Is consolidation the key to saving our cities? Three projects that are paving the way
Manyof us living or working in European cities can see that not o...
It’s a widely known fact that parcel deliveries are causing problems in our cities.
Many of us living or working in European cities can see that not only is infrastructure struggling with the number of cars, vans and lorries on the roads, but that pollution levels are also dangerously high. What’s more, with urban freight set to increase 40% by 2050, and the latest ONS figures revealing a 3.4% population growth in city regions between 2011 and 2015, compared to a 2.5% increase in the rest of the UK, it’s clear that we need to address this growing problem.
Recent research we conducted ourselves shows that 62% of respondents across France, the Netherlands and the UK are concerned about the effect ecommerce is having on congestion and the environment. The ecommerce industry needs to look at new ways to tackle these issues, especially in last mile delivery.
One option the industry is already exploring is the consolidation of urban freight. In some areas, city councils, logistics companies, retailers and consumers have begun working together to reduce congestion; by consolidating parcels into shared vehicles, meaning fewer are on the road day to day.
With these benefits in mind, here are three examples of consolidation initiatives happening in the UK:
1) Crown Lands
Regent Street is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the world. However, research showed that 73% of consumers who shopped in this area found the experience exhausting and overwhelming. To address these concerns, as well as the growing pollution and congestion problem, the Crown Estate, which owns the area, appointed a logistics company to operate a delivery consolidation scheme.
With an aim to reduce congestion while also driving footfall, the independent delivery company works with retailers in the area to bring together deliveries and reduce the number of lorries and vans on the road. All consumables from suppliers are sent to a consolidation centre just outside the congestion zone. From here, all deliveries to the West End are combined in a few vehicles. Amazingly, this has reduced ecommerce vehicle movement by up to 85% in the area, highlighting the significant benefits of consolidation.
2) Last Mile Leeds and Manchester
The company has a depot near the centre of both cities, which is where suppliers take the parcels they want delivered. Once they have received the goods from the supplier, Last Mile uses cycle couriers to deliver the parcels to other areas across the city. This saves the supplier time, as there is no need to go to numerous drop off points across the city centre, while also reducing congestion and pollution levels.
3) The cross-river partnership
One of the most significant initiatives is this London-based partnership which works on various projects with councils, residents and delivery companies to try and change behaviours and promote better use of existing transport infrastructure. The partnership works on various projects across the city, including Last Mile Logistics, DeliverBEST and “click, collect, clean air”.
Last Mile Logistics
Last Mile Logistics (LaMiLo) is a pan-European scheme which works with both the private and the public sectors to improve last mile deliveries in cities. This project aims to fully consider the ‘last mile’ of a supply chain when planning a freight logistics journey.
Another project the partnership has worked on is DeliverBEST. This is a tool that’s been developed for logistics companies working in central London. It enables businesses to identify actions they can take to improve the efficiency of their deliveries, save money, reduce congestion and cut air pollution.
“Click, collect, clean air”
The “click, collect, clean air” campaign aims to change the behaviour of residents in London to choose “click & collect” instead of delivery; consumers can use this website which tells them where their nearest collection point is, as well as its opening times. The aim of this project is to have consolidated deliveries sent to allocated collection points, instead of to different residences every day.
Unlocking the industry’s potential
These initiatives are examples of how consolidation between logistics players, consumers and councils can improve last mile delivery across the UK. By looking for new ways to consider the ‘last mile’ in cities, we can reduce the number of ecommerce vehicles on our roads, reduce the industry’s contribution to high pollution levels, and sustain the fast growth of the ecommerce world.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.