Home delivery – problem or opportunity? A call for action now!

Recently, I attended the CSCMP European annual conference in Frankfurt, using the occasion to exchange views and best practice about the latest trends in supply chain management. A topic I found particularly interesting and which was addressed on several occasions was home delivery.

While not new, the importance of efficient, sustainable and timely home delivery is moving increasingly into the focus of the logistics sector. Significant shift in consumer behaviour in recent years, driven by social media and the ability to purchase on-line at any time, is putting increasing pressure on on-time home delivery. Retailers in particular need to align their supply chains to ensure short delivery times (with next-day delivery increasingly seen as a competitive advantage).

Concerns are also arising about the sustainability of this distribution mode. In the past, cities have developed without much thought to distribution. But increased urban traffic has led to severe congestion issues in most – if not all – large conurbations. The situation calls for a sustainable solution, which will require strong collaboration between the logistics sector, local municipalities and governments.

Increasing calls to reduce CO2 emissions are also putting more pressure on the sector. The significant growth of e-commerce and home delivery are often seen as a threat to a more sustainable supply chain. On the other hand, they might also help reduce traffic to shopping centres and supermarkets and CO2 emissions by private car use. But this is likely to be a longer term effect, as long as customers continue to enjoy the “store experience”.

Weather the rise in home delivery increases or reduces overall traffic in urban areas remains to be seen. But whatever the outcome, it is clear that further measures to reduce congestion and emissions need to be taken soon.