Famous Last Words: Rules for Delivery
Last year my sister-in-law sent my wife, Peggy, and me a Christmas gift from a New York City boutique, and it was never delivered. When questioned, the boutique owner said it had been shipped via Federal Express. When queried, FedEx said the package was left on the doorstep. Although I work at home, I must have been out when it was delivered.
Since we live in Center City Philadelphia, the 21st most dangerous and crime-ridden city in America, obviously a passer-by saw the package, looked both ways and made off with it.
FedEx’s excuse: “Nobody said to sign for it. In that case, we always leave it on the doorstep or porch.”
I was incredulous. We are a neighborhood of 18th-century row houses. We all know each other—and we know the regular UPS and FedEx delivery guys. They greet us by name. If a neighbor is not in to receive a package, my doorbell will ring (they know I work out of the house), and the courier will ask me to hold the package and then will leave a note on the door of the intended recipient. Neither the FedEx or UPS guys would dream of leaving a package out in the open for anybody to steal.
My doorbell rang twice in March. I ran down from the fourth floor office and both times found packages left on the front steps—from Amazon.com and the Vermont Country Store. This was nuts. I retrieved the label from the Vermont Country Store package and discovered it was shipped via something called SmartPost. When Googled, SmartPost came up on a FedEx Web site with the following explanation:
About FedEx SmartPost
FedEx SmartPost offers you an efficient, value-oriented, and timely way to ship high volumes of low-weight packages to residential customers. We pick up, sort, line haul, track and deliver your packages to the post offices closest to your customers. The USPS makes the final delivery to the residence. As a result, you reduce transit time, minimize handling, and maximize postal discounts.
Take a look at the very bottom of the label illustration at the bottom of this page, and you will see a line of copy: “Carrier: Leave If No Response.”
Maybe it’s OK to leave a package on the porch in the burbs or the boonies. In the city it will be stolen.
Direct Marketing 101 Rules for Delivery
• Delivery of an order is an exciting event—one of those rare times when you actually touch the customer and have a chance to strengthen the relationship.
• Always include a warm, fuzzy transmittal letter that says thank you for the order and reiterates your ironclad guarantee of satisfaction.
• Always include a catalog or offer of some kind, and make it easy to order. After opening a package, the customer is very likely to be in a buying mood.
• As a matter of fact, never send out any communication of any kind without asking for a response. If nobody responds to a mailing effort, you have no idea whether or not it was delivered. Money wasted.
• Consider setting up a package insert program whereby other mailers can include their offers in your delivered packages. This brings in rental revenue, which is free money.
• Consider using package insert programs of other mailers for your offers.
• Above all, never-oh-never allow a package to be delivered into a high-density ZIP code without requiring a signature. Otherwise, not only could the order be stolen, but also your customer will be unhappy and will shop elsewhere in the future.
Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter. Visit him at www.dennyhatch.com, or contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.