The future of deliveries

With the rise of e-commerce, we reduce the amount of movements of people (when going shopping), but we increase the number of movements of ‘stuff’ (e.g. consumer goods). Technology and applications to be in control of all these packages (both as a consumer and a business) are making an efficiency leap, and will soon play a substantial role in the management of mobility.

• According to VIL (Flemish Institute for Logistics), most players in logistics embrace the ‘speed of delivery’ as a key benefit, while for 75% of deliveries, consumers argue that speed is not an issue, but control over parcel delivery (control over when, where and how the delivery occurs.

• Powered by new technologies like the ‘internet-of-things’, autonomous vehicles and app-based control, a new set of solutions is emerging where consumers are in control of their grocery and parcel deliveries.

• There is a space race of innovations happening in order to fix the most complicated (and most expensive) part of delivery logistics: the last mile (even the last meter). A new breed of (automated) vehicles and infrastructure is emerging and will make use of regular mobility infrastructure in the upcoming years.

• E-commerce is still growing. On top of that, the market for Food Delivery has doubled in the past two years in countries like the Netherlands and the UK; we cannot think of mobility without taking delivery into account.

Every logistic company is on a quest to find the Holy Grail when it comes to tackling ‘the last mile’ in delivery. Amazon received a lot of press coverage with its ‘Prime Air Vision’, delivering by air via drones. The founders of Skype found another route: pavements. They believe the future of delivery is by autonomous robots. Back in March 2016, Starship Technologies have unveiled their small, autonomous, six-wheeled devices, capable of carrying as much as 20 pounds up to a mile or more from a central service hub.

Starship is currently aimed at the grocery market, but will soon also work with standard packages, as delivery can be operated 5 to 15x cheaper compared to humans.

The use can be quite simple: users place an order with the company’s mobile app, and then chose a delivery time for when they know they’ll be home. Legislation and safety is a lot easier when navigating the pavements. The first delivery robots will hit the roads of London in the summer of 2016.

Smart delivery boxes

The Belgian start-up Bringme liberates all reception desks of companies for being the pick-up point of e-commerce deliveries of their employees. The Bringme smart boxes combined with delivery apps allow residents to keep control of deliveries (even frozen) and possible returns. By the end of December 2016, Bringme had 600,000 users in Belgium and the Netherlands and processed 3 orders a day for the installation of smart delivery boxes.

A very creative and smart alternative is trunk based delivery. At Volvo Roam, an app-based digital key lets shoppers remotely open and lock vehicles to receive online orders while they’re away. The service is built upon Volvo’s existing Volvo-On-Call feature, which allows drivers to monitor and activate certain car features via mobile. Now, drivers will be able to use Volvo-On-Call to create a one-time-use digital key, which will be shared with couriers making deliveries. The couriers will be able to locate the vehicle, unlock it and leave packages inside.

By turning the car into a pickup and drop-off zone through using digital keys, it’s now possible to deliver the goods to people and not places.

With a fleet of eco-vehicles (pedal powered, electric, CNG-powered), young and emerging organisations like Bubble Post takes care of a more efficient and eco-friendly logistics in the heart of Belgian and Dutch cities. They hope to outperform conventional delivery companies with very performing planning software (it is all about increasing clustering effects), and modes of transport such as Bullet Cargo bikes that are often much faster and more flexible in dens city areas.

Belgian cities are suffering from heavy logistics. Our mission is to keep them out of the city, and process last mile delivery in a light, safe, eco-friendly and elegant way.

(Benjamin Reader, Ceo Bubble Post)

Social delivery

After early initiatives in the field like Roadie, Bringbee or Das Kartoffeltaxi, Nimber is the newest in the family of what we call “social delivery”. It is an Airbnb for sending ‘stuff’, making use of people going that way anyway.

Want to send a sofa to Surrey? Give it to someone driving a van that is heading that way anyway. Forgotten your glasses? Pay a cyclist £10 to drive them across town for you.

This is the new social delivery model from Nimber, a Norwegian start-up that has launched in the UK in May. The platform features a location-based algorithm that matches delivery jobs with people who are heading that way, while the marketplace pricing system offers a fair deal to both parties.

  • Nimber, the airbnb of delivery arrives in the UK, The Telegraph, 12th of May 2015
  • Starship partners with Just Eat to bring its delivery robots to the UK, Wired, 5th of July 2015

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