Home delivery of goods ordered online is rapidly evolving in the United States—illuminating possible forthcoming opportunities in other countries where e-commerce has also shown brisk growth. In the US, consumers may already be receiving online orders as fast as they want, and delivery is often free. So, consumers are turning their attention to what’s next: ordering bigger, bulkier, perishable, and more valuable products online. These items present more complex delivery challenges that sometimes require value-added services, such as set-up and installation in consumers’ residences.

All of this opens new doors—both figuratively and literally—for online retailers and their logistics services providers. For instance, companies that can get their personnel to interact directly with customers stand a better chance of strengthening brand perceptions and selling additional services that can command a handsome fee.

But this same opportunity comes with a catch: to meet consumers’ rising demand for these bigger and more complex products and more sophisticated home-delivery services—and to do it profitably—companies need access to personnel who have the knowledge and skills required to perform these new services. This new class of home-delivery agents will become brand ambassadors. And in many competitive labor markets today, bringing them onboard and retaining them could prove challenging.

Since 2014, AlixPartners has surveyed online shoppers in the United States to uncover trends in what they’re ordering online for home delivery—including products they’re buying, delivery services they’re selecting, and their thoughts and feelings about those services. This year, we expanded our study to include five key home-delivery markets in addition to the US: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, and Japan. (See “About our research” in the PDF.)


By comparing consumers’ responses from all six markets, we’ve uncovered trends at both the international and local levels—some surprising, others counterintuitive. Understanding these trends can help online retailers and their home-delivery logistics providers craft smarter strategies for succeeding in each market.