2020 was a peak season like no other for post, parcel and express businesses. Coming off the back of a year of unplanned peak-like conditions, caused by the pandemic and the huge consumer shift towards e-commerce, it created a capacity crunch which put operations under serious pressure and sent costs soaring.
The traditional peak season was called ‘Ship-ageddon’ by some. The Parcel Shipping Index revealed US parcel volume grew 37% year-on-year, reaching 20 billion, up from 15 billion in 2019 (source: Pitney Bowes).
And peak conditions carried on into this year, long after volumes traditionally recede. In fact, Scandit conducted an analysis amongst our logistics customers which found that parcel volumes in March 2021 remained higher than September to November in 2020.
So what will this peak bring? And what can we do better to not only survive, but thrive?
The next peak is almost here
A few things to consider:
- E-commerce demand is here to stay: Delivery volumes are only likely to grow higher – 41% of consumers continue to shop online more today than they did before the pandemic.
- Expect the unexpected: Traditional patterns are shifting, many expect peak shopping season to start earlier this year, rather than the typical Black Friday to Christmas window.
- Costs are critical: The growing consumer demand for faster and cheaper shipping makes streamlining last mile operations and costs even more essential.
There are also additional stress factors like driver shortages, depleted inventory, unpredictable shipping capacities, ever-growing customer expectations and even natural disasters – all of which can affect last mile delivery companies in effectively scaling during peak season.
So learning the lessons from the 2020, it’s clear that building in the highest levels of flexibility, resilience and efficiency into delivery operations is critical to cope with the unexpected. And it’s not too late to do so.
One proven technology that is affordable, scalable and future-proof to help tackle peaks and unlock these benefits is to leverage scanning-enabled smart devices in the last mile. Watch it in action:
A smarter way to approach peak
Here we’ll go through a few ways enterprises can capitalize on high performance barcode scanning and augmented reality software on smartphones either at or ahead of peak season.
1. Lower costs by switching from scanners to smartphones
Sourcing dedicated scanners to equip temporary workers, despite their ruggedness and good scan performance, is a high cost, high maintenance, low flexibility investment – with limited potential for future innovation.
On the other hand, it is quick and simple to deploy lower-cost, easily sourced corporate-owned smart devices with scanning-enabled apps for last mile drivers. No need to purchase hardware based on preliminary forecasts, while smartphones provide a future-proof platform for ongoing innovation too.
Scale at the speed of need
Unlike when using traditional handheld scanners to power last mile workflows, with smartphones you can rapidly, cost effectively scale delivery capacity up – and critically down – with peak needs and when they have passed.
You can consolidate with one device for routing, communication, scanning and more. Plus scanning-enabled smartphones can be rapidly brought into multiple workflows, including sorting and loading, proof of delivery, age verification and more.
It also means you aren’t potentially left with a stock of expensive, single function scanning devices that may sit unused when you aren’t running at peak capacity. Which would be far from ideal when tapping into the gig economy.
And with the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK, there’s no need to worry about scan performance, as it can match or exceed hardware scanners performance, even in the hands of inexperienced drivers or in challenging winter conditions.
Learn more in our guide ‘Scale any Last Mile Peak with Smartphone Scanning’ here.
2. Adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy
Another way delivery enterprises can use smartphones to tackle peak season? Enable seasonal workers or contractors with scanning-enabled mobile apps on their personal smartphones.
Typically known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), deploying a delivery app rather than hardware helps to scale with more speed and less cost – with no need to procure devices at all. And with their own familiar, easy-to-use smart devices, employees can be trained faster and are able to become proficient very quickly.
Even allowing for the costs of accessories, employee allowances and scanning software, BYOD savings can be significant. Scandit customers have seen up to 40% increase in delivery drivers hired for peaks with no increase in hardware costs with BYOD.
And unlike with open source scanning software, Scandit brings enterprise-grade scanning performance to your apps, no matter the make or model of the drivers’ device – often a pitfall of BYOD.
No one size fits all approach
Of course, BYOD isn’t for everyone – deploying corporate-owned personally-enabled (COPE) smartphones is another way to mobilize the last mile. Here employees use a business-owned device for running corporate apps and scanning software. This model is distinct from traditional business-owned devices because personal use is also fully or partially enabled – a handy perk for busy drivers to find work/life balance during peak shifts.
It’s also common to adopt a hybrid approach when it comes to mobile deployment and ownership strategies, even across different divisions, employee groups or even processes.
Find out more about the merits of BYOD vs COPE vs Hybrid strategies and access more resources here.
3. Squeeze more from your existing capacity
Another way to prepare for peak? Make sure you are maximising existing capacity.
Last mile workflows are at the core of the enterprise value chain. Any delay, error or downtime within these workflows easily becomes a cost center, while negatively impacting on your customers’ satisfaction.
Integrating Scandit scanning into delivery apps operating on smartphones is a simple way to help existing employees become more efficient to tackle ever growing volumes.
And whether you use BYOD or COPE, you can take advantage of innovative capabilities such as multi-scanning or augmented reality (AR) to speed up the training and onboarding of seasonal workers, plus improve their efficiency in completing routes too.
Leveraging AR can provide more speed and guidance in day-to-day processes, like loading the van or search and find by scanning multiple barcodes at once and with intuitive real-time information or instructions overlaid on the device screen. Watch how it can help:
And with more devices scanning packages more often, systems are kept up-to-date, customers are informed and the business understands how much capacity it has and can act accordingly.
So when you are looking for ways to get more from your current resources and drivers, switching to software scanning is a smart solution to optimize the last mile.
Avoid last mile pitfalls during peak season with Scandit
If you have any specific questions about mobile computer vision and how it can support your Post & Parcel enterprise then don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’d love to help.