How to make urban deliveries efficient and sustainable

May 19, 2021
StoreShippers - Nienke van Meekeren
May 19, 2021
StoreShippers - Nienke van Meekeren

Last-mile logistics refers to the final step of the delivery process, most often from a distribution centre to the end customer’s destination. This last leg of the supply chain is an extremely important part of the delivery process, but it is also seen as one of logistics’ biggest pain points. It is one of the most time-consuming, expensive and demand-driven parts of the shipping process, and unfortunately it is often still rolled out in an unsustainable way. These points certainly apply to deliveries in (inner) cities, where the number of transport movements has increased explosively due to the growth of e-commerce. In this blog, we show three ways in which last-mile logistics can be transformed in order to overcome these challenges.


By 2025 at least 500 million e-commerce deliveries will be made in cities every day

1. From delivery van to cargo bike

Currently, 54% of the world’s population live in urban areas and this number is even expected to rise to 68% by 2050. This urban growth along with the increasing popularity of e-commerce means that by 2025 at least 500 million e-commerce deliveries will be made in cities every day. Nowadays, many of these deliveries are still done with polluting vans. These vans drive back and forth to the homes of consumers, while trucks supply the distribution centres. As a result, cities struggle with traffic congestion and air pollution. A solution to these problems is to use cargo bikes for last-mile deliveries instead of polluting vans. Bicycle couriers deliver packages much faster than delivery vans, because they do not suffer from one-way traffic, narrow streets, congestion or traffic jams. By exchanging polluting vans for cargo bikes, last-mile deliveries will become more sustainable, efficient and cost effective.

2. From traditional delivery to crowdsourced delivery

Modern consumers have become accustomed to instant gratification and are therefore increasingly demanding when it comes to delivery speed, costs and flexibility. In a race to meet consumers’ growing demand for faster and cheaper delivery and outsmart the competition, more and more retailers turn to crowdsourced delivery. Crowdsourced delivery is a convenient method of fulfilment that leverages networks of local couriers to deliver orders quickly from stores or warehouses to the consumers’ home. Crowdsourced delivery is a fast and low-cost alternative to traditional delivery. Moreover, it reduces the number of delivery attempts, which can increase the customer experience. Crowdsourced delivery is particularly successful in urban areas, where there are sufficient couriers and sufficient customers conducting online purchases.

3. From a central fulfilment centre to ship-from-store

With traditional e-commerce logistics, online orders are shipped from one or more central fulfilment centres. Depending on the distance from the fulfilment centre to the consumer, online orders are sent to multiple distribution and sorting centres before final delivery to the individual consumer. Instead of this inefficient and unsustainable way of shipping online orders, it is better to switch to ship-from-store or to use mini-fulfilment centres in cities. Ship-from-store is a fulfilment process where retailers use stock from their brick-and-mortar store estate to fulfil (online) orders. Fulfilling orders this way turns the store into a virtual hub. Retailers who have implemented a ship-from-store fulfilment strategy have the opportunity to ship locally from a store in geographic proximity to the consumer. This ensures fast and sustainable delivery, and makes it possible to ship items at relatively low costs.

By implementing the above three transformations in the last leg of your supply chain, it will benefit your efficiency, costs and the environment.

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Blog by: Nienke van Meekeren
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