UK haulage experienced volatile prices in Xmas run up
UK road haulage import and export prices were volatile in the run up to Christmas, according to the quarterly Freightex European Road Freight Index.
The report, compiled by Transport Intelligence, shows that prices failed to reach previous peak levels and dropped back in January with lower levels of activity.
For the three months from November 2012 to the end of January, the Index, which identifies price fluctuations, rose from a low of 113 points in November to a high of 117.8 on January 1. However, the Index saw marked declines throughout January.
In absolute terms, prices are roughly the same as last year, with the high of 117.8 comparing slightly favourably with last year's 116 points.
Freightex CEO Tim Phillips said: “Although we experienced an increase in prices during the Christmas period, these increases did not hit the levels experienced prior to the economic crisis.”
Thomas Cullen, Senior Analyst at Transport Intelligence commented: "The picture painted by the Freightex European Road Freight Rate Index over the past quarter is hardly a surprise. Demand in much of Europe is weak, notably France and Italy, with the situation particularly bad in Spain. Germany is stable if not exactly growing rapidly."
The level of price rises in Europe over the holiday period was markedly less than seen in previous years. The market appeared to falter around late November, leaving a limp recovery until Christmas.
January was marked by stability over the first couple of weeks, followed by an unusually sharp fall in prices. The nature of the fall in January was in-keeping with the volatility seen in the period running-up to the holiday season.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, beyond the boundaries mass movement of goods from A-B. The logistics company says the exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its experimentation in new autonomy solutions, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, vice president, advanced technology and innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.