Back to The Automobile in Chicago
Motor Age, February 2, 1911
MARSHALL Field & Co. have in Chicago one of the most remarkable delivery systems in the world. Inside the store and on the road every device is used to expedite delivery. It is a common saying that when a purchase is made at Field’s the goods often reach the house before the customer can get home. From the different selling floors the parcels are dropped down a spiral chute to the basement. Here they slide out upon traveling belts that carry them past sorters, who pick them out and throw them upon other belts for different sections of the city. Other sorters take them from these belts and throw them into large trunks behind them. The trunks are numbered to correspond with certain blocks or areas in the different sections of the city, and they stand on hand trucks.
As soon as a trunk is full the top is closed and locked, the truck is run out to the loading platform and the trunk put aboard a large 3-ton truck with others.
Trunk Delivery System
In from half an hour to an hour the truckload of trunks reaches a distributing station in an outlying part of the city, where the trunks are thrown off and a load of empties taken on. Horse-drawn wagons now take the trunks and, without removing the packages, they start out on the delivery routes. Each trunk has been filled with packages for a certain street or block, so that it is not necessary to open more than one or two at a time. From the time they leave the store until they are removed in the delivery wagon not a package is handled individually. So none can get lost or slip from the wrapping, and the wrapping can not get soiled.
Formerly the trunks for suburban places, such as Evanston and Oak Park, were hauled by horse-drawn trucks to the railroad stations and sent by express, to be distributed locally by light wagons. But since the equipment of motor trucks was installed the railroad service has been discontinued to such nearby suburbs, and the store depends entirely upon the power wagons.
There is only one improvement that can be suggested. That is, the use of light motor delivery wagons in place of the horse outfits at the distributing stations Undoubtedly this has been considered al ready by the management and will follow in time. As it is, one of the 3-ton trucks is able to keep from one dozen to twenty of the horse wagons busy constantly with local work.
Rapid Service Maintained
Just one little story in this connection will show how much a delivery system be comes a real asset to a store. A Chicago business man went to Field’s one day and ordered a mahogany desk for his study at home in Rogers Park. He did not know the exact length of the space it was to occupy, but asked the store to send it out and if it fitted he would keep it. Upon returning to his office about 2 o’clock the purchaser received a telegram calling him out of the city. He at once got Field’s on the telephone and said that if they could get the desk to his house before 4 p.m. he would take it, otherwise not to make the delivery. Taking a train for Rogers Park about an hour later, he arrived home at 3:30, and found that the desk was in the house.
In addition to their truck service, Marshall Field & Co. maintain a fleet of light delivery wagons which really are Packard pleasure cars with panel top bodies. These machines are designed wholly for rapid delivery service, such as carrying out small purchases which necessarily must be rushed. It is remarkable the time these machines made and it often is the case that the purchaser arrives home to find that the bundles are already there.
Marshall Field trucks on exhibit during the 1911 Chicago Auto Show
Part of Field’s delivery wagon fleet in 1897. The store relied on delivery boys in 1868, acquired first delivery wagons in 1873.