Saturday April 20, 2019

Innovative Posts and quick start-ups can both win from last-mile delivery boom

Udelv self-driving van
Udelv self-driving van

Innovative postal and parcel operators along with fast-moving start-ups can all be among the winners from the current and future boom in last-mile deliveries by using technology and flexible business models, according to experts. 

Collaboration between competitors and dynamic pricing models could also emerge in future, diverse speakers emphasised at the POST-EXPO 2018 conference in Hamburg last week.

During a panel discussion, Ari Kerstin, CEO of on-demand delivery firm Nimber, predicted that there will be a mix of old and new last-minute delivery models in future. “Growth will be so significant that everyone will share. Incumbents have substantial networks and will be part of the winners,” he said. However, their delivery networks could change in future, with more deliveries done by subcontractors, he forecast. 

Similarly, David Muntañola, chief revenue officer for Spanish locker company Citibox, pointed out that both start-ups and established players have “lots of opportunities” but need to focus on innovative products and services in future. Citibox itself offered “guaranteed deliveries to city centres” through its innovative technology that changes ‘dumb’ letterboxes into ‘intelligent’ parcel-boxes. 

Bastian Schilling, marketing manager of Canadian software firm Giro, said Posts could profit by combining static and dynamic delivery networks, and should make better use of big data to improve delivery efficiency. In particular, final-mile delivery pricing could be differentiated, with cheaper prices for delivery to self-service parcel terminals to increase their volumes, he suggested. 

Yuval Tori, head of Europe for Israeli delivery start-up Bringg, agreed with other speakers, declaring that successful operators “will win on technology” 

Responding to a CEP-Research question to the panel about the potential for last-minute collaboration between competing delivery companies, Luc Demierre, solution designer at Swiss Post, said: “This will be needed in future. If you look at forecasts for e-commerce growth, Posts will not be able to grow that fast, so collaboration with others will be needed.”

Kerstin added: “You could have a white-label last mile solution. That is what we are trying to do. Nimber only focuses on home delivery.” Similarly, Muntañola suggested that innovative companies might provide such “delivery support” for competing operators. 

Roel Gevaers, logistics innovation manager for Belgian delivery group BDmyshopi, raised the scenario that public authorities might put city centre deliveries out to tender and select only one delivery provider in future. Panel moderator Patrick van Lammern (managing director of consultants E-Biss International), commented that there would only be last-minute collaboration “if the law requires it”. 

In a separate session, Michael Löhr, founder and managing director of German same-day delivery firm Tiramizoo, explained how the company has created a transparent dynamic pricing system enabling it to offer retailers differentiated prices for different delivery times. Within a few years this could even develop into ‘real-time’ pricing, enabling retailers to decide whether to offer a choice of delivery prices or a flat-rate price, he predicted. 

Doreen Brodersen, COO of start-up Angel Last Mile, presented the Hamburg-based firm’s business model that is based on offering consumer-focused deliveries with a choice of same-day or agreed delivery times, often in the evening. 

Daniel Laury, CEO of US autonomous vehicle company Udelv, told delegates that its self-driving, supervised vehicle has so far made 700 deliveries for 10 merchants in the San Francisco Bay area, and plans to speed up by manufacturing 100 autonomous vans in 2019. 


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