The new e-commerce landscape across europe
New research from Scandit has found that across Europe, last mile e-commerce delivery firms perceive inefficiencies (55%), pressure on costs (50%), and the race to gain competitive advantage through new service offerings (45%) as their most cited current top challenges.
As consumers have become ever more hooked on ordering goods online during the pandemic, 42% of companies also say they are under pressure to meet demand, which shows little sign of easing.
The research, conducted in Spring 2021 and based on interviews with 118 respondents from many of the world's largest postal and logistics providers across Europe and North America, also highlighted a global trend of smartphones displacing legacy dedicated scanners in the hands of employees. Among European respondents, 67% report using smartphones as part of their last mile driver device estate. Respondents are also more likely to exclusively use smartphones (34%) than dedicated scanning devices (32%) as the primary device to support last mile operations.
Pat Nolan, Senior Research Analyst at VDC Research, who conducted part of the research on behalf of Scandit, commented: “At the same time that transport and logistic operations’ top last mile challenges are reducing process inefficiencies and lowering costs, modern customer expectations demand a proliferation of supply chain touchpoints and workflows related to omnichannel fulfilment models and reverse logistics. The new labour and process complexities introduced by these operational dynamics exacerbate last mile challenges, making it especially important for decision-makers to invest in mobile technologies that will set them up for ongoing success in an evolving landscape.”
The most frequently cited reasons for switching to a smartphone-based solution in Europe are adding new features and capabilities (50%) and lowering the total cost of ownership (44%). Improving the user experience and efficiency was also a key motivation for 27% of respondents. 81% of those already deploying smartphones said they are satisfied. User-friendliness (22%), cost reduction (17%) and workflow performance (17%) are the most frequently cited primary benefits.
When asked their most significant investment priority, enhancing delivery apps (43%) was the most common response, followed by a focus on enabling more contactless processes (22%), and a further equal proportion who want to develop new apps with features such as age verified delivery and address changes.
Samuel Mueller, CEO of Scandit, added: "Our research reveals a diverse range of challenges and priorities among last mile delivery organisations as they strive to meet customer expectations and maintain profitability post-COVID. Some are still focused on managing the short-term impact and disruptions caused by COVID-19 and the need to scale efficiently.”
“However, there is also an emerging trend towards improving user experience through mobile computer vision enabled apps on smartphones that allow couriers to do multiple tasks from one device from digitising paper trails, ID verification and fast-tracking customer feedback to arranging doorstep refunds for unwanted goods.
“The last mile is critical to the success of the delivery process and can make or break customer satisfaction. The technology investment decisions that companies make now will give them a decisive advantage over the competition in adapting quickly to meet new customer expectations while balancing efficiency considerations.”