dated business models

I’ve been waiting on a parcel to be delivered, eagerly tracking it as it moved around the world from Minesota, via Ohio, Kentucky and now New Zealand.  I can see now that the parcel delivery company (in this case NZ Post) has been to my house

Delivery not made, left a Card to Call, item at depot. Please call us on XXX

I’ve had this before.  The card will say something like ” we will make another attempt to deliver the package, and then you have to pick it up from our local depot”

I’m struck by how wildly ineffecient the process is and how the carrier (and i’m not pointing the finger at NZ Post – well not just them) are abdicating their responsiblity to me…. as invariably they will attempt to deliver the package during the hours of 9am and 5pm.

Their whole business model is based on the data premise that 50% of the population is sitting at home, just like the used to in the [insert decade].

Why instead don’t these companies do some analysis. Data driven probability stuff.

Here’s what i’d do.  Look at my neighbourhood, find out how many people are working age, those that are at home parents, elderly etc. Then take a punt that in all probability, the majority of houses will be unattended during normal working hours.  So why waste time on a delivery. Instead try during the hours of 7am to 8.30 or after 6pm (again the laws of probability state if you work you are lmore likely to be home druing these hours.  The drivers can choose but as they are contracted they can make more on a single delivery than multiple failed attempts.  This isn’t even very sophisticated…

Imagine if the delivery company went all out and asked me when someone would likely be home on average…and stored that in a secure (SECURE) manner.  People are driven by routine, so on average this would vastly reduce the number of failed delivery attempts, resulting in cost savings, less pollution and happier customers…

I’m sure there are other business models like this, i know the internet has changed things somewhat but just occassionally (and normally only on really important occassions) you have to go into places like ….banks that don’t open on the weekend, local government, … why don’t you open when i’m not working??

3 thoughts on “dated business models

  1. Ahh, the mathematical problem that is the “travelling salesman problem” compounded by the variable of “is anyone” home – you are indeed unreasonable 😉
    On a more serious note, simply making delivery drivers efficient is computationally beyond what we can do with current technology (compute power). UPS spend undisclosed sums of money trying to solve this (rumoured tens of millions to date). The approach taken by most is to find an algorithm that approximates the problem – then throw what compute power we have at it.
    What the unreasonable man should be asking is: “Is this whole centralised distribution model run by a single entity the solution?”.
    Personally I don’t know the answer, but I’m not sure that more number crunching is the answer. To really make delivery work for the customer, something radical has to change. Some of the most radical changes we’ve seen lately have been driven by technology and vast social networks e.g. AirBnB, Uber etc.
    Why not the same for delivery? Now there’s an idea… ohh damn, someone’s beaten me to it.

      • A deeply analytical problem doesn’t equal massively over engineered. Just choosing to oversimplify the problem and ignore all other requirements doesn’t mean the current business model is outdated – it just doesn’t meet a new set of requirements you decided to overlay over the existing processes.

        Like I said originally, I’ve no idea how to make deliveries better (I think what you really want), but believe me with this – I’d pick ANY NZ delivery company over the piss arse service we get here in Melbourne; I think that’s why we have so many cafes, somewhere to chill out when EVERYTHING goes missing in the post!

        I don’t think either of us will be happy until someone truly disruptive comes alongs and shakes that whole industry up.

Leave a Reply