Sexteto Veritango
I spent last weekend at the Brussels Tango Festival, mostly taking pictures of people dancing. Because of the lack of light that is typical for tango events, I had bought a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens online one week before. First at Pixmania, but because they couldn’t deliver fast enough (product not in stock), I cancelled and ordered at Foto Konijnenberg. I expected the package to be delivered in a couple of days. When I didn’t see any sign of delivery and the track&trace URL didn’t work, I contacted Foto Konijnenberg (very friendly and correct customer support, by the way) to ask what was happening. Apparently the transport company had been at my door twice, did however not leave any message, took the package back and at that moment no one could tell me where the package was. We’re now 2 weeks after purchase and still at the same stage: my lens is somewhere in the purgatory between vendor and buyer but the transport company (TNT/DPD) has no clue where.

Apart from the fact that the transporter screwed up their tracking of the package, the whole process of showing up at closed doors and going back seems so inefficient. It’s like so much effort has been spent to smoothen out the process of purchasing online, but the physical delivery still works basically the same as twenty years ago, eventhough the drivers now have wireless devices and you have to sign on an electronic sensor.

Let’s describe how I would have preferred to have my goods delivered:

Package Delivery 2.0

  • When the order ships:
    From: Vendor Customer Support
    To: Peter
    Subject: Your purchase of 22/3/2007
    Dear Mr. Forret,
    
    we thank you for your business! 
    We have just prepared your order and released it for delivery.
    
    The transport will be taken care of by NewDelivery Inc, 
    and you can expect an email from them shortly 
    to allow you to choose the delivery options.
    
    Your package number is #34556554456 and
    you can track it from this moment onwards(*) on
    http://track.newdelivery.com/(...)
    

    (*) The times I have gotten the message: “this is the tracking URL, but it won’t work yet”. If there is a unique tracking ID, then just display “Currently waiting for package to arrive at our depot” or something.

  • From: NewDelivery Customer Support
    To: Peter
    Subject: The delivery of your package #34556554456
    Dear Mr Forret,
    
    We have just received a package for you that 
    we want to deliver at your earliest convenience.
    
    Tomorrow between 9h and 12h one of our drivers
    will be visiting the following delivery address:
    (...) 1000 Brussels
    
    If you will be there to accept the package, 
    there is nothing you should do now.
    
    If, however, that is not the right time/place to deliver, 
    please choose one of the following options
    1) I would like you to come at a later time
    2) I would like you to deliver at a different address 
       (e.g. your office)
    3) I would like to pick up the package 
        at one of the nearby pick-up points
       (see some suggestions further down)
    
    Click the following link if you want to change your delivery options:
    (...)
    
  • Let’s say I change to option “pick up myself”
  • From: NewDelivery
    To: Peter
    Subject: The delivery of your package #34556554456
    Dear Mr Forret,
    
    We have changed the delivery options as you requested.
    
    Your package will be available at the following pickup location:
    [Post Office/Fuel Station/Bookshop/...]
    (...) 1000 Brussels
    
    Don't forget: if you pick up the package within the next 2 days 
    (before March 26, 20h) you will also receive our PearlyPickup surprise gift.
    

    My gift would be something small like a sticker or a gift certificate, but at least I am rewarded for picking up early and helping keep the storage space limited.

  • Or even more sophisticated
    From: NewDelivery
    To: Peter
    Subject: The delivery of your package #34556554456
    Dear Mr Forret,
    
    We have just received a package for you that 
    we want to deliver at your earliest convenience.
    
    Since you already have a package stored at
    [Post Office/Fuel Station/Bookshop/...]
    (...)
    we will let this package join the other.
    
    If, however, that is not the right time/place to deliver, 
    please choose one of the following options
    1) I would like you to come at a later time
    (...)
    

BTF AlbertHall Fri 090
In my opinion, this would streamline the delivery process, keep the costs for unresponded house calls smaller, and give the buyer more confidence in the whole process. There is already a pick-it-up-myself service Kiala that works with bookshops, supermarkets and fuel stations (I use them for Proxis deliveries). But now you have to choose for either that mechanism or the delivery by a courrier, whereas it’s easier to choose the best formula once you know which day the package would be delivered. The Belgian Post could only deliver such a full service when the post offices would stay open until 18h or 19h, so that people that are not retired or unemployed would also have a chance to use them. To me, current practices leave something to be desired.

BTF AlbertHall Sat 087