In a time of instant gratification where people are used to getting what they want, when they want it, it’s imperative for companies to go back to the drawing board. They need to think about remapping their customers five W’s (Who, What Where, When & Why). More than ever it’s important for brands to take stock of how consumers are using their products and rethink what channels can help satisfy their need at exactly the right time. With online retail sales in 2017 estimated to grow by 14% in the UK, according to IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, these challenges will become a bigger part of both brands and retailers’ businesses.

Companies need to start thinking like consumers and, with this hat on, devise the best options for them. Despite what we might tell ourselves, people don’t go online and think “what can I get delivered right now?” Consumers look at their current needs and determine what delivery method fits that need. More and more, people are demanding that brands and retailers work together to cater to their increasingly particular and varying circumstances in a seamless fashion. People don’t care about the complexities of multichannel inventory strategies or how much more efficient it is to deliver using milkman-style delivery routes, and they shouldn’t have to. For consumers, the priority is receiving the right product at the delivery time of their choice.

Immediate last-mile delivery is probably the best example (if not the most expensive) of the retail industry’s attempt at trying to give the consumer more control and choice. But it doesn’t have to stop at offering 30 minute delivery. Both brands and retailers need to start thinking about consumer needs at the beginning of the consumer journey and then start tailoring their offer in ways that fits with the consumer’s requirements.

For example, you have three friends coming over to watch the game in an hour? No problem –a case of chilled Corona, Doritos and a couple frozen pizzas will be delivered in 60 minutes via Prime Now. Or, looking for something uniquely special for your wife and willing to wait a little? Perfect! Farfetch’s global curated sourcing is available and can be delivered to your local Doddle shop for collection at your convenience. Granted, these are all very specific examples, but it’s this type of consumer customisation that people are starting to expect more and more.

Customising and accommodating according to the customer’s schedule is no longer a nice to have. It’s a necessity born by an ever-more demanding millennial generation. Gone are the days of delivery notices – consumers just won’t accept such an archaic level of service. Retailers like Amazon have pioneered delivery customisation with a need-state first mentality. Now they offer multiple formats (such as Core, Pantry, Fresh, Prime Now, Student, Mothers) under one banner to help fulfil the widest breath of consumer needs. Most of the time people don’t even realise they’ve entered essentially a different channel. This type of customisation means consumers not only want this level of service, but expect it – if retailers don’t provide them with this; they risk customers taking their business elsewhere.

This challenge isn’t just a problem faced by retailers. Retailers and brands will need to work closer than ever before to map out consumer missions, all the while balancing the economic cost of these new propositions. With retailers regularly citing eCommerce delivery costs as one of their most challenging hurdles, it will take strong partnerships to strike a balance between consumer demands and economic feasibility. While retailers are rethinking their consumer journeys and logistics networks, brands need to do their part and rethink how their product will be consumed and tailored to the best channel to deliver it.

We’ve now irreversibly turned the corner on a world which has embraced delivery customisation and enhanced convenience. It’s all about getting what you want, when you want it. It’s now up to the leaders of both brands and retailers to work closer than ever before to execute on this vision. Failing to do so will mean you risk falling behind the crowd. 

Trevor Stunden is eCommerce strategy manager at ZX Ventures.