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The future of delivery is fast – and furious, says Accenture’s Brody Buhler


Brody Buhler, global managing director for Accenture, says retailers and their delivery partners have to respond to the customer move towards mobile shopping and the need to be in control of their delivery experience and that technology is key. “Consumers expect the shipping event to be just as mobile as the purchase they made,” he told delegates at The Delivery Conference earlier this week.
As a result retailers are moving from investing in just a free shipping event to fast too. “I believe the next round of competitive advantage will come from free and fast and ultimately control as those consumers expect convenience and expect an experience,” said Buhler.

Buhler said retailers will increasingly look at their data to understand how and where goods are moving to get closer to understanding where the next purchase is coming from. “That’s where technology will have an incredible impact over the next couple of years,” he said. “Uber is predicting where the next rider will come from and are positioning their drivers for that. They are using that data to be predictive on where that demand is going to come from and retailers are starting to do the same thing,” he said.

He said retailers also had to use such data to better understand how to respond on the move to changing delivery demand. He said the 5pm to 9pm delivery window, which attracts crowdsourced labour, is becoming key. “Now instead of a truck leaving from sortation centre we see a driver ready to do deliveries and by creating micro continuous hubs they can do a continuous loop of delivery,” he said.

AI offers the potential for anticipatory delivery too, allowing deliveries to take into account influencing impacts such as weather that may mean a user wants to change their delivery. “If I can anticipate then I eliminate all those costs,” he said.

Cost will also be reduced thanks to autonomous delivery, such Buhler, who said it would arrive on ground before it’s in the air. “We see this as transformative. It’s coming faster than you think and as you take that labour construct out it changes the cost model again,” he said.

Image credit: MetaPack/The Delivery Conference

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