliances Big screen TVs National retailer 3 Big screen TVs • • • • Hubs or stores Local retailers Appliances Appliances Big screen TVs Hubs or stores Fragmented delivery truck density, limited scheduling flexibility Numerous IT systems Limited end-to-end visibility Inconsistent delivery and service training Consumers in same zip code Big screen TVs Hubs or stores Local retailers Agent hubs or retail stores • • • • Hubs or stores Maximum delivery truck density, flexibility to schedule deliveries Integrated IT systems End-to-end visibility Uniform delivery and service training Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 9
  10. 10. For retailers, an integrated HDS network provides strategic flexibility for large-format home deliveries, allowing them to meet their evolving business needs. Opting into the network will be smart for those seeking to capitalize on the breakthrough value of cross-firm scale and density, such as boutique online retailers or regional dealers. Large retailers with significant volume may also opt in if they choose to focus on scale-based cost and service efficiency rather than develop in-house home delivery as a competitive differentiator. This provides an ideal outsourcing option with a small commitment of internal capital. An integrator network unlocks and passes on significant cost savings to retailers. By doubling its scale with a cross-retailer, cross-category network, a midsized retailer could save about 7 percent in last-mile delivery costs. And the savings increase as the network grows—up to about a 20 percent cost savings at volumes nine to 10 times that of today’s average retailer (see figure 9). (Note that these savings result solely from increased last-mile density and scale. Additional savings may come from increased scale in upstream line haul and improved productivity and coordination through enhancements to systems and processes.) Figure 9 Retailers' costs drop as the size of the integrator network grows Cost per delivery 100% 100% 93% 95% 89% 90% 87% 85% 85% 85% 83% 83% 80% 80% 9X 10X 80% 5% 0% 1X 2X 3X 4X 5X 6X 7X 8X Last-mile delivery volume Note: X represents an average midsized retailer volume of ~1-3 million annual deliveries. Source: A.T. Kearney analysis Further, large HDS integrator networks can unlock breakthrough scale and density while reducing coordination complexity. The resulting platform replaces the fragmented network of captive retailer partner programs, subscale density trucks, and IT systems. As more retailers migrate to a few HDS integrator platforms, fragmentation and complexity is reduced across the ecosystem, further driving retailer migration. Structural changes will also encourage HDS integrators to invest ahead of the curve. The value created by integrating will increase the pie for both retailers and HDS companies. This win-win rather than zero-sum proposition will, all else being equal, increase the integrator’s profit margin. The combination of business growth and increased margins will attract a virtuous cycle of investments in developing capabilities and technologies to further improve the integrator network’s efficiency, services, and ease of retailer adoption. Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 10
  11. 11. The Triple Play: Collaboration Together, retailers, HDS providers, and investors can create a nationwide, single-branded integrator network. If all three parties take calculated risks and play complementary roles, they can unlock transformative win-win value. Retailers that actively identify and initiate partnerships with high-potential HDS providers can capture breakthrough home delivery performance. By rationalizing their existing dedicated networks and outsourcing to a more targeted partner base, retailers can contribute essential volume to break today’s industry impasse and begin to build the integrator vision. Forwardthinking retailers will get ahead of the curve by securing home delivery performance for competitive advantage. HDS providers that build national integrator networks will take a lynchpin leadership role. The first step is to segment and target appropriate retailers to aggressively build scale. Investing in assets and technologies will enable the essential capacity, service level, last-mile efficiency, and end-toend visibility. This includes exploring options to selectively acquire underused retailer assets that can be better leveraged in a commingled network. Integrators that define a compelling business case for engaging with investors will secure a much-needed capital infusion. The institutional investment and private equity community will also play important roles in this transformation. Investors can inject the capital that aspiring HDS providers need to develop infrastructure systems and productivity-enhancing technologies to accelerate retailer adoption of a commingled national integrator network. In return, savvy investors can expect a robust return on investment in the win-win transformation of the growing large-format home delivery sector. Authors Jeff Ward, partner, Chicago jeff.ward@atkearney.com Kumar Venkataraman, partner, Chicago kumar.venkataraman@atkearney.com Jeff Sexstone, principal, Atlanta jeffrey.sexstone@atkearney.com Arsenio Martinez, principal, New York arsenio.martinezsimon@atkearney.com Michael Hu, principal, Chicago michael.hu@atkearney.com Heavy Lifting Required: A Large-Format Home Delivery Breakthrough 11
  12. 12. A.T. Kearney is a global team of forward-thinking partners that delivers immediate impact and growing advantage for its clients. We are passionate problem solvers who excel in collaborating across borders to co-create and realize elegantly simple, practical, and sustainable results. Since 1926, we have been trusted advisors on the most mission-critical issues to the world’s leading organizations across all major industries and service sectors. A.T. Kearney has 57 offices located in major business centers across 39 countries. Americas Atlanta Calgary Chicago Dallas Detroit Houston Mexico City New York San Francisco São Paulo Toronto Washington, D.C. Asia Pacific Bangkok Beijing Hong Kong Jakarta Kuala Lumpur Melbourne Mumbai New Delhi Seoul Shanghai Singapore Sydney Tokyo Europe Amsterdam Berlin Brussels Bucharest Budapest Copenhagen Düsseldorf Frankfurt Helsinki Istanbul Kiev Lisbon Ljubljana London Madrid Milan Moscow Munich Oslo Paris Prague Rome Stockholm Stuttgart Vienna Warsaw Zurich Middle East and Africa Abu Dhabi Dubai Johannesburg Manama Riyadh For more information, permission to reprint or translate this work, and all other correspondence, please email: insight@atkearney.com. A.T. Kearney Korea LLC is a separate and independent legal entity operating under the A.T. Kearney name in Korea. © 2013, A.T. Kearney, Inc. All rights reserved. The signature of our namesake and founder, Andrew Thomas Kearney, on the cover of this document represents our pledge to live the values he instilled in our firm and uphold his commitment to ensuring “essential rightness” in all that we do.