The future of home delivery
I heard from the BBC producer and reporter Andrew Bomford over the weekend. The web page was the 2nd most read on Friday (06/07/2012) and received 682,000 views in one day! The BBC have also been inundated with emails in response. I have also been inundated with emails and ideas on how the issues can be dealt with.
In addition to the content produced by Andrew and the team at the BBC I feel it may be useful to outline some of the technologies and options that may drive future trends in home delivery. Feel free to comment or add further useful links to organisations and sites relevant to this debate.
1) Delivery when they are in.
2) If they are in waiting for a delivery, they want reassurance of when it is going to arrive, so need transparency of where the vehicle with their parcel is.
3) If they are not at home – somewhere the parcel can be left (or delivered so it can be easily retrieved)
What a company may want is:
1) Proof of delivery – they want to know the parcel has reached the address and been received in perfect condition.
2) The courier providing an excellent customer experience.
It is also particularly important that generally the customer does not differentiate between the courier and the company the item was purchased from. It can be argued that the courier is the representative of the original organisation. So if the courier is seen as "rubbish" the company who sells the product will also get this label. However a good delivery experience can enhance the customer experience and therefore gain customer loyalty and increase sales.
So below are a few more ideas with links to organisations and individuals who were not included in the BBC article. I have also put in a few of my thoughts of how things can develop.
Delivery to a consolidator in your area
One interesting approach is consolidation. For example, deliveries in the Basildon, U.K. area can be served by “My Parcel Centre Basildon”
Effectively you can collect or arrange a delivery 7 days a week and they use little eco electric vans for deliveries. Effectively all your parcels are delivered to them then you arrange for them to be delivered once a week to your home in a 1 hour slot for £2.95 or alternatively you collect at a cost of £1. There website is www.myparcelcentre.com
(This sort of option also occurs at a more global level through arrangements between credit card companies and DHL . Borderlinx enables customers in the UK, for example, to make lots of purchases in the USA, then consolidate the deliveries and arrange one delivery at a set cost including tax to a UK address. This also means you can go on an online shopping spree in the USA and get a cheap single delivery for everything in one go at a set price http://www.borderlinx.com/ )
Real-Time tracking by use of smart phones – so you know when it will arrive
The use of Mobile Technology so any driver of a vehicle (or even a cyclist or walker) can now become part of a delivery network. When “location services” are “on” on your iphone, for example, you can give permission for people to know where you are. If you then know where the delivery vehicle (or person) is and where a package needs to go an instruction can be sent. This technology also means you can know the actual location of a vehicle in real time so for a home delivery a customer can track the order being delivered or receive an automatic alert when the vehicle with their package is within a certain radius. In addition to the organisations of Blackbay and eCourier mentioned in the BBC article. Deltion who have pioneered a cloud based approach.
Another way real time tracking of packages is done from a security perspective. Carriers can know precisely where an item is globally by using technology. For example, Freight Watch International - the website has a nice video which explains the concept but it is all about transparency and visibility of where items are.
The “iBin” - Secure drop boxes at properties
The ibin is an option so that a customer can have a secure large box at their house so a courier can place the product in a lockable box. The concept is explained clearly on this webpage http://www.theibin.com/How-it-works.aspx .
Proof of delivery
An important question for companies to ask is “what is the purpose of the signature” sometimes people send things using “signed for” because they believe the item will be looked after better in the postal system and there is more traceability and transparency. Perhaps an option of “Tracked” could be used, this would involve the item being scanned through the system but then rather than a signature being required the item could be scanned when posted and the GPS location of where the item was scanned and posted saved and uploaded (using technology outlined above). This would then mean that the sender would know it had delivered at a particular time. One organisation I in the pharmaceutical industry take a photo of the front door if a signature is not available, this photo is then uploaded for proof of delivery purposes.
The true cost of mis-delivery
The cost of mis-delivery varies but I have heard quoted anything from £5 to £40 depending on the type of product, this of course is a hit for the delivery company. If organisation have specific examples of costs I would be interested to hear the figures.
One example in the U.K. of improving transprency is to raise customer satisfaction is a product utilised by DPD has a service called "Predict" this results in their system creating emails or text messages that give a predicted one hour time slot on a particular delivery day. To enable this advanced telematics and the information on the route monitored. Improving Transparency in this way results in improved customer service and improved delivery performance.
Home delivery is good for the environment
My friends based at Heriot-Watt University have done some excellent research which was published at "14th Annual Logistics Research Network Conference, 9th – 11th September 2009, Cardiff". These are really interesting as you will see that even if you have to re-deliver 20 times you still create less CO2 than getting in your car and collecting it - 181 grams of CO2 per drop compared with 4274grams if you use a car! (For none food).
Papers relating to this work include:
14th Annual Logistics Research Network Conference, 9th – 11th September 2009, Cardiff
CARBON AUDITING THE “LAST MILE”: MODELING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF CONVENTIONAL AND ONLINE NON-FOOD SHOPPING
Julia Edwards, Alan McKinnon, Sharon Cullinane
Logistics Research Centre, School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University
THE IMPACT OF FAILED HOME DELIVERIES ON CARBON EMISSIONS: ARE COLLECTION / DELIVERY POINTS ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVES?
Julia Edwards1, Alan McKinnon1, Tom Cherrett2, Fraser McLeod2, Liying Song3
1) Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University, 2) Transportation Research Group, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southampton 3) School of Traffic and Transportation, Beijing Jiaotong University
For copies of the proceedings please contact The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport UK