Cape Town, – E-commerce is fast and will only get faster.
Today’s consumers are very familiar with the capabilities of modern technology, and if they know there is software or an application out there that can make their lives easier, they will expect retailers to implement it. If businesses fail to heed their call, it’s bye-bye customers.
The traditional logistics sector has had to learn this the hard way.
The click & collect model, where customers order an item online and then collect it from a pickup point of their choice, has been a major disruptor in this regard.
South Africa is notorious for late and missed deliveries given the country’s poor road infrastructure, so when click & collect burst onto the scene in 2015 it was an immediate game-changer. Now, instead of waiting on couriers or having to check back with the company about non-delivery, shoppers could simply order their item and collect it at the same time they did their grocery shopping.
The model essentially created a need for faster, more accurate and more flexible delivery options.
But even those businesses already offering click & collect need to be up to date with the latest trends in this space, lest they fall behind.
Admittedly such systems are not always easy to roll out, as the logistics journey can be complex.
Not only do orders have to be picked up from a variety of locations, loaded into delivery vehicles and taken to various pickup points, but the vehicles are then sent to multiple destinations. This is where the ability to adapt and act with speed comes in, and why effective last-mile delivery systems are crucial.
Global management consultancy McKinsey agrees that traditional logistics firms should understand that customers’ needs have evolved and that omnichannel distribution is now what’s wanted.
If they hope to stay in the game, they will need to embrace last-mile delivery technology but should also be aware that this, too, it is evolving rapidly.
“Contract-logistics players can consider partnering up with automation providers to develop customised blueprints to allow for flexible automation that can handle a variety of customer needs,” McKinsey says.
“Over time, companies will build the necessary experience to plan and tailor their automation technologies according to strategic business decisions on customer segments and locations.”
Intuitive notification tracking has become essential to speeding up delivery times and improving the logistics experience. By implementing this system customers can receive text messages and e-mail alerts about where their parcel is in the order-to-delivery process.
Pargo, which brought click & collect to South Africa, has enjoyed considerable success because its solution integrates with existing systems and processes for the purposes of support, training, and guidance. The technology also allows for intuitive notification tracking and monitoring of orders, providing retailers with control over the entire delivery process.
“The benefit of last-mile delivery tech in the click & collect model is improved efficiency and customer satisfaction,” says the company’s co-founder Lars Veul.
“Reducing delivery times and increasing accuracy leads to lower costs and increased revenue. And, of course, the end-customer benefits because they are receiving their goods more quickly and have more choice in their delivery options.”
Veul believes that in the next two- to five years last-mile delivery technology will continue to evolve, with even greater emphasis placed on automation and real-time tracking.
“Click & collect is also expected to expand to new markets and industries as more retailer and logistics companies adopt the model,” he says.