Sarah's column appears in Marketing Communication News
My name is Sarah and I’m a Prime addict.
Admit it: you are too. We’re all hooked on the sugar-rush thrill of one-click deliveries. And the cult of speed is about to get faster. With the upcoming launch of Air Prime, deliveries will land by drone just 30 minutes after you click. About time. I mean, who has time to wait for next day delivery? Because when you’ve decided you need a fabric shaver it can’t wait. Our purchase decisions are often made through the ‘now, next day or never’ filter.
This kind of rising consumer expectation is having an impact on every sector. BUILT/ is a radical new start-up from Travis Perkins that’s reinventing the building supplies market. It’s a digitally enabled builders’ merchant with speed and efficiency at its heart. It includes a Lock & Load service for time-pressed builders that makes it possible for them to order anywhere, then pick up their goods from Formula 1‑style service bay crews at pre-arranged times so they can be back on-site – and earning again – as quickly as possible.
The image of builders ambling along the aisles thinking about their next chocolate digestive is as out of date as the idea of housewives doing the weekly shop along bustling high streets. This isn’t the Seventies; everyone’s in a hurry.
But what’s interesting is that in some areas it’s going the other way. Fast isn’t always best. Deliberately slowing down a brand experience to produce something calmer, unhurried and more reflective is sometimes the right thing to do.
I bought some seeds the other day. I went to Amazon, expecting their usual super-quick service, but they were out of stock, so I turned to a small nursery. Several days after I placed my order, the postman arrived with a lovely old-fashioned envelope – the sort your grandparents used to send letters in. Opening it, I found my pack of seeds, together with a hand-written note and a second, different seed pack that they felt went well with the ones I’d bought. It was the horticultural world’s totally organic version of ‘you’ve bought that, so you might like this’.
The whole thing was a delightful experience – a refreshing little reminder of mindfulness – and all the better for the anticipation that gently built as I waited for my delivery.
There are signs of this creeping into the workplace. I was with a big corporate client recently and they were telling me how they’re trying to encourage conversations between their staff by adding more ‘casual collisions’ into their working day. One of our ideas was to replace the office espresso machines with pour-over coffee bars, making room for three-minute conversations as people wait for their drinks. We think we want our coffee fast; we must get on – people to see, empires to build and all that – but maybe it doesn’t always have to be instantaneous coffee.
This deliberate slowing down reminds me of my yoga classes, which I usually get to just in time after running from the tube. Before entering the changing rooms, you’re asked to stop and take off your shoes in reception. This simple transition from hot-footing it across the city to feeling my unclad feet against the wooden floor acts like a speed bump between a hectic day and a more mindful, reflective state.
It’s easy to be swept up by the relentless rush all around us but for every time-pressed builder and Prime junkie looking anxiously at the letterbox, there’s a gardener loving the personal touch or an office worker wanting a chat. Faster isn’t always better. Let’s not allow our Prime urges to blind us to that.