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PREDICTIONS Five ways retailers may rethink delivery in 2023

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Each year, InternetRetailing starts to look ahead to the coming new year in a series of predictions. Today’s predictions explore what a range of industry members see coming in the year ahead when it comes to the last mile. 

Increased transparency around parcel delivery 

Samantha Holden, chief commercial officer (CCO) at Yodel, says: “Transparency will continue to be very important in parcel delivery, as customers seek better communication from companies. Technology like photo delivery evidence and what3words will continue to scale, helping final mile drivers find greater efficiencies and deliver right first time.

“We also expect to see more widespread adoption of out of home services, which gives customers the opportunity to make more sustainable delivery choices with drivers able to consolidate deliveries rather than delivering to individual homes, reducing miles on the road. As more people go back into workplaces, Out of home also offers excellent convenience and confidence that you receive your parcel even if you won’t be home. Finally, as the labour market shifts in response to the economic climate, we expect to see larger volumes of applicants seeking the flexibility that a position in logistics can offer.”

Balancing speed and sustainability to deliver reliability 

Rosie Bailey, commercial director at CitySprint, says: “Pressure on speed of delivery has never been higher. As we emerged from the Covid pandemic, customer expectations have fundamentally shifted and retailers are feeling the heat in trying to meet that demand. As economic pressures bite, many consumers will look for value in speed and convenience. It will be up to retailers to match that in 2023. 

“With the increased expectation for speed and convenience comes pressure on sustainability — something which is of increasing importance as we look to the year ahead. High volume, traditional home delivery services are not typically compatible with sustainability. But with consumers and businesses considering their carbon footprints more than ever, retailers need to think carefully and re-evaluate their operations by exploring ways to reduce their environmental impact. Whether it’s using electric vans or cargo and push bikes (which are great for deliveries in high-population locations like cities), providing green delivery options will increasingly be a non-negotiable for consumers and retailers. 

“Finally I believe reliability will be a significant trend for 2023. It’s hard to ignore the fact that consumers and retailers alike have faced a number of challenges in 2022 — from strikes to global supply chain issues. Of course, some things are out of retailers’ control. But as we look to the year ahead, it’s crucial that brands work closely with their logistics partners to minimise the impact of external factors and keep their business operations running as seamlessly as possible. This includes effective communication with customers to keep them in the loop about the status of their order and transparency when potential delays may occur. It also means working in partnership with logistics providers to plan resource requirements and provide appropriate delivery volume forecasts.”

Collaborating around delivery 

Tony Mannix, chief executive officer at Clipper Logistics, says: “Collaboration between companies will drive stronger performance. The sharing of business resources like warehouses, fulfilment, and transport is a highly effective way to achieve economies of scale, minimise operating costs, reduce total environmental impact, and build solid partnerships. As we continue weathering through market pressures, more businesses will assess the benefits of the shared use of tools like robotics and automation – both for start-ups and blue chip companies.

“The rate and scale of innovation will expand significantly. We are in the golden age of innovation and technological developments. The speed of change will only accelerate. Close partnerships with key suppliers of scale will offer the ability to benefit from the pace of change rather than being left behind. The pandemic highlighted the value of working closely with supply chain partners who can flex and offer insight, ideas and determination to succeed.”

The future of quick commerce

Daniel Alonso Moreno, VP of Q-Commerce at quick commerce app Glovo, says: “When it comes to what commerce will look like in 12 months’ time, only one thing is certain—that it’ll continue to diversify. From our own research across nine global markets, an average of 46% of SMEs said they were in survival mode

“This means we’re set to see greater business resilience across the commerce sector, with many businesses looking to business partners to optimise their delivery setups and continue to stay relevant in a world where the digital experience largely outweighs the in-person one. Reaching new customers is a challenge for 34% of SMEs, and more will look to understand, and then react to, rapidly changing customer needs. This means exploring more purpose-driven incentives such as sustainable packaging, to build customer trust and change the perception of rapid delivery services as bad for the environment. Q-commerce will continue to surprise industry cynics, and continue to remain relevant to consumers beyond super-fast delivery. This will include diversifying its product range to include retail, and meeting the nuanced needs of local markets, and the SMEs based within them.”

Communicating around delivery 

Jeff Woodland, director of vertical marketing at Five9, says: “With consumers of all demographics gaining superior online shopping skills during the pandemic, brands must now play better defence to protect their brand promise. Yet global supply chain disruption looks set to continue into the new year. Therefore, it is vital that retailers focus their efforts on what they can control – their communications.

“The last thing brands should be doing is making promises they cannot keep. When customers are left in the dark, expecting a parcel that arrives unexpectedly late, or never makes it to their doorstep, their trust in that retailer takes a hard hit. Fortunately, the right mix of proactive communication, AI self-service, and employee engagement will ensure that delays and stock shortages can be managed effectively.

“Going into 2023, retailers should secure their promises with intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) to provide customers with real-time delivery updates. Plus, these AI solutions will enable retailers to triage the more complex enquiries to skilled employees, arming them with customer data to provide alternative options and personalised offers to counteract any delivery issues.”  

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