The importance of having a quality fulfilment operation when it comes to delivery of big-ticket items was brought into sharp relief for me this week.

The importance of having a quality fulfilment operation when it comes to delivery of big-ticket items was brought into sharp relief for me this week.

I was on the hunt for a mattress and, for one reason or another, was in rather a rush to get it delivered.

I did a bit of research online but, when it comes to anything that I rest my head or indeed my bum on, I like to try before I buy.

So off I went to a highly recommended indie where the shopping experience was rather lovely – relaxed, helpful and far from pushy – and the product was great too. However, there was a sticking point – delivery would take two weeks. Ordinarily this would have been acceptable, but in my rush to get it delivered, I had to look elsewhere.

The next day I stopped off at a very well-known multiple bed specialist on Tottenham Court Road where I was impressed with the service. Just like the indie, the sales assistant was informative without being overbearing. He took me around the store, showing me the selection that best suited my needs.

I found a mattress that I wanted. Then came the all-important question: ‘How soon can you deliver?’

And this is where the multiple players – in this case Dreams – often beat their independent rivals; the sales assistant said he could deliver it on the exact day I needed it. What’s more, he would do it for free.

The mattress cost a bit more than the one I was eyeing at the indie – and there was little difference in the quality – but I was willing to pay more for the convenience of having it delivered speedily.

There’s a lesson in here about where retail chiefs need to invest to give them a critical competitive advantage and, no doubt, a fulfilling night’s sleep.

  • Nicola Harrison is news editor ar Retail Week