A cost effective way of keeping tabs on deliveries

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Chris Riley, marketing coordinator at technology developer Hanhaa, provides an insight into the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) when tracking deliveries

The logistics industry and technology have not always gone hand in hand. Many postal operators today are trying to improve this, but the plans and ideas being worked on are often way into the future and largely offer no connection to the current delivery capabilities of those on the ground. Amazon’s Prime Air service is a key example of such innovation. An ingenious idea but it has no real pathway for successful integration into every-day delivery. But why is there such a disconnect between what is being thought up and what is being offered?

The key, it would appear, lies in scale and margins. With e-commerce becoming an ever-growing part of the way we shop, the consumer wants their goods cheap and they want them now. This leads delivery companies to work on diminishing margins with little room for pricey technology to be made available at the scale that is needed for it to be effective.

For the consumer, there is a mismatch between the ability to order something via their mobile device from just about anywhere, and the information they are then able to receive once that order is made. While we are spending vast amounts of money online, we are also losing a lot of it. In the UK alone in the past five years, there are more than 19 million people that never received an order they made online, and the frustration is growing. The public has been fed images of drones dropping off parcels and robots operating warehouses, meanwhile what they see in practice can be quite different, often resulting in failed or late deliveries.

But solutions are coming. Delivery windows are narrowing meaning that people no longer have to take entire days off work in order to receive their goods. Similarly the market for parcel collection points such as Doddle in the UK is expanding and becoming ever more competitive. For delivery companies these improvements are not optional and have to be explored. Missed deliveries cost money. Customer complaints cost money, and lost parcels are certainly costing money.

While parcel lockers and delivery windows are providing marked improvements in logistics, they are not really bridging the gap in technology. However, there are solutions on the horizon. London based IoT startup Hanhaa is currently running live trials of its new parcel tracking solution Parcelive.

Parcelive is a low cost, reusable and sustainable parcel tracking device, offered as a service, that allows users to not only track the location of their parcel but also its condition (whether it was dropped, opened, exceeded temperature range, got wet) in real time, no matter the carrier or country.

The idea is simple, with devices rented from Hanhaa and received ready-to-use in time for the shipment. The device is placed inside the parcel where it stays for the entire journey, sending back valuable data on the parcel’s location and condition. Once the parcel has reached its destination the receiver simply places the device into a post box and returns it to Hanhaa. The device comes with pre-paid postage meaning there is no need for stamps or envelopes – simply remove the device and post it.

While for the individual consumer, Parcelive offers the ability to ride along with their order, the implications for delivery companies are much larger. Because tracking is offered as a re-usable service, the costs are kept low, ensuring that the solution can be offered to scale while providing key advantages in customer service, dispute resolution and network optimization.

Because the consumer or end user now has a direct relationship with their order the need for hours on end spent on the phone with customer services is removed. There is now a clear path that shows when an order was received, or, if not, then who opened it, dropped it, or where it may have ended up.

This means chargebacks and reimbursements can now be issued, or not, based upon hard data. The third benefit in operating with Parcelive at scale comes from knowing exactly what is going on across a supply chain. Where are items likely to be held up? Where are they likely to be opened? Where are items likely to get broken? With data on these points companies now have the ability to completely streamline their network, removing any areas where breaches and hold ups are occurring.

August 24, 2016

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