Quick commerce (q-commerce): online order deliveries in under an hour
Quick commerce (or q-commerce), considered the third generation of commerce, arose as a result of the evolution of e-commerce. Easy access to products and high competitiveness have led to increasingly demanding customers. With the arrival of quick commerce, deliveries have gone from being fast to ultrafast: the orders are prepared, sent, and delivered in a matter of hours or even minutes.
So, how does this change affect consumer habits on a logistics level? What are the differences between e-commerce and q-commerce? We’ll answer these questions and more in this post.
What’s quick commerce?
Q-commerce or quick commerce is the latest trend in e-commerce. It’s noted for pushing the envelope when it comes to two factors relating to online sales: speed and convenience in order deliveries.
Generally speaking, it’s characterised by offering customers small quantities of products practically instantly, whenever and wherever they need them. Customers are changing their purchasing habits and are starting to give more weight to speed, delivery efficiency, and customer service than a possible discount or free delivery.
In the beginning, quick commerce came about as a response to the demand for urgent supplies of staples such as food, cleaning goods, and personal care products. The lockdown resulting from the coronavirus pandemic then definitively consolidated q-commerce as a practically indispensable strategy for some companies. In the near future, this modality will most likely extend to other sectors.
7 q-commerce characteristics in logistics
Quick commerce has affected logistics in a number of ways. These are some of its key features:
- 1) Extremely quick delivery times. Consumers expect to receive the products they bought in a very short time (approximately one hour).
- 2) Local delivery. To deliver the product in so little time, it needs to be distributed from a point close to the consumer.
- 3) Last-mile optimisation. There’s no use in preparing and dispatching the order efficiently if, at the last minute, the delivery process is excessively delayed.
- 4) Smaller facilities. Warehouse capacity is smaller since the variety of SKUs marketed is more limited. This cuts down on storage costs and ensures that the available SKUs are efficiently supplied.
- 5) Complex goods handling. The products managed in quick commerce are varied in nature, which complicates handling compared to always working with the same type of SKU. Q-commerce goods can include delicate foodstuffs that can’t receive strong impacts or bear heavy weight on top of them and flammable elements requiring specific precautions to be taken.
- 6) Speedy order preparation. Few orders are prepared, and each contains few products. This helps to streamline this operation to ensure delivery in a question of hours or minutes.
- 7) Perpetual stock availability. The company must have the product on hand the moment the customer orders it.
These characteristics compel businesses to analyse their operations exhaustively and continuously make improvements to shave off seconds that could turn out to be vital with such tight delivery times.
Differences between e-commerce and q-commerce
The particular characteristics of q-commerce become clearer when compared to e-commerce:
|Stock availability||Wide variety of products||Small selection of products|
|Transportation||Delivery truck||Two-wheel vehicle|
|Warehouse type||Central warehouse||Physical store or small local warehouse|
Another difference can be added to these: quick commerce usually involves more spur-of-the-moment purchases, meaning a lower volume in terms of both product quantity and order price. On the other hand, e-commerce, with longer shipping times, tends to be more planned. This results in a higher average expenditure per purchase as well as more diverse purchases (more disparate SKUs, potentially many units per order, etc.).
Lastly, there are also certain differences between customer types: q-commerce users tend to be young people — who live alone, with their partner, or in a shared apartment — willing to try out new services. Meanwhile, e-commerce profiles are more varied and somewhat more traditional (families and older people, for example, although young people, of course, can also be e-commerce users).
Q-commerce logistics solutions
Companies working in quick commerce require small warehouses with a reduced storage capacity. Products are deposited in the store itself, in a dark store, or in a micro-warehouse with pallet racks or picking shelves.
Against this backdrop, the implementation of a warehouse management system (WMS) is especially important. Having a WMS that’s perfectly in sync with the sales platforms is essential to record each new order that enters the system and to guarantee agility in deliveries.
Easy WMS, the warehouse management system from Mecalux, features two different modules that help to optimise q-commerce logistics management. One is WMS for Ecommerce, which ensures the scalability of e-commerce businesses. The other is Store Fulfillment, which controls inventory across the warehouse and physical store(s) in real time. Moreover, the Marketplaces & Ecommerce Platforms Integration module syncs Easy WMS with the software of the major marketplaces and e-commerce platforms to speed up the management of new orders.
The importance of now
Online shopping, which, unquestionably, is here to stay, is gradually becoming more sophisticated with the aim of adapting to new lifestyle and consumer habits. Speed and comfort are more important than ever, having gone from a luxury to a need.
Q-commerce is the result of the natural evolution of e-commerce, and many companies have been forced to adopt this modality to continue satisfying its customers. If you think your company’s logistics operations need that push to be able to perform effectively in such a competitive digital environment, don’t hesitate to contact Mecalux. Our team will give you personalised advice as to which storage and management system will best suit your needs.