The Container Store is upgrading its home delivery offering with help from a third-party platform.
The home storage and organization products retailer is in the early stages of a planned national rollout of last-mile delivery service Dolly. The Container Store launched Dolly in spring 2018 with a small pilot in Denver.
“We had no delivery service of our own in Denver,” said Paul de Freitas, director of store operations for The Container Store, during a conversation with Chain Store Age. “But we had been providing an installation service for about 15 years. The outside delivery service we were using was a transient business; keeping drivers on staff and having them learn our business was proving challenging. We wanted a delivery alternative that would produce a better service experience for the customer.”
When The Container Store initially rolled out Dolly, it did not integrate any of the delivery provider’s technology. The retailer partnered with Dolly through the company’s website and app.
“We sold Dolly delivery services as a partnership,” said de Freitas. “We did not do booking for them, we were removed from the service side. Delivery is not our core competency – we are a retailer.”
This approach meant that initially, The Container Store did not use the Dolly retail console, a store-specific website that enables store staff and management to receive alerts when a customer makes a booking with Dolly.
“Sometimes Dolly would show up to get a delivery and the store didn’t have order ready,” explained de Freitas. “They would have to call the customer and reschedule.”
Now The Container Store receives alerts when an order is placed or changed by a customer, helping drive what de Freitas termed a “positive experience” for everyone involved.
“There has been a significant improvement in the customer service experience,” said de Freitas. “We have gotten phenomenal customer satisfaction scores. Scratching a door is about the worst thing that has happened so far, and Dolly took care of it. The average customer rating is 4.9 out of five stars. There has been one rating below three stars because they were late.”
Currently, The Container Store offers Dolly delivery services at stores in Denver, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. By the end of the year, the retailer intends to also provide Dolly at stores in Florida, northern and southern California, Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland.
Looking ahead, de Freitas said The Container Store is in conversations with Dolly about implementing APIs on its e-commerce site that would enable customers to seamlessly click and add Dolly delivery to their online checkout. The companies are also discussing the possibility of sharing specific information on delivery order size.
“Retail value has been the proxy we use for order size,” said de Freitas. “Mostly, people order home delivery of our custom shelving products. There are component parts with a lot of steel, delivered in 30-to-70-pound bundles for installation. Some delivery orders are for smaller items, but by and large it’s customers buying big stuff.”