Pandemic reshapes shopping behaviour, last-mile delivery
May 09 2021 01:07 AM

A WEF report cites a 25% rise in consumer e-commerce deliveries in 2020. A 10-20% of the increase in e-commerce deliveries is expected to continue even after the pandemic

The Covid-19 shutdowns have completely reshaped how we live and how and what we are buying.
The pandemic has changed the way people around the world buy goods, accelerating the rise in online shopping and e-commerce deliveries.
According to a new report from the World Economic Forum, Covid-19 has reshaped last-mile logistics, and has led to a 25% rise in consumer e-commerce deliveries in 2020.
The report explores changes that have been seen over the last year, which will greatly influence last mile deliveries in future. For example, it is expected that 10-20% of the recent increase in e-commerce deliveries will continue after the pandemic and the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
“Covid-19 shutdowns have completely reshaped how we live and of course this includes how and what we’re buying,” said Christoph Wolff, head (Mobility) at the World Economic Forum.
“Leaders must consider and respond to the effects Covid-19 has had on e-commerce deliveries and what impact these changes will have on their cities and communities.”
Beyond rising demand, the past year has also seen a large shift to greener delivery options, with wider spread EV across the industry and more stringent carbon emission rules from cities expected to shape delivery networks in the near future.
While ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines remains the most pressing issue in global vaccine distribution, effective last-mile delivery is another critical issue for countries. The key challenges are cold storage, second vaccine dose needs, and a disconnect between the vaccine and patient journey, noted Madeleine Hillyer of World Economic Forum.
While disruptive new technologies, such as drones and delivery robots, will continue to emerge, the last-mile revolution is happening now as proven technologies scale up. The likes of parcel lockers and data sharing for load pooling are being adopted around the world as the costs of implementation decrease.
“Governments and logistics companies could think about teaming up with players who are experienced in managing very local, capillary demand and with integrating a large number of local retail outlets,” says Anja Huber, engagement manager at McKinsey & Company. “Examples include large online retailers, eGrocery giants and technology platform players.”
Potential solutions countries can implement for efficient vaccine delivery include real-time logistics planning, data integration, centralised management of delivery strategies at the national level and many more.
There are also early examples of countries that have handled this challenge particularly well. While there are many factors in vaccine distribution success, broadly speaking, countries with tight integration of healthcare and logistics stakeholders seem to show the highest national vaccination rates in the first two months of 2021.
Data show Israel, the UK and Chile outperforming other countries with more decentralised healthcare systems, like the US and Germany, which had slower initial vaccine rollouts.
Clearly, much still needs to be done to ensure developed countries overcome operational issues with vaccine delivery.
Last-mile vaccine distribution remains an ongoing challenge for countries and logistics providers, but experts say key tools such as data integration and centralised delivery management can ensure effective delivery at a time of pandemic-induced crisis around the world.

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