Is the “White Glove Delivery” business a fad or is it here to stay?

The other day I went to Best Buy and purchased a new washer and dryer.  I shopped around and the models I ended up buying were for the best price.  The price even beat Amazon’s price.  So, I bought them and since I am in the trucking business I was expecting them to ask me for the option to either pick them up myself or set up a for a White Glove Delivery for a fee of course.  I was expecting to pay around $100 to $200 for White Glove Delivery.  At the checkout I was not given an option and the lady simply told me that White Glove Delivery was free and that I only needed to pick a date for delivery.  So of course, I am not going to ask her to charge me more for a delivery fee but I was shocked.  I don’t think anyone that is not in the trucking business would be as shocked as I was but I could not help but to think how is Best Buy making any money on this transaction.  Clearly the cost of transportation is calculated in the price but how can they sell it for so cheap.  It is either they are paying the White Glove company almost nothing to do the job or they got the appliances from the manufacturer for almost nothing.  But since at Point 2 Point Logistics we deliver for similar companies, I can say with confidence that it’s the White Glove Delivery company that is taking the punch for this.  So it begs the question: is White Glove Delivery, which seems to become a convenience that customers love, going to be a viable business or just fade away?

What is White Glove Delivery?

To understand White Glove Delivery one needs to understand what Last mile Delivery is (See the Last Mile Delivery Supply Chain below).  Years ago before furniture retailers decided to really pamper their customers, you had to go to a store, buy your furniture and have it delivered.  Once you place your order, the dispatcher in the warehouse would be alerted to ship you the item.  A truck driver would then load their trucks with a bunch of other furniture (including yours) to be delivered to you “curbside”.  Then depending on how bulky the item is you might need to have someone come help you set it up.  Slowly retailers realized the hassle it created for their customers to install their own furniture and appliances and in an effort to wow their customers they added another leg to Last Mile Delivery which is White Glove Delivery as a perk to their clients.  White Glove Delivery started with bulky high-ticket price items like sofas and today almost every retailer from affordable furniture stores like Conn’s to high end stores like Restoration Hardware all provide White Glove Delivery as a part of their last mile delivery.

 White Glove Delivery Operation

Although White Glove is a part of Last Mile Delivery, it requires a different type of operation than just dropping an item curbside.  If Last Mile Delivery only needed one driver per truck with a dolly, White Glove Delivery operation needs 2 workers and sometimes 3 as needed for the entire route.  These employees must have all the requirements as before but for White Glove Deliveries, they also need to have great customer service skills, they need to be experienced movers and experienced at installing the newest appliances and furniture.  In addition, the White Glove Delivery Company needs to have a warehouse to receive the items.  Therefore, White Glove Delivery is not a cheap service for retailers to offer to their clients but it adds value to retailers that don’t have a showroom.

Why would a shipper decide to offer White Glove Delivery?

With ecommerce gaining ground in the area of large bulky items, competition in the world of furniture is fierce and in short that is why White Glove Delivery can be used as a way for retailers to differentiate themselves.  A robust White Glove Delivery network can fulfill consumer’s desire for instant gratification.  As depicted in our Last Mile Delivery Supply Chain chart above, White Glove Delivery can be used effectively by furniture retailers to reduce repair claims from their clients and/or avoid paying for reverse logistics.  Reducing furniture returns is done by the White Glove Delivery company through a receiving process called “deluxing”. Deluxing is the process of receiving a furniture from a carrier, inspecting it for imperfections and document the condition of the furniture to the retailer before it is delivered.  If there is an imperfection, the retailer is alerted.  The White Glove Delivery company should be equipped with the right personnel to repair the item if the retailer decides to do so which in turn saves them from the hassle of getting the furniture returned back to them.

Conclusion

Is the “White Glove Delivery” business a fad or is it here to stay?  Unless you think retailers spoiling their customers is a fad, White Glove Delivery is here to stay and grow.  However, I do think that White Glove Delivery companies will have to be a more integral part of e-retailers and not an afterthought.  White Glove companies should be regarded as a partner and not as a mere dot on the retailer’s supply chain.  After all, selling a furniture does not stop with selling the furniture but rather it stops with the item delivered in good conditions and by professionals who will represent your brand that you worked so hard to acquire and maintain.

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