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Delivery firms will innovate to avoid chokepoint

22 December 2014

Parcel delivery innovations will fuel e-commerce growth in 2015 and beyond, predicts courier Fastlane International.

The internet retail delivery and international parcel market is poised for some significant developments next year, believes Fastlane, which will fuel further growth in e-commerce next year.

Fastlane International is predicting for 2015 and beyond:

• Increased delivery options.

• The growth of Sunday deliveries.

• The growth of same day deliveries.

• Better "signature” proof systems.

• More electric/hydrogen vehicles.

• Developments in drones, as trials get serious.

• The demise of cut-price untrained man and van deliveries.

Fastlane International”s David Jinks MILT says: "We are expecting 2015 to outperform even the technology-powered e-commerce revolution of 2014. Retailers have paid lip-service to the idea that the customer is king, or queen, for many years; but today they really are. No longer do companies decide how much stock might be available in any store, or how many days it might take to deliver. We were in a push-economy, with manufacturers and retailers calling the shots. Now we are in a pull-economy: customers are in the driving seat, and are deciding exactly when and where they want their products. The good news is that research is showing delivery improvements could potentially boost online sales by $18bn.”

Increasing real-time delivery options will be a growing feature next year. Fastlane”s partner DPD helped revolutionise customer’s experience in 2014 with its multi-award winning Predict and Follow My Parcel services. Now customers can receive a one-hour delivery window and reschedule the parcel while the delivery is actually on the road. Real time tracking follows the delivery, and there’s a 15 minute countdown.

David says: "This innovation was made possible through the growing use of GPS satellite tracking systems. We predict by the end of next year a number of more dynamic companies will be offering full real time information and "in flight” delivery change options in the UK and US.”

Sunday deliveries will also become more widespread, as they have proved to be a hit with consumers. While there may be a question mark over harder to reach areas, city centre Sunday deliveries will become the "new normal”.

Same day deliveries will expand rapidly, predicts Fastlane. Consumers expect ever quicker deliveries and soon that will mean not only the same day, but an exact hour. Says David: "Such is the appeal of ‘instant gratification’ that people are prepared to pay handsomely for it. If people want an item badly and urgently enough, and are prepared to spend more for this, that need that will be met using a mix of improved ordering, picking and GPS technology. By next Christmas, we’re predicting a number of retailers will be offering fast, time specific, same-day deliveries.”

Better signature proof systems will benefit retailers and customers. Increasing use of mobile devices with cameras to record exactly who accepted what parcel, and when, will lead to less lost and missing parcels, and fewer allegations against couriers.

Electric and even hydrogen powered delivery vehicles will be an increasingly familiar site in our towns and cities as the effort to improve the air quality of our urban areas continues. Hydrogen vehicles are in their infancy, but already one company is trying out this even greener alternative to electric vans. And watch out for DHL”s increasing use of pedal power, as cycles make a parcel comeback.

Unmanned drone deliveries may sound the stuff of science fiction, but Amazon is getting tough in its belief that this is a practical technology. Recently Amazon threatened the US Government that the internet giant will take the development of its R&D outside America if the US doesn’t make some concessions to the developing technology. There’s already one German island that is being served by drone delivery technology in a DHL experiment.

Finally, the end of the road for cut price untrained delivery drivers and the cheap-and-not-so-cheerful companies that use them, cannot be far away. This Christmas has seen increasing consumer anger at the antics of some low-cost couriers. 

Says David: "A number of parcel delivery firms have spectacularly failed to cope with demand this year. Our industry is proud of its achievements. However, some low-cost delivery companies continue to capture headlines for all the wrong reasons. It won’t be long before consumers wise-up to those companies who are failing to meet basic delivery standards, and, even more significantly, stop doing business with those retailers who continue to use them. Internet retailers should not be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to customer satisfaction.”