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4 innovative retail fulfilment methods to know

The on-demand economy has fueled consumer desire for instant gratification. Products and platforms ranging from Airbnb and Uber, to Seamless or Deliveroo, have resulted in growing appetite in the market for convenience and immediacy on virtually anything and everything we can dream of today.

Needless to say, that has therefore filtered over to retail, with mega corporations like Amazon only feeding the notion that we need access to products within the same or next day – leaving little option but for other businesses to follow suit.

By 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy products online, reports eMarketer. A core aspect of the purchasing decisions that come with this is speed of delivery. According to McKinsey & Co for instance, 25% of consumers would pay a premium to receive products same day.

This of course presents logistical challenges. The cost of global delivery amounts to €70billion a year, according to McKinsey, with the last mile portion of that being the biggest challenge to fulfill efficiently. As a result, numerous logistics businesses have been scrabbling to offer the right kind of solutions for their clients. Over the next five years, 78% of them are expected to provide same day delivery, and within 10 years, 39% anticipate two-hour delivery, reports Zebra Technologies.

In a bid to be competitive, luxury has picked up on it as well. Farfetch now offer 90-minute delivery in 10 cities globally for instance, while Net-a-Porter is also striving to improve the shopping experience by offering its top tier a ‘You Try, We Wait’ same day service.

There are many others experimenting with their own methods alongside. Here are four areas of innovation within the delivery space we’re currently tracking…

CROWDSOURCED DELIVERY

The last mile of fulfillment is the most expensive and time consuming part of the delivery process, but numerous startups are looking to disrupt this space by enabling anyone to have anything delivered on-demand by trialling such areas as crowdsourced delivery. 

Similar to the structure of Uber, this allows individual couriers to deliver parcels straight to your door, or facilitate them for pick-up or drop-off around individual homes and offices. Crowdsourced delivery is expected to be adopted by 90% of retailers by 2028, according to a report by delivery company Roadie.

One e-commerce company currently trialling such a scheme is Zalando. This allows people to volunteer their homes as pick-up and drop-off points in Scandinavia. Primarily intended to benefit the customer, it also enables self-employed, retired or stay-at-home parents to earn some extra income.

ROBOTIC POSTIES
Ford Delivery Robot

McKinsey & Co predicts that more than 80% of parcels will be delivered autonomously in the next decade. The thought of robots walking around town beside us may seem a little futuristic, but many companies have already successfully tested them.

Postmates is intending to roll out a new autonomous delivery robot in Los Angeles later this year, for instance. The self-driving rover, named Serve, uses a camera, light detector and sensor to safely navigate the sidewalk. This can create a virtual picture of the world in real time and communicate with customers via an interactive touch screen. Serve is part of Postmates’ vision of a world where goods move rapidly and efficiently throughout cities.

Ford meanwhile is experimenting with a package carrying robot that will be able to walk, climb stairs and deliver your parcel to your front door. In partnership with Agility Robotics, the robot – called Digit – can successfully carry a 40lb package.

DRONES
Amazon Prime Air Service

Next up is autonomous urban aircrafts, otherwise known as drones. This could become a $1.5 trillion industry by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley Research.

Amazon has been leading the way in the space for some time with its Prime Air service, which is under constant experimentation. Its latest announcement said consumers will be able to get parcels delivered within 30 minutes or less by drone, thanks to a sophisticated ‘sense and avoid’ technology allowing it to safely maneuver in the sky. Executive Jeff Wilke stated that between 75%-90% of deliveries could technically be handled by drones in the future.

Strictly speaking, however, when that will be is still unclear. While the technology is improving constantly – using a combination of thermal cameras, depth cameras and sophisticated machine learning – there remains the small issue of authorization. Regulation is continuing to evolve, with a recent test moving things forward in the US market, and further developments happening in Europe, but Amazon’s view of commercial drone deliveries ready within just a few months, seems unlikely.

It’s not alone in trying however. Wing, a drone service from Alphabet – Google’s parent company – has completed a successful trial in Australia and is now doing so in Finland. Similarly, UPS is currently testing drones for the use of medical supplies and samples in North Carolina. Its long term plan is to eventually roll out the drones for the industrial, manufacturing and retail markets. UPS is another that has applied for a Federal Aviation Administration certificate that it hopes will allow it to operate the drones on mass.

ALL ACCESS
Waitrose While You’re Away Yale Technology

In a bid to combat the fact so many parcels see unsuccessful delivery attempts due to the absence of the recipient, there are also numerous experiments in the market to get around the need for humans to be present when the action takes place. This is especially being considered in the online grocery market, which is expected to grow 52% over the next give years to £17.3billion, meaning investments in home deliveries will need to be expanded.

