Parcel delivery has seen a huge growth throughout the world due to the extreme increase in online shopping, and as ecommerce continues to grow, so will the volume of parcels in the transit network.
The expectations of customers and businesses have been changing over the last few years to demand more out of courier services than ever before. Whereas the “norm” may have been an expectation of delivery between 3-5 days, this has changed so people now expect their parcels either the next day or even on the same day. Not only is the demand for goods through delivery increasing daily, so is the demand for speed. When we look at the delivery options that businesses such as Amazon offer for a small incremental amount each month, it’s clear to see that customers crave the same delivery speed from other businesses.
Customer expectations will continue to grow, so couriers and postal services must transform the way they operate to minimise the risk of falling behind and losing out on lucrative contracts as speedy delivery partners.
Investing in cloud-based software offers agility and new opportunities for data integration, analytics and visibility. Switching to cloud-based software is a strategic move to analyse the supply chain and take on big projects which could minimise the implementation time by months. Investing in newer technologies will allow courier services to manage large increases in delivery volumes at faster speeds.
Many courier services still operate manually with rows of metal chutes and conveyor belts to process parcels. Although technology is still involved, it is human hands that feel the parcels and tend to the machines. With the large volume of parcels that are increasing daily, it will become impossible for courier depots and parcels hubs to handle the volume manually if they do not invest in machinery to assist.
It is not just technology that needs to be improved, it is space. With a high volume of deliveries and parcels, depots and hubs should have the capacity to store all of the parcels safely inside; we have seen in the media in recent weeks that higher volumes of parcels have caused depots to pile people’s deliveries outside, exposed to the elements.
Another option is to operate at all times of the day and all times of the week. Traditionally, parcels are not delivered on Sundays because it is not cost effective due to lower volumes. However, with higher volumes, working Sundays are a good way to space the parcels out. Big brands such as Amazon already offer this, again leading the way for different working practices. Although deliveries cannot be made throughout the night, it may be beneficial for depots and hubs to stay open with a small number of staff to organise and prepare for couriers the next following day, so parcels do not pile up.
For smaller deliveries, drones are a possibility for the future and may be able to give customers 2 hour windows, even with same day delivery. However, the two big disadvantages of using drones are that
- The drone needs a landing area of at least 2 m2
- Drone can only carry up to 15kg of parcels
Without a doubt technology will improve over time, but for built up areas, even with a smaller drone it may be difficult to implement them.
The sheer cost of investing in drones may also make this option impossible for smaller courier companies.
Autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) with lockers could also be an option to deliver parcels without any human interaction (great in a pandemic especially). Customers will be notified when the parcel has arrived, and they will retrieve their parcel from their specific locker. However, these AGVs will have to be monitored, and these also have an expensive outlay initially to invest in enough units to deliver efficiently.
With both of these technologies, it does also need to be said that by using robotics instead of humans, there may be less jobs available in the courier and logistics industries moving forward. That said, the need for humans will still be there due to the increase in demand for speedy deliveries.
The future for courier services is both exciting and daunting at the same time and we feel privileged to be a part of this growth!