When it comes to first-world problems, online deliveries that suck is a pretty big one. You never realize how critical good service is until you find yourself awaiting your purchase, only to be notified (or not) that it’s been rescheduled to another day.
“Consumers look at deliveries in a similar way to oxygen,” says May Walter. “You only feel it once you’re suffocating.”
And Walter certainly knows what she’s talking about. The CTO of Bond, an Israeli-founded post-purchase company operating in New York, she knows a thing or two about people’s experiences awaiting packages.
“The delivery world is flourishing due to the fact that people are ordering much more online and the market is becoming used to delivery that’s quick and instant,” she says.
“We’re giving brands full control of the process all the way to their customers being happy,” she adds. “An amazing user experience and not only one that’s not bad – that’s really the great uniqueness.”
Bond grew out of Israeli fruit and vegetable delivery company Shookit, which offers same-day delivery via nano-distribution centers inside cities. That system cuts the costs of traversing busy city centers with heavy trucks and allows smart management of the goods.
“We understood that there’s a sort of operating system here, a different way to manage the world of deliveries,” Walter says. “Since it allowed us to be very, very close to our customers, we were able to respond much faster and in a much more accurate manner and give our clients the experience we offer of deliveries that arrive on time and in good quality.”
Upon realizing that this operating system can go far beyond produce, the people behind Shookit set up Bond, an American company with R&D in Israel.
Now operating in New York City, Bond runs along with a similar model of nano-distribution centers and a smart algorithm that keeps them stocked with goods according to the areas in which they’re located.
Bond started operating in New York with about 10 retailers that included suppliers of flowers, wine and even salmon. As the corona crisis grew, its activity expanded to meet daily needs such as meal kits, pet food and coffee.
“It’s precisely at times like these that there’s much more value to accurate delivery experiences. People have enough uncertainty without needing to consider deliveries,” Walter tells ISRAEL21c.
“Adjustments are of course being made to work in the safest way and to meet the regulations, but we’re definitely working and in significantly high volume.”
“We analyze the neighborhoods we’re located at and understand the needs and trends there in order to be ready, predict demand and be able to immediately supply it,” Walter says. “This way I can use very little space inside the city and still deliver a good, quality service.”
For example, Bond’s algorithm will predict that in neighborhoods with many young families, children’s clothes will be in demand. Or that in winter, swimsuits won’t be a hot item.
Looking at past trends also helps in providing the most precise service, says Walter.
“The beauty of this technology is that we analyze usage and purchase patterns in a way that it almost doesn’t matter what the actual product is.”
This analysis of locale-based trends is anonymous and doesn’t infringe on privacy, Walter explains, but it still enables a concise understanding of what will be wanted where and when.
The challenge, she notes, is “knowing to choose the right features for both the best prediction of demand and the operation’s best time – to work both well and accurately.”
As a post-purchase company, Bond adds a range of possibilities and experiences to the delivery process – like, for instance, adding a balloon to the package or scheduling trackable drop-offs and return pickups directly with the customer.
“This is very valuable for brands,” Walter says. “It can help with a very difficult problem – 60 percent of people have some sort of negative experience during post-purchase.”
Another option Bond is now piloting lets the retailer offer a choice of products to the customer at their doorstep. The idea is to cut down on the tiresome process of returning items and purchasing new ones.
For example, customers buying reading glasses online won’t have to order new green ones because the blue ones they brought don’t suit them. Instead, a Bondr (that’s the nickname for a Bond delivery person) will present them with both the green and the blue and will simply take back the ones they like less.
This sort of personal, personalized service, Walter believes, will become more necessary as people become used to a fast-paced, efficient online retail world. Despite all the advantages of ecommerce, advantages that have become rapidly apparent during the corona crisis, people are still apprehensive about completely relying on it.
“If I need something for tomorrow that’s otherwise irrelevant, I won’t order it today, I’m not secure in the knowledge that it will be there,” Walter says. “I’ll go to the store and buy it. This is one of the things we’d like to resolve.”
The cost to retailers starts at $10 per package; various pricing models are available.
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