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THE YEAR IN DATA 2023: Logistics

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RetailX’s The Year in Data report sees our experts offer their perspectives on internet retailing in 2023. In a cost-of-living crisis, the cost of speedy delivery is no longer as important to shoppers as convenience. Katie Searles looks back at a year in which changing priorities have been increasingly met by emerging technology.

The luxury of getting products direct to their doors has remained a key reason shoppers continued to head online in 2023. How retailers ensure they deliver both on time and in a memorable way for their customers is evolving.

During the past few years, the speed of delivery has been the focus for many. However, with a rebalancing of ecommerce and high street shopping, speed is no longer everything. Convenience and successful first time delivery have proven more important to shoppers.

We have all experienced the frustration of that ‘missed you’ delivery card. To limit ‘Where is my order?’ enquiries, some retailers have turned to out of home delivery options, including pickup and dropoff (PUDO) networks, while others are looking to drive footfall to physical stores with click-and-collect options.

According to RetailX’s Europe Top1000 research, 46% of retailers offered collections in 2023, a rate up 6pp on last year and a service most commonly offered by pharmacies (67%), hobby retailers (58%) and those selling automotive supplies and books (both 56%).

Collection is most often available from Top1000 retailers selling to the UK (55%), followed by Luxembourg (46%) and Romania (42%), while there’s been a rise in availability in Iceland (+10pp to 18%). Offering collection instore has proved a huge success for UK electronics retailer Currys. The retailer reported order and collect sales are up more than 170%, often supplemented by the face-to-face assistance and advice available through its 24/7 video shopping service Shop Live.

For those retailers without a physical store, the roll-out of automated parcel lockers has proven an effective collection offering. This year, the number of unique parcel locations in Europe reached 120,390 – an increase of 51% compared to 2021.

Furthermore, Europe’s smart parcel delivery locker market is expected to grow further to be worth $531mn by 2028 (a CAGR of 13.9%).

Smart delivery options are supported by smart technologies in all parts of the retail chain. The increasing adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has been another trend in 2023.

Some are deploying AI tools for inventory management, with others using the tech for forecasting and planning. H&M, for example, has 200 data scientists working to understand purchasing patterns and trends across its store in a bid to achieve a climate-positive value chain.

Others are rolling out warehouse robotics, not only to ensure delivery for its customers but also for the benefit of their staff. Health and beauty giant Boots has credited its use of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for increased employee satisfaction. The AMRs mean warehouse associates no longer have to pull heavy carts or trolleys and walk long distances.

Whether for the good of their staff, delivering for their customers, or keeping up with the ever-evolving world of retail, it is likely that retailers will continue to turn to technology throughout 2024.

The second annual Year in Data report brings together the highlights and key points from all of the RetailX reports published over the past 12 months.

Through 66 pages, we share the data highlights from the more than 40 reports that RetailX produced in 2023.

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