Truck and Track Autumn 2021

Truck and Track Autumn 2021 18 Sustainability is never far from the headlines now and consumer awareness has increased since the pandemic began as people witnessed the environmental benefits of traffic and travel fumes decreasing as people stayed at home. This has led to more pressure on retailers and logistics managers to consider the environmental impact of their business operations. Recent research undertaken by Descartes found that 71% of European consumers and 60% of UK consumers now consider the environment whilst making online orders. The growing importance of sustainability is evident with 56% of the UK wanting to see the UK reduce its emissions faster and government pressure increasing on companies to pledge to go net-zero by 2050. This awareness of environmental accountability comes at a time when the online shopping demand has never been higher. The focus should now be on continuing to grow alongside the demand but with a greener approach in both the ways that consumers shop as well as the way retailers and logistics providers deliver their services. Businesses must take action – from combating congestion to driver shortages, to diesel bans and calls for more sustainable route planning. Consequently, intelligent technology is the key to unlocking streamlined logistics for delivery companies and reducing costs. The growth in online shopping The impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on shopping and deliveries is vast, demonstrated by the number of internet sales having risen substantially since February 2020 . Online shopping is now more popular than ever having grown to an average of 43% of purchases from 32%. Over half (51%) of European consumers have increased their number of purchases and now make an online purchase at least fortnightly which is almost double the amount (28%) before Covid-19 hit. The number of purchases made online is expected to remain at 41% even after the pandemic has declined showing that this shift away frombrick-and-mortar stores is here to stay as consumers look for a more convenient way to shop. The sustainable goal With increasing interest from consumers in sustainable options and online shopping set to continue in popularity, retailers and logistics companies need to be mindful of the impact they are having on the world around them. 63% of people in the UK now show a willingness to pay a surcharge for environmentally friendly shipping and this is beginning to influence consumers’ buying habits with 21% ceasing to buy from brands over environmental concerns . Seeking to address environmental factors and matching consumer expectations can help companies to win over, and retain, consumers. Delivery companies are beginning to take steps to improve their environmental credentials including an increase in the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs) which can mitigate the growing costs associated with the UK’s Clear Air Zones. Using intelligent route management ensures that the right vehicles can be deployed to match capacity with demand and reflect environmental goals in real-time whilst the fleet is in transition. Continuous optimisation of routes can automatically take into account details such as vehicle size and engine type to allocate an EV to a Clear Air Zone or a smaller vehicle to rural narrow roads to increase efficiency of the fleet. UK consumers have also shown a growing interest in bulking up orders with 26% interested in bulking all orders into a single delivery when there are multiple deliveries in their areas and 27% are happy to have all their orders delivered in a single weekly delivery. This could lead to a significant increase in the sustainability of deliveries and business operations. Where smaller organisations may not have as many options to bulk up or bundle orders, there is an opportunity for fulfilment collaboration to optimise the delivery models by working collectively. With rising costs and driver shortages becoming increasingly challenging, it will be a valuable option for third parties to leverage real-time capacity optimisation solutions and a consolidated fulfilment option in the future based on bulk order delivery. A greener way to shop online Andrew Tavener – Head of Marketing, Descartes Systems UK Ltd DESCARTES