This is the first ever EDX, and so from that point of view, one of the things I’m looking forward to is the event itself and to the chance to meet some of those people I’ve so far only talked to over the phone or on Skype. As luck would have it, I’m also chairing several of the sessions throughout both days. I’m going to relish being on hand to hear first-hand what some of the leading lights of the industry have to say.
The last mile is the hardest mile
The quicker you can get *stuff* out of the van and deposited with the customer, the better. Rounds are completed sooner, space is freed up, there are fuel efficiencies, a reduction in re-processing, you name it. It also means your precious customer is spared the ordeal of queuing up at a sorting office sited on an industrial estate on the wrong side of town, only to have to deal with someone who doesn’t really get, and certainly doesn’t do, customer service. So, what are the current crop of options and how do they compare – not just in their efficacy, but in the way they are regarded by the rest of the industry?
DPD have backed an initiative to develop new future-gazing solutions to help crack this one. So maybe the last mile problem is only going to be alleviated by something that hasn’t yet been invented. In which case, let’s hope whichever bright spark it is that will come up with a brilliant idea gets a bit of a wiggle on.
Healing the Achilles Heel
A growing number of low-margin goods being sent to customers via a high-cost option, and everyone in retail is sharing that same resource.
That’s how one key figure in the industry explained why he thinks carriers are the Achilles Heel of the industry. And it’s a reasonable concern – when it comes to delivery shoppers have champagne expectations but want to pay lemonade prices. How does an industry sustain itself when providing the kind of services people want requires investment, yet there is relentless pressure to keep prices down?
It’s a backdrop against which the collapse of City Link is dismally explicable. If a carrier can’t invest in new services, whether that’s text alerts or guaranteed time-slots, what can it offer? Coverage? Cheap prices? As important as both of those are, they are unlikely to be enough. Will that mean, then, that others follow in City Link’s unfortunate footsteps? Or will customers accept they need to pay premium prices for premium services?
Send in the drones
We’re marking the opening of EDX and IRX with a drone delivery demo. The drone will be helping give away an Apple Watch to one lucky attendee – but they’ll have to be booked into one of the Scurri seminar sessions in order to win.
I’d be lying if I said I get excited about remote control things and drones in general. They just don’t float my boat. It’s also fair to say that I remain fairly sceptical about the role drones will play in deliveries. But I am looking forward to the role eDelivery will have in facilitating the debate that surrounds drone usage, and where better to see that start to take off (I know, I know… but lame puns are a weakness of mine) than EDX?
There are legislative barriers and economic ones too. But with any new and potentially disruptive technology, it’s often the case that if there’s a will, there’s a way. The big question for me, then, is whether there is a will among the industry to use drones.
Delivery feels like it’s really coming of age. Or coming out of the closet. Or finally getting its moment in the limelight. You should feel free to pick whichever of those clumsy metaphors works best for you, if any. It has always been a fundamental part of the ecommerce equation, obviously. But the explosion of online retail has invoked some interesting sub-clauses of the Law of Unintended Consequences, and it’s some of those things that I’m most looking forward to at EDX and IRX.
Sean Fleming is editor of eDelivery.net