We have previously looked at the broad challenges and opportunities that ‘last mile delivery’ presents for organisations, and the more specific impacts it has on facilities and property management. Here we look at the retail sector, and how online sales volumes and customer preferences directly impact parcel handling and delivery.

Retail revolution

Driven by a number of factors, UK retail is in a continuous state of change. There is an ongoing shift to online purchasing, coupled with some specific changes in consumer behaviour.

The shift to online in the UK has been underway for over a decade – online sales accounted for just 3% of total retail sales in 2007, against nearly 20% in 2018. This has presented a significant challenge to the traditional retail model and has caused widespread disruption.

Most forecasts expect this disruption to continue. However the new retail environment that will be formed presents significant opportunities for technology to play new roles for businesses and consumers.

Key trend: buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS)

According to research by Savills, just under half of stores (47%) offer click and collect services in the UK. There are, however, a number of barriers to click and collect. While convenience and free delivery are the usual reasons for consumers to use these services, the typical complaints relate to long queues at collection points or waiting while staff find parcels in stock rooms.

Key solution: automated parcel lockers

The main reason to offer click and collect is to provide a better customer experience. Unfortunately, this is extremely difficult proposition to meet in the final fulfilment phase, as queuing, waiting and errors are difficult to predict. Locker storage solutions can therefore act as a means to overcome inefficiency. 

Although pickup points are often located at the back of stores where stock rooms are also located – and to take advantage of having customers walk by as many in-store products as possible – this experience does tend to negate promised advantages of convenience.

Instead, pickup up from lockers is more easily located at the front of stores, maximising customer value through convenience and giving stores a strategic advantage against others.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the issues that are creating the need for mail management solutions like lockers, Apex Insights has produced an in-depth market report. You can find out more about the benefits and features of our locker system here.  

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