Some trends are macroscopic: quick-commerce was almost non-existent in 2020 and present in the majority of the news reviewed by 2021.
Other trends can be sneakier: returns were omnipresent in 2020 and much less talked about in 2021, but still growing.
With almost 8.000 archived articles about Last-Mile, eCommerce and Retail, a growing community of sector professionals, a premium blog and a newsletter being published since 2015, Milkman Technologies Communication Hub can certainly voice its last-mile delivery predictions for the newborn year:
- Parcel delivery. For this specific market, seems that the business focus should be around the following two main priorities: next-day deliveries and returns.
As hinted by the $125M Series A round received by next-day package delivery startup Veho, probably, the next new business objective for parcel delivery companies will be same-day outside major cities to feed consumer requests from decentralized areas. Almost $70B in 2021 in America only. Returns might not make the news headlines any longer but reverse logistics processes will continue to be an important priority for eCommerce and Retailers.
- Grocery delivery. Grocers will need to focus their strategies around speed, convenience and experience. As quick-commerce will follow a consolidation trajectory very similar to gig-economy, it will probably peak in 2022 and then experience a setback.
No need though to overlook it, instead, it could be strategic to nurture this short-term demand while Retail Groceries get used to a smarter and sustainable supply chain, through hyper-automated approaches allowing flexible delivery time-slots.
- Hot-food delivery. European Commission is about to classify gig-economy workers as full employees. This is not the end of hot food deliveries, but the time for definitive consolidation where probably bigger companies will acquire small players.
- White Goods/Furniture delivery sector has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation industry. For electronics & appliances stores, sales were up 36.9% for the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. As some parcel carriers introduce surcharges to discourage big items from entering their warehouses, Big and Bulky Retailers are called to act and manage directly their own transportations.
- Lockers and PUDOs will keep growing massively but on a different scale between North and South Europe. While curbside pickup has apparently plateaued and if Covid relents might even experience a gradual decrease.
- Warehousing. As space becomes more expensive and difficult to find, micro-fulfilment is expected to keep growing by exploiting closed shops. This trend will keep getting a lot of attention on the news because of its general visibility and a big impact on city life. The real game, though, would be played inside bigger warehouses, as they fit scalable needs.
Another year of fast change has started: a new model of convenience, for Carriers and Retailers, will take place. More technology investments towards optimization and greener options will lead the market, from the deployment of electric fleets to breakthroughs in AI and machine learning. As robots and drones keep rolling and flying more in fantasy than in reality, the last-mile segment has really become the “new Retail”.