The explosive growth of ecommerce has undoubtedly put more pressure on retailers to deliver on their promises. The pressures of the modern on-demand economy have led to an increasing number of deliveries across the country, resulting in drivers being asked to deliver more and more parcels with each passing year.

Nasdaq estimates that 95 per cent of purchases will be made online by 2040. The same research found that ecommerce will account for $4.5 trillion in sales by 2021, almost twice the figure for 2017.

It’s an enormous task for delivery drivers to fulfil the number of deliveries assigned to them, which often means missed delivery targets, customer complaints and drivers inadvertently adopting the role of scapegoat. This has distracted from the underlying issues with legacy delivery systems and the current infrastructure. Without addressing these issues, the problem will only become greater, especially given the demand for next-day and same-day delivery.

So, how can online retailers continue to thrive, without increasing the burden on the delivery driver?

Don’t shoot the messenger

Research has shown that 95 per cent of UK shoppers are buying products online due to improved convenience and timely delivery guarantees. Although delivery was once considered an afterthought, it has become a vital factor in the shopping experience and is now a crucial element in decision-making at checkout.

The increasing number of failed deliveries, or parcels arriving damaged, has resulted in the misconception that delivery drivers are either incompetent or lazy. In fact, most drivers are resorting to the kinds of behaviours we see shared on social media—such as careless parcel handling and door-step confrontations—due to the mounting pressures on them to deliver an enormous quantity of parcels each day. Delivery drivers are often seen as an extension of the retailers, which means any frustrations are automatically angled towards them. Despite what the popular saying tells us, the impulse is always to shoot the messenger when delivery issues crop up.

Out with the old, in with the new

With current delivery infrastructure, this situation will soon become untenable. It’s time for retailers to turn to new, scalable solutions to support this demand. One solution to alleviating the increasing strain on delivery drivers is to minimise the number of delivery destinations and optimise delivery routes. This way drivers can perform the same number of deliveries in a fraction of the time, which means they’re able to satisfy the growing number of orders, without jeopardising the customer experience or parcel condition.

By allowing drivers to deliver packages en masse—to a handful of lockers instead of hundreds of destinations—lockers provide a way for drivers to carry out their duties without stress of meeting delivery targets and resorting to mishandling or misplacing packages. This offers retailers a way to ensure customers can collect, send and return parcels at their convenience.

By introducing parcel lockers to the suite of checkout options, businesses can cater to today’s fast-paced modern lifestyle. In an “always-on” society, the majority of consumers are rushing to work, collecting their kids from school, attending social events, and being around for a delivery is the last thing they want to do after a hectic day. Introducing parcel lockers at checkout is a simple way for businesses to cater to today’s fast-paced modern lifestyle, as items can be collected at any time of the day or night ultimately countering the damaging characterisation of drivers.

Lockers not only improve overall customer experience but also create a more direct link between retailer and consumer, removing the driver from the equation.

Lockers go a long way to addressing the unjust demonisation of the delivery driver. No longer the scapegoat, drivers will be freed up to focus on providing a good customer experience. It’s clear that online retailers must move away from legacy delivery infrastructure, to align the delivery experience with the modern sensibility and consumer demand, but to also demonstrate a commitment to the welfare of delivery drivers.

[Source: Jason Tavaria, UK CEO at InPost]