Give ‘Em What They Want: How to Win with New Delivery Options

We quickly found that giving consumers the ability to choose the specific delivery window was hugely popular

Zack Crafton
Zack Crafton

Say you sell a product that customers really look forward to receiving—they anticipate its arrival with barely concealed glee, anticipation, joy and excitement because your product is just that good. If this is you, it sounds like you have the product end worked out. How about delivery?

In your fortunate situation—excited customers and a first-rate product—conventional wisdom would tell you that the best thing to do is to shift your delivery process into warp drive and speed the product to the customer as quickly as possible. But what if it’s the kind of product that requires someone to sign for the package—say, fabulously tasty wines at an affordable price?

In that case, you may run into delivery obstacles. What if your product arrives while your customers are at work or commuting, and instead of a case of wonderful wine to look forward to at the end of the day, they get a sad little missed delivery slip? That could happen—repeatedly—if you make the assumption that customers want speed when they really need convenience.

Prioritizing Convenience over Speed

When my company started looking at new ways to serve our 10,000-member San Francisco customer base (we call them Angels because they aren’t just wine drinkers—they’re investors), at first, we thought customers wanted faster delivery, so we tried same-day shipping.

With that strategy, our wine cases left our Napa facility at 2 p.m. via a traditional delivery service and tended to arrive at Angels’ homes between 5 and 8 p.m. It was super-fast, but many Angels were still commuting at that time. We had a decent delivery record: 81 percent of cases were signed for on the first try, and almost all deliveries were completed in three or fewer attempts. But the truth is, even one missed delivery is frustrating for customers.

So we changed up our strategy and started aiming for convenience first. We gave customers a choice, asking when it would be convenient for them to receive the wine. We still shipped it from our facility, but instead of going directly to Angels’ homes, we had cases delivered to a warehouse in San Francisco and worked with Doorman, which is a tech-driven delivery service similar to Uber, to deliver the cases within the Angels’ preferred two-hour window.

Unlocking the Door to Customer Satisfaction

We quickly found that giving Angels the ability to choose the specific delivery window—a first in the wine industry—was a hugely popular move. It was fast and efficient because we were able to integrate the Doorman service with our supply chain, and delivery software to expedite shipping and get wine to customers when they preferred, upwards of 94 percent of the time.

Our first-time delivery rate shot up to virtually 100 percent, and our Angels—mostly urban-dwelling Millennials in the San Francisco market—are thrilled, especially with the app they can use to reschedule delivery for free if something comes up to delay their arrival home. Now we’re looking at how to deploy Doorman in the many other urban markets we serve.  

Since we started giving customers a choice, people who choose the two-hour delivery window are double the number of customers who select same-day delivery. Our Angels are happier too—we noticed a measurable bump in orders from customers who are able to receive their case on their own terms. And that’s the bottom line: By giving customers what they truly want instead of what we think they need, we made them happier—and that makes us happy, too.

Zack Crafton is the director of operations at