The Collaborative Economy Creates New Opportunities for a More Efficient, Eco-Friendly Last-mile Delivery

By Pierre-Emmanuel Jan, CEO, You2You

The dramatic growth of e-commerce is straining traditional urban delivery services, which are seen as increasingly inefficient and pollutant.

In 2017, 1.2 billion online transactions were made in France: that’s an average 3.2 million transactions per day, and over 450 million packages delivered over the course of the year! As the volume of e-commerce deliveries continues to rise, the challenges of reaching end-customers are magnified and compounded: too many packages to deliver, increasingly congested urban traffic, a lack of manpower necessary to make every delivery. What’s more, according to FEVAD (French E-Commerce Federation) approximately 21% of home deliveries fail on the first attempt because the end-customer isn’t home to receive the package. Recognizing that home-delivery options have become a major selling-point, supply-chain logisticians, e-commerce players, and startups are working hard to offer a more flexible and rapid experience. In the US, customers can remotely grant a deliverer access to their homes; thousands of automatic lockers are being installed in public places; and autonomous vehicles are being developed to carry and deliver anything and everything, from flowers and groceries to large packages.

Urban Logistics: a major ecological impact

The rise of e-commerce has forced cities to grapple with issues of congestion and air pollution, as urban centers are increasingly inundated by last-mile delivery-related traffic. In the Paris metropolitan area alone, which receives an estimated 4.4 million deliveries each week, last-mile deliveries account for 25% of all CO2 emissions and 30% of road congestion! Every major city in France, Europe, and the world faces similar challenges, and most have – or are considering – increasingly restrictive urban transportation regulations. Many cities have restricted diesel vehicles and heavy traffic in an effort to reduce pollution; as of 2018 Brussels no longer allows trucks heavier than 7.5 tons to access its downtown area, and London’s Lorry Control Scheme reduces access to certain zones during the evenings and weekends. As cities pursue these environmental and quality-of-life regulations, logisticians are forced to rethink their last-mile urban deliveries.

End-customers, excessively high standards.

Finally, the dominance of e-commerce pure-players has created a strange phenomenon: customers have developed the bad habit of expecting that their home deliveries will be made within a chosen time slot and, of course, for free! The influence of Amazon and their premium Amazon Prime service has set the industry benchmark, fueling a race to keep up among all the other market players. Today, 58.9% of e-commerce customers do not want to pay more than 10 euros for same-day and on-appointment deliveries. And customer expectations only keep rising, forcing the entire e-commerce and logistician ecosystem to reconcile itself to an unsolvable equation.

But what if the sharing economy could provide a long-term solution?

Carsharing has become the greatest success story of the collaborative economy, a model for the future of mobility (a recent McKinsey study estimates that at least one in ten cars will be shared by 2030 in Europe). So, what if we used the same model for short-distance deliveries? The concept is deceptively simple: allow individuals the opportunity to deliver a package along on their daily commute, whenever it suits them, in exchange for financial compensation. Such a system would improve efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, lower costs, and increase flexibility, allowing for an unparalleled last-mile success rate. The unlimited size of such a collaborative community easily outnumbers the team of any professional carrier, providing a workforce large and flexible enough for any volume, yet easier and more economical to manage. What’s more, the agility provided by the number of individuals in such a community allows the end-customer more flexibility in choosing a delivery time slot, maximizing the first-pass success rate. Finally, by distributing supply-chain and delivery flows to individuals already on the move (a significant number of whom are travelling on foot, by bicycle, or via public transportation), the collaborative delivery model allows for a major reduction in CO2 emissions and traffic congestion due to urban, last-mile deliveries.

For all these reasons, we at You2You believe it is time to largely promote disruptive models with stronger ecological and social impacts.

About You2You : launched in 2016 You2You is a French collaborative-delivery startup. With 40 000 users active in 4 major French cities, we deliver more than 400 customers on a daily basis. With this expertise we launched in 2018 a major partnership with DHL, putting in place a network of Urban Relay Points, allowing our community to execute DHL’s last-mile urban deliveries via our Relayed services.