The Rise of Quick Commerce in 2021

In 2021, the modern consumer journey demands speed. From takeaway food, to online shopping deliveries, the sooner a customer has their purchase in their hands, the better.

With this in mind, the arrival of quick commerce (or q-commerce) is something that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. If you can order a takeaway in under an hour, then surely consumers should be able to order other things super fast!

Let’s take a closer look at quick commerce, the advantages that it brings, and how brands can implement it.

The ever-changing eCommerce landscape

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, a study by PwC highlighted that most consumers around the world valued efficiency and convenience more than anything else. In the US, 80% said they’re the key ingredients of a positive customer experience.

Traditionally, four things drive the need for speed and convenience; busy lifestyles, smaller households, urbanization and aging populations.

But the pandemic has accentuated these needs, particularly in terms of commerce delivery. Today, social distancing and the prevalence of working from home mean consumers are less likely to drop into a store. So convenient commerce delivery is more sought-after than ever.

According to the OECD, 21% of US consumers ordered groceries online from a nearby store as a direct result of the pandemic. Interestingly, 19% of over-65s did this too, adapting new technologies and habits in the process.

Brands that have embraced quick commerce, or q-commerce, have been the biggest beneficiaries of this new behaviour.

What is quick commerce?

Quick commerce is the next step in the evolution of eCommerce and, as the name suggests, it’s all about speed. Quick commerce generally means consumers can expect delivery within one hour of placing an order.

This may seem like a very short timeline but quick commerce is usually reserved for small orders, rather than the weekly grocery shop. Consumers might purchase a product they unexpectedly ran out of or an ingredient they need for making today’s dinner.

To get their orders out as soon as possible, retailers rely on online ordering systems, local warehouses and a delivery team on two wheels.

When you think about it, quick commerce is nothing new. It has been used in the takeaway food industry for many years. With eCommerce brands consistently cutting delivery times, it was just a matter of time before consumers could get other products delivered to their doorstep without delay.

The benefits of quick commerce

While quick commerce brings the benefit of ultra-fast service to customers, there are plenty of perks for brands who take advantage of it too. We’ve listed three of the top advantages of quick commerce for brands below:

1. A competitive USP

Q-commerce provides businesses with a new value proposition, which can really set them apart from competitors. Customers in need of immediate delivery may be willing to try new products and order from new stores.

The added convenience that comes with quick commerce offers online retailers a way to compete with large multinational marketplaces, like Amazon, as well as brick-and-mortar stores.

2. The potential for greater margins

Quick commerce holds a lot of potential profit for those who take advantage of it. 

One study from Deloitte suggests that, during the pandemic, 50% of shoppers spent extra money to conveniently get what they needed. They paid extra for on-demand fulfillment, as well as buy online pickup instore (BOPIS) options.

Because q-commerce is associated with a smaller selection of products, retailers can also use this opportunity to drive sales for their most profitable lines.

It’s also worth noting that convenience often appeals to wealthier demographics. For example, time-strapped professionals and business leaders tend to value convenience more than discounts.

3. Providing the ultimate customer experience

As consumer expectations grow, quick commerce can help online retailers meet and exceed them. This, in turn, will foster brand loyalty.

The customer pain points that quick commerce addresses are often meaningful. It can save a party host who has run out of food. It can help an uncle who has forgotten to buy his niece a birthday present. Or it can simply help someone who can’t make it to the shop to stock up on essentials.

There are many situations where the convenience of q-commerce can reduce stress and maybe even avert disaster. How could customers be anything but satisfied?

How to implement quick commerce

Quick commerce is a must for brands that target professionals and older people. It also makes complete sense for CPG brands with broader audiences. But, eventually, all consumers will come to expect the availability of super-fast delivery, so it’s a good idea to start implementing a system of q-commerce now.

Here are three essential steps for your quick commerce to-do list:

1. Set up local hubs

If you want to pick, pack and deliver products in less than an hour, you need to be located pretty close to your customers. For this reason, quick commerce relies on local warehouses which can serve people in the immediate proximity.

Most quick commerce delivery services are based in cities and employ their own community of riders to deliver products. The duration of two-wheeled deliveries are less likely to be impacted by heavy traffic. They don’t have to find parking spaces either.

Alternatively, businesses can enlist the help of local partners or third-party services. For example, Deliveroo and Uber Eats have both made their services available to supermarkets.

In China, Alibaba has taken a unique approach by opening hundreds of brick-and-mortar ‘Fema’ stores. These act as quick commerce hubs that deliver in under 30 minutes. But they also offer other omnichannel services, such as collection points and in-store scanning which can be combined with online payment.

2. Carefully choose your q-commerce stock

Right now, quick commerce works best for some specific product niches. Immediate delivery makes sense for food, drinks, cosmetics and other CPG products that consumers use every day.

Gifts and medicine are also ideal for quick commerce delivery. And, with the rise of working from home, office supplies and electronics are also excellent candidates.

3. Ensure you have the right software in place

To make q-commerce work for your business, it’s essential to have a real-time inventory management tool. This will facilitate speed and efficiency, while also ensuring your online stock information is accurate.

It can also prevent stockouts, which could hurt sales, and deadstock, which could really run up storage costs in high-priced urban warehouses.

Reporting tools, like eTail Monitoring, provide stock level oversight across your entire retailer network, so stock can be reordered or redistributed without delay. It also allows logistics teams to see which products sell best through your quick commerce delivery networks. Retailers can then optimize their offerings.

The fast future of eCommerce

The Covid-19 pandemic has completely disrupted consumer shopping behaviour. Though some consumers will return to shop in-store, others will likely stick with shopping online due to convenience.

The use of quick commerce has accelerated, but it was already on the rise pre-pandemic. Now, these newly formed habits aren’t going anywhere. As quick commerce services expand, the number of products that are in demand will grow too.

New technological advancements, like drone delivery and machine learning, will nurture this change too. Because of drones, greater areas will be reachable within an hour, delivery times will be more reliable and the introduction of quick commerce will cost less. Companies like Uber are already working to introduce these cutting-edge innovations.

Final thoughts

Quick commerce is a relatively new term and, to date, it is an opportunity that has largely remained untapped in eCommerce. But as consumers demand more convenient options, quick commerce will grow.

While it can be difficult to know if it’s right for your business right now, testing it out won’t require too much investment. You can introduce it to one region at a time, ironing out kinks in the system, assessing the results and adapting your strategy to suit the local area.

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