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Heavyweight shipments present a whole variety of unique delivery challenges. Shippers must be able to move large items through multiple terminals, not to mention deliver into areas of a home that might be hard to reach. In the case of items such as hot tubs, that might entail removing a fence or deploying a crane to get into a tight space.
Customers are no less demanding when it comes to service quality, says Hourigan. The carrier might be required to perform light assembly or remove packing materials. Unlike in the case of small parcels, such services often entail an extra charge, which the buyer is willing to pay.
There's a whole other set of challenges at the other end of the delivery. In most cases, recycling of shipping materials – pallets, cardboard, shrinkwrap – is required. Proper management of that element of the supply chain can provide substantial cost savings while having a positive impact on the environment, Hourigan says.
Customer feedback is also important. BuildDirect polls buyers about the experience of receiving every order it delivers. It does not utilize the driver for that purpose, however, on the theory that it’s difficult to get accurate responses on the day of delivery.
All of the company's business is driven by online orders. Hourigan says the heavyweight home-delivery market is huge, valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars, although many customers have yet to rely on the online option. That sector is beginning to accelerate, though, as buyers become accustomed to using the internet for large items. "The market is changing considerably," he says.
For delivery of heavyweight items, speed is less important than reliability and fair pricing, Hourigan says.
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