So the free delivery trial has been with us for around six months. I assume it is still a trial and not officially announced as permanent.
I thought it would be interesting to hear some thoughts on the free delivery offer now it has been with us for a while.
I was initially dubious about the idea from a sustainability point of view, it seemed that the costs for sending an £8 bottle of wine by free courier delivery would be prohibitive. And someone, somewhere has to pay the delivery cost so I was concerned that prices would rise as a result.
That said, I have been very pleased with the free delivery from a purely consumer point of view. It is great hearing people discuss a specific wine and being able to order a single bottle to try. I have used it a lot over the past few months, from everything from buying the rather nice WS Olive Oil to just buying a bottle or two here or there. You want a specific bottle for the weekend, if you order it on Monday it will be with you on Friday. I mean, you can even buy a £3 can of beer and have it delivered for free. It is really an incredibly generous offer.
I have used it a lot and think it is a great addition really from the point of viewing of Members buying wine.
From the WS point of view I suppose whether the policy has been successful is only known to the various finance teams within WS. I think the policy has probably increased the amount I buy although not dramatically and it has certainly spread out those purchases into much smaller deliveries. It has made buying gifts for people a bit of a doddle, pop on the website order a single nice bottle and have it delivered for free to the recipient by Courier. I guess WS will be looking at total bottles brought, how they are purchased (presumably more smaller orders and less big orders) and total spend on delivery during the trial.
There may also be cost savings to be made, perhaps less claims from a case of 12 being smashed on route and perhaps delivery companies prefer and charge less for small bottle deliveries than case deliveries.
I know from the industry that reaction has ranged from perplexed (how on earth can they afford to do that) to almost anger (how on earth can my small wine shop website charging £6.95 for single bottle delivery now compete with WS) and quite how WS manages it and hopefully still retains profit margins without raising prices is a mystery - even Amazon charges a yearly fee for unlimited free delivery.
We also have the slight annoyance whereby you are actually penalised if you place wines into reserve. You want a single bottle ordered from the website - free delivery. You want a single bottle taken from reserves then it is £10 please. Ideally, we’d end up with a system where is is the same whether you want a single bottle from the website or if you want a single bottle taken from reserves (which is surely just the same system but traipsing over to a different warehouse).
Assuming the free delivery system doesn’t result in higher per wine prices (where the delivery fee is simply absorbed into the per bottle pricing) then I hope it remains and I hope it is extended to reserves in the future as well.