No EVs? Here is a hybrid approach to going green
It is no secret that customers are putting more pressure on retailers than ever to go green. Buyers are starting to factor things like sustainability into more and more decisions, and businesses that can show off tangible success at reducing emissions have the potential to win business.
Even industry giants like Amazon are feeling the pressure—and they have recently put a lot of focus on rolling out a fleet of electric vans to help them get there. There is only one problem: the vans cannot get on the road quickly enough.
This is not just an issue with Amazon: the entire commercial EV market is developing more slowly than the consumer one, and the lack of vehicles is hampering many businesses' sustainability initiatives. That is why it is so important to have a hybrid approach to reducing CO2 emissions that includes not just electrification, but optimisation as well.
Challenges in Fleet Electrification
Ultimately, electrification is going to be one of the most powerful ways you can cut greenhouse emissions. And it is already having an impact in the UK. DPD, for instance, is now successfully running entirely electric fleets around 10 different UK cities and towns.
But because the market for commercial electric vehicles is so much less mature than the market for consumers, there remain a lot of unknowns. Not only is it difficult to predict when there will be enough supply to satisfy the market, there are also concerns about functionality with the existing technology.
For instance, there have been some questions about how well electric vans will function in cold weather. In particular, when carrying the heavy loads that typically come with last mile deliveries, cold temperatures can significantly impact fleet range. Even on the consumer side, Tesla has acknowledged the cold can slow down charging.
None of this is to suggest that this technology will not be transformative—it absolutely will. But it is also not yet a panacea when it comes to taking control of your carbon emissions. For most fleets right now, the short-term challenges are going to be a matter of balancing electrification with other approaches to decreasing emissions.
How a Hybrid Approach Can Help
In order to power a hybrid approach to going green, you are going to have to focus on a few different methods of boosting sustainability.
First, you will want to focus on finding ways to drive fewer miles. Anyone who has ever planned a delivery route can tell you that this is easier said than done. At the same time, the fact that the last mile is fundamentally inefficient means that most organisations actually have a lot of room to decrease miles driven. This can be accomplished through route optimisation, a process that is designed to find the shortest delivery routes, but it can also be impacted by reducing missed and failed deliveries.
Whenever a customer is not at home to accept delivery when the driver arrives, you are stuck making a redelivery attempt and essentially doubling your number of miles driven—your CO2 emissions—for that stop. If you can increase your first attempt delivery success rate by keeping your customers informed about their ETAs and then actually delivering at the right time, you can drive fewer miles and decrease your emissions even further.
Even if your fleet is fully electrified, there is still no magical solution for the problem of wastage and inefficiency. When you cannot effectively track every item and every delivery, your inventory footprint (the other large contributor to carbon emissions in delivery management) tends to increase, resulting in greater CO2 emissions from heating and cooling warehouse spaces. Only when you have real visibility into all of your deliveries on a granular level in real time can you address some of the root causes of carbon emissions in the supply chain that go beyond fuel consumption on the road.
Reducing Carbon Emissions with Smarter Delivery Management
The hybrid approach described above requires a strong technological foundation that leverages AI and SaaS technology to offer you fast, sophisticated, and connected delivery management functionality. This might include a few different things:
- AI-powered route optimisation, empowering you to drive fewer miles with more efficient routes and decrease failed deliveries by consistently arriving at the promised time.
- Two-way customer communications to keep customers informed at every stage of the delivery process and further reduce the risk of carbon-intensive failed deliveries.
- Real-time delivery visibility that can help you drive fewer miles through smarter exception management and reduce your inventory footprint through better traceability.
Ultimately, these best practices require you to find the right technology to take control of your deliveries from end to end. As you work towards electrifying your fleet or implementing other green logistics programmes, having a strong technology bedrock that provides visibility and agility will only make your carbon reduction efforts more effective.
Alex Buckley is general manager of EMEA and Asia Pacific operations at DispatchTrack. Alex is a CX industry expert with more than 25 years of e-commerce, SaaS, and software experience. Prior to DispatchTrack, he served as the Chief Customer Officer and Strategic Advisor for Customer Service Action. He has held a variety of executive roles at...