Saturday 18th Nov 2017 - Logistics Manager

The walrus and the retailer

There is something surreal about the story of the penguins and the walrus, and how they got a major retailer into hot water. But it could have significant implications for supply chain professionals dealing with the growth in home delivery.

Argos has fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority as a result of an advertisement featuring said cute creatures. Of course, what really caused the problems was the statement that: “With over 1500 lorries, we can deliver what you want at a time slot that’s right for you”.

A total of three viewers complained, saying that this implied that customers could specify delivery times of their own choosing, but what Argos was really offering was morning or afternoon delivery slots.

And, despite Argos’s protestations, the ASA upheld the complaint and ruled that the ad was misleading.

The growth in online retail is relentless. Only last week, it was estimated that consumers would spend almost £1bn more online in the run-up to Christmas than the £5.5bn they spent last year.

And as the level of home delivery increases, companies are likely to be challenged more and more over their delivery promises – especially if they try, as Argos did, to use them as a competitive weapon.

So the attitude of the Advertising Standards Authority is clearly going to have an impact.

The ASA accepted Argos’s case that it did indeed offer a range of delivery slots, and that the ad clearly said: “Terms, delivery charges and exclusions apply.”

Nevertheless, it took the view that to justify the claim, Argos should deliver at a time specified by the customer.

That’s a pretty hard line to take. The implication is that if companies are going to make claims about their delivery services, then they should live up to the widest possible interpretation.