Even shorter delivery times possible with collaboration

Delivery is a major battleground for retailers as changing consumer expectations place greater emphasis on speed, enabled by mobile technologies supporting faster and more reactive purchasing decisions.

While just a few years ago it was the norm that orders placed after 8pm would be excluded from next day delivery, consumers now expect that order windows remain open until 10pm and we are already seeing this extended to midnight with some retailers.

New planning legislation came into effect in April which means all retailers will be allowed to offer click-and-collect services in store. This is in response to a wider trend towards more flexible multichannel delivery approaches alongside the rising popularity of home delivery and public parcel lockers.

This presents new opportunities for retailers, but how can these challenges be met without affecting the cost to serve, and what does this mean for both the retail and supply chain sectors?

Mobile technology is the major driving force behind these developments, which has generated a wealth of data for retailers to tap into. To make the most of these insights, retailers should share this information with their supply chain service providers in order to identify more efficient delivery options that are tailored to the customer’s needs.

Furthermore, by understanding the requirements of consumers, retailers and supply chain service providers can assess the best available options for product warehousing, as well as develop advanced planning around key retail periods like Christmas to be more reactive and capitalise on demand.

Utilising such insights, it may well be feasible to further reduce delivery windows, but this requires a full understanding of the repercussions on a retailer's wider business and suppliers. Supply chain service providers like Wincanton can also support customers in implementing innovative approaches to traffic planning and cage design to maximise the number of products on each vehicle and ensure operations are run as efficiently as possible to help businesses grow and reduce the cost to serve.

Shortening delivery times will continue to be a brand differentiator for years to come and will remain of the highest importance to consumers in deciding where to spend their money.

Fulfilling these expectations will not be easy but it is achievable through the adoption of technology and close collaboration and communication across the supply chain. Exciting times lie ahead for both the retail and the logistics industries, and it is a future we face together.

☛ Liam McElroy is managing director for e-commerce and retail at Wincanton

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