Shoppers Demand Faster Deliveries

by Antonio Bruni

e-retailers need to radically reconfigure their product delivery models. During the recent global lockdowns, it was reported that online orders for groceries from the likes of OneCart, Bottles App and Buyfresh had increased as much as 30 times. Both on-demand and next day delivery models required improved delivery systems and significantly more staff to manage order fulfilment and on time dispatching.

The market for innovative delivery has grown considerably as consumers demand faster delivery. According to PWC Global Consumer Insights Survey 2020, shoppers would pay for delivery of groceries that took less than two hours. When choosing an e-retailer, most consumers place a premium on same-day or faster delivery.

There has been an unprecedented acceleration of trends that have emerged over the past year. Innovations are happening faster, especially in the e-commerce world – merging the digital and in-store experiences. More importantly, there has been enormous innovation in the pickup and delivery space.

These changes are here to stay. According to the survey, nearly 90 percent of online grocery shoppers plan to continue shopping online once the world returns to normal.

Traditional retailers must change, they need to rethink and reconfigure their business models or risk becoming obsolete. They no longer have the luxury of waiting for tried and tested transformation techniques.

Delivery challenges

Modern day customer demands are expensive and thanks to Amazon, Alibaba and other major e-retailers, express delivery, delivery time brackets and accurate arrival times are the new norm. However, can e-retailers bring exceptional customer service to their deliveries while cutting their costs? The answer is yes, by saving on expenses in the last mile of delivery.

Just saving one mile per driver each day could pave the way for company savings that could account for as much as 50% of total shipping costs. To reduce the time spent in the last mile, couriers are increasingly adopting technologies that calculate the fastest routes, consider delivery windows promised to customers and take traffic into account.

But there is an obstacle limiting the effectiveness of these technologies, the traditional street address. Street addresses are slowing deliveries, but Picup has overcome this hurdle and increasing last mile efficiency through the use of what3words.

Traditional street addresses are not instantly understood by digital maps. Just as computers don’t really understand text, instead making millions of binary calculations, a digital map doesn’t really understand what it shows.

For a digital map to understand and position an address, it first needs to be translated into GPS coordinates. This is done by tools called geocoders, which take an address, convert it as best they can into a set of coordinates, and pin the location on the map.

The problem is, auto-geocoding tools are far from perfect. The GPS coordinates they calculate can be imprecise, resulting in addresses pinning to incorrect locations. This is particularly apparent in large offices, complexes and industrial estates with multiple entrances, as well as rural locations, where coordinates don’t typically pin to the correct location.

At best, this would slow our Picup drivers down during the last mile and at worst, cause them to lose their way. On top of this, duplicate street names within the same city are enough to veer drivers way off-course. That is, if an address is recognisable to begin with.

Much of our country isn’t well-addressed, particularly in informal settlements, townships and rural areas. And it can take months for new developments to be recognised by map providers’ systems. Inadequate addressing, mapping and misplaced pin drops lead to lost drivers, delayed deliveries and unsatisfied customers. The result is time wasted, reduced market access and lost revenue.

Solving the problem

To combat this problem, Picup partnered with what3words, an innovative global location reference system that has divided the world’s surface into 3m x 3m squares, each with its own unique 3 word address. For example, the 3 word address of Picup’s office entrance is: ///mobiles.code.flowerpots. This is useful, as the Google pin drops at the other end of our building.

Tests across the country have found that the adoption of what3words is reducing delivery times by up to 44%. Each 3 word address references a specific set of GPS coordinates. This means that when customers provide a 3 word address, Picup guarantees to deliver to a location reliably – even without a traditional street address at hand.

Picup’s Enterprise platform is integrated with what3words, meaning it recognises 3-word address when receiving delivery information. This provides a far more accurate delivery point for Picup drivers and prevents them from becoming lost. It helps optimise their routes and enables them to fulfil deliveries faster.

In this way, what3words is enabling Picup to deliver more swiftly and give its customers the service they have come to expect – wherever they live – at an affordable price.

  • Antonio Bruni is the CEO of Picup

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