With the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating a trend towards home-working and online shopping, in excess of 2.5 billion parcels were delivered across the UK over 2020. 25% of the UK population stating that they will now continue with their new online shopping behaviour, even when things return to normal.
Therefore, e-commerce and home deliveries are set to continue to grow beyond a current 30% share of total retail expenditure. At the same time, the customer experience of delivery services can be below our expectations, and not as convenient as we thought. Some are also debating whether online shopping is a ‘greener’ choice than driving to the shops.
For this reason, the UK Government Cabinet Office Geospatial Commission has funded a research study to understand the opportunity to create an integrated local mobility hub for parcel and food deliveries in market towns, such as Whitstable, Canterbury, Stratford-upon-Avon, Leighton Buzzard and Buxton.
A proposed hub for each town would be served by a fleet of electric vans and electrically powered bicycles designed for couriers (known as e-cargo bikes) and enable a more efficient system for organising the deliveries of goods to your home. This could include goods you have ordered online, by telephone, or in-store for home delivery.
In practice this would require national parcel carrier firms to drop off their parcels at the hub, for automatic sorting and assignment to local courier delivery schedules. It is hoped that home deliveries can be arranged in a way that generates less pollution, reduced traffic and improves the experience of consumers and suppliers alike.
To achieve this, TravelSpirit and Iconic Blockchain have combined forces, under ‘Damascus Mile’ to research both the technology and real-world impact opportunities for fusing blockchain and Galileo satellite technologies together to allow the parcels to be tracked and consolidated in a secure, transparent and auditable way.
Blockchain technology and its Smart Contract capabilities is already well- established as a promising solution for governments and the supply-chain; to enable shared business processes that require high levels of trust, transparency and accountability. This includes major government backed programs by the EU, US, India and China.
The Galileo program is Europe’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system (GNSS), providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control and the first to offer authenticated navigation messages to all civilian users in the world. The program also provides higher levels of accuracy and authentication for commercial applications.
To research and validate the business and operational model for the local hub and deliveries, Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council and Canterbury City Council have lent their support to act as case-studies for the research, as part of their wider agenda’s to develop net-zero carbon plans.
Janet Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG University of Warwick is providing expert advice to the project. She said “This is an important piece of research. It has strong alignment with the government’s Green Industrial Revolution strategy and could have a widespread positive impact on many UK towns outside the larger metropolitan cities.”
Stratford and Canterbury will also be the focus of our ‘user research’, to better understand the needs and service value propositions for residents and businesses receiving the parcels, local courier drivers and retailers offering a home delivery option to their customers.