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Rethinking Deliveries as the Population Grows

Shiply, a Shell LiveWIRE winning business.">

Tue, 12 September 2017

Contributed by Laura Hall, Marketing Executive at Shiply, a Shell LiveWIRE winning business.
In late July it was announced that there will be a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK from 2040. Looking ahead from 2017 this seems far away enough, yet there is a sense that there will be a lot of change in the lead up to this deadline. Every day we read stories of the next developments in technology, many of which are related to transport like self-driving or electric cars, and the idea of the everyday person driving an autonomous Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe is becoming a more believable concept.
What this announcement doesn’t address is the sheer number of cars on UK roads, which is currently approaching 32million[1]. People use cars for 89% of their journeys, and moving goods by road is three times more common than by water and air combined[2]
With public transport prices not showing any signs of getting cheaper, and the sheer number of new delivery companies, it seems that traffic on the road is only going to increase as the population does. 
There are two strong, current trends that seem like they don’t and can’t fit together, and this is potentially a fascinating opportunity for entrepreneurs to find cohesive solutions in this start-up age:
  • Consumers care about a company’s social responsibility
    An article by Unilever earlier this year shows that a third of consumers prefer buying from brands ‘doing social or environmental good’[3]. Brands are constantly popping up with various solutions to the world’s problems, with many dedicated to zero waste, offsetting carbon emissions or making products out of 100% recyclable materials. Hugely innovative ideas such as the Ooho! edible water bottle by Skipping Rocks Lab, and Witt Energy’s ability to turn motion into energy are just two examples that have received tremendous support on crowdfunding websites. 

    Existing brands recognise this popularity for social responsibility, and many have responded by adapting their products, like Coca-Cola’s increase in using recycled plastic in their bottles, and McDonalds using recycled paper packaging.
  • There is huge demand for fast and cheap delivery
    It is so easy to have almost anything delivered. The success of services like Amazon Prime Now, which launched in London in June 2015, shows that consumers love receiving products on the same day as ordering them, and in certain places within 1-2 hours of ordering them. The same love extends to food delivery, with hugely successful companies like Deliveroo and UberEats, not to mention meal subscription boxes like HelloFresh and Gousto. Although these delivery companies are saving the individual consumers from getting in their vehicles to head to the supermarket, is it enough of an offset to justify all these delivery vehicles on the road and the tons of packaging they all seem to come with?
  • How many vehicles will be on the road in 2040?
    How can these previous points combine? With the number of cars on the road increasing, there seems a need for solutions that prevent adding traffic to the already busy roads, whilst fulfilling the high demand for fast deliveries and sustainable products.
Upcoming entrepreneurs have a big job on their hands, but one that could have impact far beyond their own companies.

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