Despite mixed headlines about the state of Europe’s economy, retailers are growing at a healthy rate and are looking to use every delivery method available to get their products to the consumer as quickly as she or he has requested. This is fuelling increased demand for trailers from fleet managers who want to benefit from these additional opportunities.
Growth at top European supply chain organisations
Information technology research and advisory firm Gartner sounded a very optimistic note when it announced the ranking of the Top European Supply Chain Organizations for 2016. Ranked on a range of attributes including return on assets, inventory turns, revenue growth and sustainability, all the Top 15 in Europe for 2016 generated a solid return on assets and most displayed revenue growth. For example, Unilever, which ranked at no 1 overall, grew at 3.6%; H&M, which ranked 2nd increased its revenue by 16.3% and third placed Inditex expanded by 11.2%. Good news for those transporters participating in their supply chains.
Accelerating the speed of delivery
Accelerating the speed of delivery to a sub-one or -two-hour delivery window is the current Holy Grail in customer service. Retailers are seeking new and better ways of delivering their products and services to customers either directly or through customer collection at bricks and mortar stores.
Some companies are experimenting at the limits of today’s technology to find future solutions. Amazon continues to make a name for itself with its innovative research including the trial use of drones for last mile delivery in the UK and the filing of a patent for a mobile 3-D printing delivery truck that would print out a product in a truck based nearest to the customer. These innovations remain experimental and in their infancy.
In the UK you can already find on-demand delivery apps from retailers such John Lewis and Asda. Asda’s Asdatoyou app enables customers of Asda’s retail partners to collect goods more quickly from an Asda store. In France, sports retail giant Decathlon has a facility where you can check the availability of an item at a specific store and, if available, buy it online and the retailer will respond with a message within one hour to confirm that the product is ready for collection from the store.
Innovative, quick fulfilment is a great source of competitive advantage, revenue and customer loyalty. However, execution can be brittle, particularly at the level of the last mile delivery, with the smallest breakdown in the supply chain having the potential to be costly and cause significant reputational damage.
Managing last mile delivery risk
Writing in February’s Supply Chain Digital, journalist Dale Benton says that the industry is proposing different ways of managing risk in the last mile delivery phase including:
- Offering customers a smartphone app that links them to an in-store beacon. A signal between the phone and the beacon tells the retailer’s staff that the customer has arrived in the store and their order is swiftly and seamlessly dispatched to the delivery counter for immediate collection.
- Ensuring that the in-store collection of online orders does not interfere negatively with the on-going bricks and mortar shopping experience.
- Providing a great customer experience by training staff to excel in a wider variety of tasks in addition to classic shop sales and advisory roles. Tasks will include the fulfilment of online orders by finding and packing the right products to match orders and adjusting order management systems.