The impact of technology on the development of last-mile delivery.
In 2018, 504 million parcels were transported in the Netherlands, which is an average of 63 parcels per household (ACM, 2019). It is predicted that these numbers will only increase in the coming years. It is clear that consumers like to order online, but what is the reason for the (online) buying frenzy? Several studies indicate that it is mainly about convenience. People want to have an ordered item delivered to their home as quickly as possible and for the lowest price at a time of their choosing. These changes and growth in e-commerce are having a major impact on the parcel market and present a major challenge for courier companies. In addition, courier companies must respond to adjusted laws and regulations. A lot will change in the coming years in the delivery process from distribution center to the customer, also known as last-mile delivery. It is no surprise that technology will play a major role in this. But how will technology change last-mile delivery and what will this process look like in 10 years?
Avoiding the 'closed door'
One of the biggest problems facing courier companies and consumers right now is delivery times. About 70,000 parcels per day are not delivered successfully the first time (RTLZ, 2019). The courier often stands in front of a closed door and from the consumer's perspective it remains annoying that courier companies cannot give the exact time of delivery. As a result, many organizations, including startups, are developing various initiatives. For example, Post NL has the parcel and letter machine. These are safes that are located in central places in the city where the consumer can pick up or send the package when it suits him or her. Another initiative is the 'smart door lock'. A lock that can be opened once by the deliverer so that he / she can put the package inside. Albert Heijn has already conducted a pilot with the 'smart door lock', which enabled the delivery person to deliver the groceries to the refrigerator. There are also options that are more widely accepted, such as the video doorbell. This doorbell gives the resident the opportunity to talk to the courier at the door and instruct him or her to deliver the package to another location. The challenges are not only on the technological side, but also in customer acceptance. How do you guarantee the privacy of the people at home and of the courier and how do you guarantee that a courier who enters the house also leaves it neatly behind?
Drones, Robots and Autonomous Vehicles
In the United States, work is underway on the development of mini delivery robots that can deliver within a radius of 6 kilometers. These robots have been specially developed for delivering small packages and are suitable for quickly delivering a package to the consumer from a local store. For takeaways and meal delivery services, this could mean that staff can deliver in an environmentally friendly way.
Several experiments have also been conducted with drones that deliver small packages. However, due to functional problems, legislation and costs, this innovation is not expected to be used in the centers of major cities worldwide. However, the drones are suitable for delivering medication and other small packages in hard-to-reach places and in suburbs.
Researchers predict that delivery buses will become increasingly autonomous and that technology will take over a large part of a delivery person's work: in addition to self-driving vehicles, think of technology that ensures that a delivery person can park faster or technology that makes loading and unloading and sorting packages easier. makes. There is even talk of drones that can fly out of delivery buses to deliver packages in this way.
Striving for green
In addition to technologies that increase convenience for the customer and the courier, there are also the necessary laws and regulations that stimulate or even make changes in the parcel market necessary.
Because many cities are working on lowering the emission standard, courier companies are forced to respond to this. At the moment, companies are busy researching which low-emission vehicle is most suitable for them. Coolblue, a webshop specialized in consumer electronics, has its own courier service and nowadays delivers small packages with the e-cargo bike. Meal deliverer Thuisbezorgd.nl has also been using e-bikes instead of scooters for a few years now. Companies are looking at options for delivering parcels by (electric) bicycle, but the electrically powered delivery bus will probably soon become an integral part of the repertoire.
Last mile delivery in 2030
The predictions for 2030 go even further: To make things even easier for the customer, fully autonomous courier buses deliver the packages to a central location in every neighborhood. Robots pick up the delivered package, bring it to our homes and place it in the place designated for the package. There will come a time when every household has a robot that not only does the laundry and makes beds, but also collects packages.
The last-mile delivery process is changing and will change even more and faster in the coming years. Courier companies are developing initiatives to meet customer demand and optimize their own processes. It is clear that technology plays a role and will play an even greater role within these initiatives. Are you ready to encounter fully autonomous vehicles on the road in 10 years and live with a robot in your home?
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