City deliveries under threat

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London mayor Sadiq Khan is trying to stop people having their online shopping delivered to them at work because, he says, delivery vans are clogging up the city’s streets.

There is certainly no sign of any let up in the growth of online retail. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium says: “November 2018 cemented Black Friday as an increasingly digital event, with a record one-in-every-three-pounds of non-food purchases made online during the month.”

Malory Davies, FCILT, Editor.

Malory Davies, FCILT, Editor.

Khan told the “Evening Standard” last week that he wants to replace deliveries to offices with collection points at tube stations, supermarkets and corner shops so that people can collect parcels on the way home.

Urban deliveries are not just a challenge for London: a study DHL and Euromonitor highlights the fact that increasing urbanisation is making the last mile of delivery more complex and critical for the success of e-commerce companies.

The report argues that evolving technologies are creating opportunities for new disruptive challengers to enter the market, while also requiring incumbents to invest prudently and incorporate new skills into their workforce.

DHL and Euromonitor have jointly identified a model, “Flexible transport networks, Automation and Data”, to help retailers and logistics operators to ensure their competitiveness over the last mile.

“By improving their performance in increasing automation, managing data and building flexibility into their networks, e-commerce companies in all markets will be able to better manage inventory and increase the efficiency of their last-mile delivery networks.”

The trouble is that this is a highly political issue. London’s Sadiq Khan might have one idea of how to solve the urban delivery problem, but that might be very different from the mayors of other major cities around the world.

The DHL/Euromonitor model highlights the importance of flexibility. And there is no doubt that solutions will have to take into account not just different logistics challenges but different political perspectives around the world.

It is also important that logistics professionals take up the challenge of working with city governments to come up with solutions that make sense from a business perspective.

These are the kind of issues that will be up for discussion at City Transport & Traffic Innovation on 18th and 19th June. It’s worth putting the date in your diary now – these problems are only going to become more acute.

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