Many haulage work professionals are reporting a huge increase in demand for same-day or next-day deliveries. |
This is not only putting stress on hauliers, couriers and freight forwarders, but it also means that sub-optimal journeys are undertaken. Those journeys are bad for the environment if they result in more vehicles running around doing next-day deliveries and failing to provide opportunities for load consolidation - such as only using one vehicle every few days rather than 5 every single day.
Is this an inevitable result of our modern ‘must have now’ society, or is it being driven unnecessarily by marketers and flawed consumer demand analysis? What is Generating Next-Day Demands?
Over the past decade, the haulage work - and wider transport industry in general - has got used to the mantra from their customers that everything is urgent because “technology is driving consumer demand for immediate product deliveries”.
As a result, it’s a risky approach these days to respond by saying that you “can’t do a delivery for a couple of days or more”. Understandably, this has increased the competition between couriers and transporters to offer ever more ambitious ‘next day’ delivery promises, with all the negatives that implies for costs, profitability, driver stresses and the environment.
However, when you peel back the layers of this ‘consumer demand’ imperative and start to look at the facts and figures, then the assumptions about the origin of same-day or next-day requirements begin to look flawed.
Some recent market analysis has indicated that consumers are, against all expectations, by and large NOT demanding same or next-day deliveries. What they ARE saying their high priorities are when deciding where to buy items are things such as price, choice, ease of returns, deals and so on. Incredibly, only about 4% of consumers say next-day delivery is important to them when choosing where to shop.
By any standards, this is a stunning finding.
What IS Causing the Panic?
Looking at these statistics, many in courier and haulage work will be asking: if it isn’t the consumer applying the pressure for next-day deliveries, then who is?
And this is actually not an easy question to answer!
It’s possible to make a speculative case that these sometimes unreasonable demands are originating within elements of the supply chain management processes run by the producers and sellers of goods. In many furiously competitive marketplaces, producers are desperately keen to look for differentiators between them and their competition. Many are also seeking to move the debate away from who can offer the lowest price and onto other factors that hit their margins less hard.
It’s therefore a very short conceptual jump to start promising consumers next-day deliveries based upon assumptions that that’s what consumers really want. All the real evidence suggests that lightning-fast deliveries isn’t the big attraction in getting consumers to spend their money with you as opposed to your competitors.
Looking at things objectively, it’s possible to make a case for abandoning the excessive demands for fast deliveries that are such a major burden in the haulage work and courier industries today. Based on the figures, it’s doubtful if the end consumer would mind much, and the benefits to our economy and environment might be considerable.
However compelling the analysis, it seems unlikely that demand for same-day and next-day deliveries will reduce in the foreseeable future.
This demand has its origins in retail segments that are desperately fighting for survival against each other, and any suggestion that one of them to should be ‘brave’ and a trendsetter by abandoning advertising to customers offering next-day delivery might be asking for too much.
For the time being, courier and haulage work may have to put up with this demand - even if it is possibly unnecessary.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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