The Evolution of Convenience

For quite some time now, we’ve been associating convenience with delivery and speed, and this has been prevalent in Kuwait. Every merchant or new business in Kuwait touts convenience as their value proposition – and that, more often than not, means delivery. What ends up happening is the business owner makes an app (or uses Instagram if they’re a home business), and that app becomes the interface between the customer and the business. Everything else that happens offline is through a delivery service. We’ve accepted that, at least in Kuwait, as the most convenient method of interaction with a business. But what if that were no longer true?

The talk that challenged

It struck me by surprise, then, when Prof. Scott Galloway talked about click-and-collect as this emerging trend in the US. (Note: I highly recommend checking his full talk at Code Commerce 2018 once you’re done reading here.) The idea, as the name suggests, is that you’d use an interface with a business/ merchant (through app, website, or Instagram) to click and select whatever it is you wanted to purchase, and then you’d collect it at a store or public box perhaps. This trend is the result of people regularly being away from their homes for the majority of the day. It sucks to come home to a yellow sticky on your door that says “we’ve missed you” indicating that a courier service had attempted to deliver something but wasn’t able to since no one was home. In the US, Walmart seems to be taking full advantage of that (especially that they are notoriously known for having a horrible in-store experience).

This idea of click-and-collect, then, seems to be the new equivalent of convenience. According to Prof. Scott’s talk, it’s been slowly gaining popularity for a few years now. Switching over to Kuwait, I don’t see any business (besides that is doubling down on that trend. Delivery is still the equivalent of convenience for us in Kuwait.

Click and collect vs. delivery: fight

The reason I’m talking about this contrast between click-and-collect in the US and delivery in Kuwait, is because these systems are the result of consumer behavior. More importantly, systems are ripe for innovation when consumer behavior changes. If consumers in Kuwait start to follow suit and feel that delivery isn’t necessarily the most convenient way to interact with a business, then businesses and merchants need to adapt.

As every change in behavior and consequent shifts in markets, things develop gradually. Some sectors would evolve to new ways of interaction before others. Several years ago I started my first business: a laundry startup. Like everyone else, we were touting convenience as our value proposition. We’d collect and deliver people’s laundry straight to their doors. Our primary offering was a flat-rate laundry bag, and it was targeted at newly weds and those living in apartments. More often than we’d like, our customers weren’t available when we’d scheduled them for delivery. This created a backlog for our driver, and naturally increased costs on us. Furthermore, customers themselves were starting to complain that their scheduled window doesn’t always work for them. We were providing the utmost convenience with pre-scheduled delivery windows door-to-door, but it seemed … inconvenient!

What if?

What if we had a centralized shop where people would collect their clothes from lockers for example. A place where they’d pass by after work, input their locker code, and collect their items? This would drastically change our assets and logistics. We’d require less drivers and improve our efficiency since our driver would only be delivering to that centralized location. I wonder if Kuwait will slowly evolve to a market that values click-and-collect over delivery. What do you think? Do you see it happening? As a customer, would it be more convenient for you to collect items on your way at your own time or have them delivered to your doorstep?

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