One example we’ve seen comes again from Amazon, which has developed a system that allows couriers to deliver parcels to a customer’s car. The Key-In-Car service is available for all Prime members with a Volvo or General Motors vehicle dated after 2015. Through encryption, the courier can unlock the trunk without needing a key. This is available in 37 cities across the US. Similarly, Skoda is developing a technology that allows delivery firms one-time access to the trunk of the car. The biggest challenge to this opportunity is the threat of security. The risks can be mitigated however by couriers wearing body cameras and sending photographic evidence upon delivery, but retailers must gain consumer trust in the process first.

British supermarket Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership, has gone even further by testing a ‘While you’re Away’ service in south London. This initiative gives delivery drivers a unique code that gives them temporary access to the customer’s property, allowing them to put away the shopping on their behalf. The lock technology has been developed by Yale and will be free to install for customers. To give them piece of mind, each driver will indeed wear a video camera to record their steps, which the customer can request access to.

How are you thinking about innovative delivery solutions? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more. 

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Farfetch celebrates Christmas with designer augmented reality wrapping paper

Farfetch.com’s augmented reality gift wrap by (left to right) Meadham Kirchhoff, Melinda Gibson, Margot Bowman and Gary Card

Online marketplace Farfetch.com is launching augmented reality gift wrap for the holiday season using image recognition technology from Aurasma.

Based on exclusive illustrations from four emerging creatives, the wrapping paper can be scanned using the Aurasma app on smartphone or tablet devices to reveal behind-the-scenes videos of the respective design process.

These fly-on-the-wall films document the gift wrap from sketchpad to sign-off, alongside interviews with each of the four creatives: design duo Meadham Kirchhoff (film shown below), photographer Melinda Gibson, artist and DJ Margot Bowman, and set designer and illustrator Gary Card.

The designs will be printed on 40,000 reams of wrapping paper and dispatched with all Farfetch orders from now until December 19.

CEO and founder of Farfetch.com, Jose Neves, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with four dynamic names from the worlds of art and design, bringing these one-off creations to our online platform and sharing with a worldwide, fashion-forward audience. The campaign as a whole will offer users and customers exclusive access to the entire ‘Unwrap’ journey, creating what we hope will be an unrivalled online shopping experience.”

That ‘Unwrap’ concept will also see each design featured as wallpaper on the site (as with Meadham Kirchoff below) for a week, and a social Pass the Parcel game. Here, consumers are invited to click to win daily designer gifts and then share the parcel with their friends to gain more entries into the grand prize draw. The game also includes a world map that features a live feed of players around the globe.

In another phyiscal translation of the campaign, the Meadham Kirchoff print is also wrapping two London taxis (also shown below) from November 26 for a week. Passengers jumping in for a ride will receive festive cakes from food blogger April Carter of Rhubarb & Rose, and another chance to win designer gifts from Farfetch.com.

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e-commerce Startups

farfetch.com receives $18m in funding

E-commerce site farfetch.com has raised $18m in a second round of funding from Index Ventures, eVenture Capital Partners and existing investors Advent Venture Partners.

A curated marketplace comprised of independent fashion boutiques from around the world, the site has a current annual sales growth rate of 204%.

It now hosts 35,000 products from both established and emerging designer labels; representing over 200 boutiques in 12 countries.

The funding round will enable it to both deepen its presence in existing markets across Europe and North America, and further its efforts in the likes of Brazil and Asia.

Half of all sales on farfetch.com are delivered to emerging and new markets. According to CEO and founder José Neves, this new round of investment only stands to encourage this figure.

He said: “farfetch.com is growing extremely fast, and now has a strong international presence… We felt it was the right time to scale up our team and operations and seize some fantastic opportunities.”

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Exclusive: Farfetch.com’s SIXby6bloggers collection revealed

 

Farfetch.com has released a video in celebration of its new SIXby6bloggers project, which sees six top fashion bloggers each designing a pair of one-off shoes in collaboration with shoe studio SIX London.

Featuring the creations of Susie Lau (Style Bubble), Yvan Rodic (Face Hunter), Caroline Blomst (Carolines Mode), Steve Salter (Style Salvage), Leandra Medine (The Man Repeller) and Alix Bancourt (The Cherry Blossom Girl), the video features both a male and female model sporting each pair against a studio background.

The shoes will be available on Farfetch.com from tomorrow, Thursday, November 24.

A previous video followed the journey of each of the bloggers, from the initial sketches to the production factories in Portugal.