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or a new computer monitor — not just stuff that fits neatly into a box. How can retailers manage to deliver every single SKU, especially when traditional carriers are avoiding them, or instituting huge surcharges to handle them? 3. Unlimited Scalability Traditional fixed-asset networks are capacity constrained, that’s not news. For hub-and-spoke models, adding capacity requires physical facilities and vehicles that can take months to deploy. Even as the major players have ramped up operations, they’re still turning to pricing surges and volume caps to manage demand. Retailers need a scalable solution that can expand to meet delivery demand in real time, and industry leaders are turning to crowdsourced delivery for the last mile. A crowdsourced network draws on consumers already in the right place in their personal vehicles, store employees, customers, and even local commuters for unlimited, rapid scalability. In a surging e-commerce economy, you need solutions

to quickly add delivery capacity exactly where it’s needed in real time. 4. Unprecedented Reach Consumers everywhere are demanding faster fulfillment. It’s not enough to provide coverage in major metro areas. Home improvement stores and other retailers operate in mid-size, suburban, exurban, and rural communities, as well; same-day networks have to be able to reach into these communities with the same service reliability. Looking Ahead Before 2020, last-mile, same-day delivery already was the fastest growing segment of transportation. The pandemic simply became an accelerant to that growth. Shopping behaviors have changed permanently. As more and more consumers figure out how easy it is to get stuff delivered to their doors in a few hours, why waste time going to the store? The surge in traffic experienced by traditional parcel carriers and courier

businesses is expected to continue at least through 2021 and well into next year. Some parcel carriers have already imposed new surcharges and are beginning to signal the need for volume restrictions to prevent their networks from being overwhelmed again. Under intense pressure, costs have escalated, rates have risen, and service declined. It’s an infrastructure built to deliver, at its fastest, next-day service. But increasingly, retailers are realizing that “good enough” is no longer good enough. Flexible, scalable, reliable same-day delivery requires doing something vastly different than we’ve done before: taking the supply chain directly into the communities and towns where your customers live.

Marc Gorlin is Founder & CEO, Roadie (www. roadie.com). He will be speaking more on this topic on Wednesday, September 15 at this year’s PARCEL Forum in DC. Visit www. PARCELForum.com for more information.

SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2021  PARCELindustry.com 31

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