April 2018 saw UK high street retailers suffer the biggest drop in sales for 22 years (in fact, since records began). This follows news earlier this year of household names like Toys R Us and Maplin collapsing. And, a number of others such as House of Fraser and New Look searching for agreements to reduce rent costs and close their shops.
The reasons? High street retailers are suffering from a major consumer shift to online shopping.
Recruitment-wise, the retail sector fell from the third most active recruiter in 2017 to the 10th. Compare this with news from the courier industry which has seen firms such as DPD create over 700 new jobs as weekend deliveries increase by 40%. You definitely start to see a pattern.
So what do these changes in retail mean for couriers?
As people turn to online shopping, online retailers and couriers have to get clever to fulfil this new wave of demanding consumers. Large firms such as Deutsche Bank have already banned employees from taking delivery of personal items at their offices because the volume is too disruptive and time-consuming.
In response, many retailers already have, or plan to set up ‘click and collect’ options where customers can pick up their deliveries from conveniently located third parties. Research shows the majority of shoppers now want complete flexibility and control over when and how their purchases are delivered, as well as the ability to track them at every step of the way.
According to a new survey ‘The Future of Fulfilment Vision Study’ completed by retail and logistical experts, same day delivery is expected to be the norm by 2023, and a significant number expect two-hour delivery by 2028.
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Clever retailers realise that in order to meet the demands of today’s online consumer, it is essential to automate as much of the process as possible from beginning to end. This includes using the latest AI technology for order taking, processing, warehousing and delivery. There is also a need to work collaboratively with the courier.
The whole service needs to be seamless and retailers realise this can only be achieved by outsourcing delivery to best-in-class providers, which allows them to focus on their core business.
This collaboration supported by technology is the way forward. While the industry has already embraced AI, further developments anticipated include drones and AI driverless vehicles.
These technological advances, which all need specialist support from human interaction from both retailers and courier businesses, means we have exciting times to look forward to. Perhaps now is the time to pause and take stock of where your business is at. Are you currently working with the best-in-class providers? Are you getting the best service at the best price? Make sure your fleet is future ready by visiting Total Insurance, we are fleet courier insurance specialists.