Innovation is essential to lead in last-mile delivery solutions


South Africans have warmly embraced ecommerce, with the sector growing by 19% in 2021, as it offers consumers more choice, better value, and greater convenience, whether they’re shopping for groceries locally, buying big ticket items nationally, or even shopping from international retailers.

This increased adoption of online retail has offered a massive boost for the local logistics and delivery industry, which, to a large degree, makes the convenience of online shopping possible with deliveries to homes, businesses, and lockers being the final step in the ecommerce process. 

Success in this industry will be determined by the speed at which deliveries can be made, the value for money in pricing, and the convenience offered to retailers and the people receiving their goods. 

Retailers will choose last mile delivery partners that can offer predictability, flexibility, and reliability, with more and more outlets and the people that receive their goods placing an emphasis on sustainability too. They will choose the delivery partner that looks and feels like an extension of their own brand, mindful that it’s likely that those receiving their goods perceive the delivery partner to be more representative of their business than a sales consultant on the shop floor. 

Predictability and flexibility are made possible by transparency and communication, keeping both the sender and the receiver informed about the status of the delivery at all times – even making it possible for them to update information during the delivery process. DPD Laser has made this possible through our online customer portal and our express delivery app.

The portal empowers our customers to update delivery information in real time, allowing the delivery team to adapt and respond quickly if the receiver has changed plans or location for the intended delivery, in turn avoiding redeliveries. The mobile application puts delivery information at the fingertips of receivers, allowing them to plan effectively to be at the delivery point when their goods arrive, without having to limit their movements for the whole day. 

The delivery experts that represent our customers at the point of delivery are uniformed, with vehicles clearly branded and well maintained, offering the reassurance of clear identification to receivers, and peace of mind to retailers who can trust that the final custodian of their product before delivery will represent their brand well. 

With retailers trusting their delivery partner to be a representative of their brand, and receivers’ time under pressure, reliability is key to the success of any last mile delivery solution. 

As part of the global DPDgroup, DPD Laser has access to the financial stability and industry-leading technology made possible by an international collaboration of industry leaders. 

This is the foundation for our more than 1,000 vehicles stationed at our network of more than 30 regional hubs, which give us the reach across the country to complete 98% of deliveries using our own delivery teams. This means that we can trust our own delivery experts to represent our customers’ brands well, while reassuring all parties that competitively priced deliveries will happen on time as planned, with the likelihood of damaged or misdelivered goods being massively reduced. 

We have established meaningful relationships with local delivery partners in the 2% of South Africa where our teams cannot go, making sure that we can indeed service remote and rural areas in KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. 

With retailers and their customers increasingly questioning the sustainability of an industry that depends on internal combustion engines and throwaway plastic as part of its daily operations, last mile delivery partners need to invest in more sustainable operations strategies. 

While our DPDgroup colleagues abroad have already adopted battery-powered vehicles for deliveries within Europe’s densely populated cities, it has not yet been possible to embrace electric vehicles for deliveries on a broad scale in South Africa. Pilot projects are underway, but the country’s vast distances and unreliable electricity supply mean that these vehicles are not yet the sustainable solution that they may well be in the future. 

However, making as many sustainable choices as possible, despite those limitations, all contributes to reducing impact on the environment, and treading more lightly on our precious planet. This could be through making investments in technology that plan drivers’ routes to be more efficient and keep connected with receivers to avoid redeliveries, or it could be through choosing recyclable fly bags and finding ways to replace paper waybills with electronic solutions. 

Decentralised logistics, like our network of more than 30 hubs across the country, also contribute to reducing mileage and fuel consumption. 

As ecommerce adoption escalates among consumers and businesses all choosing online options to make their purchases, the last mile service providers that will win the day are those that are able to consistently offer quick and efficient deliveries at a value for money price point, while offering multiple layers of convenience for retailers and the consumers that receive their products.

By Devon Light, International Executive at DPD Laser

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