The use of local micro-fulfilment centres (MFCs) across London could reduce traffic volume by 13% and reduce harmful vehicle-related air emissions by 17% in the city, according to a new report from Accenture.
It suggests that the solution, which allows inventory to be stored closer to customers in convenient suburban locations and enables faster last-mile deliveries and pick-up in person, could equate to about 320 million fewer miles travelled by delivery vehicles.
MFCs include in-store click and collect points, automated locker storage facilities, and stand-alone micro-warehouse facilities. The strategy is particularly useful to enable same-day or next-day deliveries.
“Last-mile delivery has always had a significant impact on air emissions and traffic congestion, but in the current climate, the environmental and societal challenges it presents are even more pressing,” said Henry Cartwright, Accenture’s post and parcel industry lead for Europe.
“With the uptick in demand for ecommerce during the Covid-19 pandemic looking set to stay, the need to address the carbon footprint of the last mile supply-chain has never been more pressing. If left unchecked, we’re likely to see an increase in vehicle movements and traffic congestion on the roads as we emerge from the lockdown, impacting on air quality as a result of higher levels of vehicle-related emissions.”
MFCs also allow smaller vehicles, such as scooters, to be used on the second leg of the journey which can help to return reduce delivery traffic by an additional 3% in London, according to the study.
However, it will require a concerted effort from all involved, according to Cartwright. “No single entity can solve the challenge of last-mile delivery alone. Consumers, retailers, local authorities and delivery organisations must cooperate and work together to improve the sustainability of last mile delivery and to make it more efficient and cost-effective – it will take an ecosystem of partners working together across London to create the lasting change that is critically needed.”