Retailers are going through an environmental awakening, and the industry is tackling how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain.
Green Retail World caught up with Alex Buckley, general manager of EMEA and Asia Pacific operations at delivery software company DispatchTrack, to hear his views on how retailers can shape their thinking to ensure their fleets and logistics operations are as efficient as they can be.
In this interview, you can also hear the views of Graeme Wilson, managing director of DispatchTrack partner Vision Logistics.
Alex Buckley at DispatchTrack gives his view on greener deliveries
Green Retail World (GRW): How do you rate UK retailers’ efforts to reduce their carbon footprint around delivery?
Alex Buckley (AB): Some UK retailers have come a long way already in their efforts to reduce emissions by starting to electrify their fleets and working to reduce miles driven, and you can see some success stories (including Vision Logistics) where retailers have managed to successfully decrease their CO2 output. But there is still a long way to go for the masses.
Many, if not most, retailers still need to take the first steps of quantifying their emissions, setting reduction goals, and assessing the tools available to them for decreasing their carbon footprint.
GRW: The introduction of electric and alternatively-fuelled delivery vehicles is happening, albeit slowly, in UK retail. While we wait for the infrastructure to be put in place for wider rollout of greener vehicles, what tips do you have for retailers to make delivery greener?
AB: Electrification has the power to be transformative for reducing emissions—but it is going to be a long time before supply catches up with demand. In the meantime, retailers have to focus on decreasing CO2 by becoming more efficient and driving fewer miles. The best advice we have for making that happen is to focus on optimising routes to reduce the number of miles per delivery, while focusing on elements like customer communication and last mile visibility to reduce the need for carbon-intensive redelivery attempts.
GRW: How is DispatchTrack helping make the delivery industry greener?
AB: DispatchTrack’s platform is designed to help retailers plan and execute smarter, more efficient last mile deliveries. On average, we are able to use our route optimisation technology to help our customers decrease miles driven by 10%–which results in a 10% decrease in CO2 emissions. At the same time, we ensure connectivity between drivers, customers, and planners throughout the delivery process to ensure first-attempt delivery success. This has the effect of cutting emissions even further by reducing the need for redelivery attempts.
GRW: Talk to us about what makes DispatchTrack different to other delivery software companies…
AB: Our company has 13 years’ experience in last mile delivery technology. As such, we have more depth and breadth of functionality than any of the newer entrants into the space. As we take a uniquely holistic approach to last mile delivery, our software can handle niche use cases that other SaaS last mile platforms simply do not consider. At the same time, the fact that we are a constantly evolving, cloud-native business means that we are able to evolve and adapt alongside our customers as their needs and use cases change. Plus, we are the only ones who can offer 98% accurate delivery ETAs. DispatchTrack is the only solution that goes beyond optimisation to provide delivery planning, execution, and visibility in a single platform. As our longtime customer American Furniture Warehouse puts it: “DispatchTrack is more than just fleet management; it’s customer satisfaction management.”
GRW: How do you see DispatchTrack’s role in the UK retail industry mapping out over the next five years?
AB: It is a delight working alongside businesses like Vision Logistics in the past few years to help them boost efficiency and transform their last mile delivery operations—and it has been equally delightful to watch them grow in that time span. In the next five years we want to act not just as a technology partner but a growth partner for retailers and 3PLs all across the UK that want to get more carbon efficient while keeping customer experience front and centre.
DispatchTrack and Vision Logistics
DispatchTrack works with Vision Logistics in the UK. GRW got the lowdown on the partnership from Vision’s managing director, Graeme Wilson (GW).
GRW: What does your relationship with DispatchTrack look like, and why did you start working with the business?
GW: Before DispatchTrack, we were sure that we had the ability to get more out of our delivery capacity, improve our data management, and give our customers an unparalleled delivery experience—we simply did not have all the right tools for the job. By adopting DispatchTrack’s platform, we put ourselves in a position to achieve deliveries that fit in with our view of what delivery excellence looked like. Working with them has been great, because we really see eye to eye about what is important when it comes to last mile deliveries, and they’ve really done a great job supporting our vision… excuse the pun.
GRW: What have been the key benefits to your organisation of working alongside DispatchTrack, and how has your partnership with your healthcare customers improved as a result?
GW: At a high level, working with DispatchTrack has helped us drive fewer miles per stop, complete more stops per day, reduce our carbon emissions per stop, and provide best-in-class experience to our healthcare customers. At the same time, DispatchTrack’s platform is set up to ensure that great data visibility and compliance have become second nature, which has absolutely improved our partnership and paved the way for business growth.
GRW: What are the main value-adds your partnership with DispatchTrack can provide your existing retailer partners and potential future retailer partners?
GW: One of the most important value adds for our retailer partners is the same as it is for working with our healthcare customers: visibility. Not only can partners feel confident in the way their delivery data is being treated and stored, but they can also track deliveries in real time and see how individual deliveries are playing out in terms of on-time performance, etc. Of course, everyone also benefits from more efficient routes, since we can serve more customers in a given day.
GRW: What are the key areas to address for the delivery industry to become more sustainable and better for the environment?
GW: Right now, the biggest key is driving as few miles per delivery as possible. This means being smarter about everything from how companies use their fleets, how delivery routes are actually created, and how customers are engaged in the process. Because CO2 emissions are ultimately impacted by so many areas of the delivery process, the first step is to get a better, more holistic understanding of the delivery process and actually quantify your carbon emissions for each stop, route, etc. From there, the key is to increase efficiency however possible, particularly when it comes to finding the shortest possible delivery routes.
GRW: How can logistics businesses and retailers work together better to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations?
GW: The key here is really setting expectations and ensuring inter-operational visibility. When logistics providers and the retailers they work for have a shared vision of how to actually reduce CO2 emissions, they can be smart about how they are going to set expectations both internally and with customers. For some products, for instance, retailers might agree to slower delivery turnarounds in order to give their logistics providers the leeway to group deliveries in a more efficient, less carbon-intensive way. Here, having trust between organisations is crucially important—which makes total visibility across the entire delivery process a must.
[Image credits: DispatchTrack/Vision Logistics]