eCommerce is the fastest growing retail market in both Europe and North America, with online sales in the former expected to reach £182.80 bn (+16.7%) this year and £215.38bn in 2017. If the courier industry is to ensure that it can meet this increasing demand, it will need to engage with new technologies even more so. Here are just some of the changes we can expect over the coming years.
Customers have been able to benefit from the convenience of tracked packages for years now. Companies like TNT Direct allow you to do this right now by visiting their website or by using a specialised app on your smartphone. At the moment, we’re only updated with an item’s location once it reaches a specific transit location, where a barcode or QR code on the item is scanned. In the near future, though GPS tracking could become widespread. This will allow us to see the position of a parcel in real-time, and make judging when an item will arrive on our doorstep much more accurate.
Crowdsourcing is making a big impact on a number of different industries right now, and deliveries may be next. UberRush, an offshoot of the highly successful taxi business, aims to connect businesses with an on-demand delivery network in their local area. The company says this will vastly reduce the time customers spend waiting for their goods. Additionally, since couriers don't need to make round trips, this should allow businesses to expand their delivery zone and be much more efficient. Other companies have already taken note, with Amazon launching their own Flex service that will pay freelance drivers to deliver packages from their own e-commerce site.
You might be more familiar with drone technology from its use by the military in defence applications, however, just recently the first successful ship-to-shore drone delivery took place in New Jersey. The unmanned aerial vehicle delivered medical supplies to previously inaccessible locations and could help change the future of the courier industry. Amazon have already showcased examples of what they hope will become a part of their same-day, delivery service. By taking advantage of the GPS Technology inside customer’s smartphones, the company hopes that they’ll be able to eliminate the so-called “last-mile problem” and deliver packages to consumers in 30 minutes or less.