Over breakfast on Saturday morning, we check the weather on our phones: 12 degrees and rain. We’d originally planned to go shopping – Benny needs new shows and Sara a new jacket. Then, the Amazon app tells us that kids’clothes are now on sale. No need to leave the breakfast table after all!
With one-click shopping, the stuff has been ordered by 09:45 and should arrive in the afternoon. If the stuff doesn’t fit or we find cheaper alternatives, we’ll just send it back on Monday. The week’s shopping can also be taken care of online. Quickly, the basic shopping list for milk, bread, sausages, and drinks is confirmed for delivery on Monday.
A push notification informs us that the movie tickets ordered online can be picked up at the box office at 19:30. According to the Google app we should leave by at least 18:45. On the way to the cinema, it occurs to me that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. After quickly ordering flowers and a card via app, I wonder: do they deliver on Sundays, too? Regardless, we arrive at the cinema on time and the show begins. The film is exciting – exactly as described in the online review. Because it’s late and still raining, we order a quick taxi through MyTaxi.
On Monday, I’m happy to find that the flower order went off without a hitch. I’m a bit surprised that the oer for kids’ clothing on the Amazon ad only starts on that coming Thursday. As the online radio report on data protection plays in the background, I think about what I can get for my entire collection of reward points at the online supermarket.
The story above could be similar for just about any weekend. The buying and selling of goods over the internet is influencing our daily lives. More and more, we as customers are linking our purchase decisions with the accompanying services around the particular product. Differing delivery options – such as delivery on a desired day and time, or same-day delivery in an evening timeframe – are just two examples. According to the ZF Future Study 2016 “The Last Mile”, the following three issues form the foundation of these changes:
- The end customer is the target of all activities on the last mile
- The environment – such as the infrastructure, development, and volume of trac – gives a framework for the scope for design
- Between the conflicting priorities of end customer demands and environmental limitations, innovation opens up new scope for design
Further services will in the future hold an even more central position, and shopping will be even more a part of our experience. Retrieval of old appliances, installation directly upon the delivery of new appliances and built–in appliances, return of packaging and personalised bonuses in shipping are already possible today. The 24/7 delivery to container freight stations has for many years made the receiving and shipping of packages to every part of our daily lives possible and demonstrates the scale of innovation between customer demands and environmental limitations.
Customer expectations – not only in receiving goods but also in sending them back (backwards logistics) – are unambiguous: transactions have to be fast, simple, and dependable. Current delivery structures have to be appropriate to the country and region, and new services in the flow process have to be integrated and implemented. This movement in the Courier-Express-Parcel market (CEP) is already in full swing. According to a Forrester study, an average growth rate of 11 per cent annually in e-commerce is predicted, and other studies assume even higher rates of growth, with the greatest growth markets in the UK, Germany, and France, followed by Spain and Italy. Factors of savings, mobile shopping access, and a wide range of assortments play an important role. Especially in the area of groceries and food delivery, a high demand has been set.
Demands on logistics and IT processes
A central challenge is undertanding logistics services on the last mile within the business structure and using such understanding actively through marketing and sales. In this project, groups and staff positioned across sectors help in attending to interface issues, especially in the implementation phase. Services should be oered even on the landing page in order to demonstrate added value to the customer simply and memorably. If logistics can be understood as the ribbon tying the process together, then it should no longer stand in the way of the shopping experience.
Many logistics services are coupled with real-time inventory control. Integrating inventory transparently in the query logic is made possible, for example, by click&collect processes or the integration of same-day delivery options. Depending on the availability of goods, a new shopping experience can be oered to the customer. Here again lies the chance for stationary trade – availability of products in the immediate area of the customer.
The potential to receive goods quickly has by no means been completely exhausted. Special groups of goods, which due to their dimensions and weight do not fall into the classical CEP business and require high transport costs for the customer, will in the future be even more strongly in demand, with delivery services at chosen times during the day or evening. Thus, in the construction materials segment, for example, an increase of service availability has been recognised and an expansion of delivery options is desirable.
The critical customer furthermore values ecological goods and services. Fulfilling this expectation presents businesses with additional challenges in regard to service vehicles on the last mile and systemic timing issues. Efficient scheduling of routes, always with regard to possible bundling effects, make the last mile scalable and (more) affordable. E-mobility stands for the current development in the automotive sector. Car makers such as BMW, Daimler, Ford, Volkswagen, and Peugeot are equipping themselves for the new mobility of tomorrow. E-bikes, e-scooters, and e-service vehicles are already being tested and are partially in daily service.
In order to deliver goods quickly to customers, collection points near cities are used. In the cross-docking method (no warehousing; quick distribution of goods) goods are distributed and brought to urban centres. A sensible combination of logistic movements to customers is being analysed by the Nuremberg Institute of Technology. At its core, the research deals with sustainable city logistics through CEP services within the micro-depot concept. The economical delivery with load cycles currently on the market attended to among other respects scientifically. The first promising results confirmed the assumption that a cooperative use of resources through the e-commerce boom has delivered sustainable added value.
“Under certain preconditions in the micro-depot concept a 1:1 replacement of conventional 3.5t GVM class delivery vehicles by Pedelec load cycles is possible as a consequence of the high efficiency advantages of the concept,” says Prof. Bogdanski, head of the sustainable business leadership and logistics at the Nuremberg Institute of Technology. “Hence, traffic and ecological advantages resulted in the urban sphere. The proven economics of the concept can further be improved through a cooperative use of micro-depots, and through fixed cost digression eects, sustainable city logistics with load cycles can be possible also for other branches.”
As individual services can be selected, so can they in the future be individually formed into packaged content. The last mile doesn’t end at the customer’s door. Personalised bonuses will be integrated in the delivery logistics by the introduction of service-oriented software and will analyse purchase behaviour in seconds by communicating directly with the customer.
In the future, delivery robots and drones will be tested and the classic delivery system will change more and more. No more hurdles stand before a systemic approach to automated delivery, and it will be exciting to see at what tempo the market will develop and which tools and service understanding our children will be using to order online.