Ian Smith: Time slot deliveries: Worth it or a waste of time?


We’re in the midst of one of the busiest times in the logistics calendar. The last quarter of the year brings a number of high-pressure points which rely heavily on time slot deliveries, including Black Friday as well as Christmas and New Year sales.

As convenience is at the forefront of customers’ minds, the industry has had to adapt to the needs of those who expect deliveries to be made the same or next day. Not only can we as consumers choose what day we would like something to be delivered, we now have the privilege of choosing a specific time slot.

Time slot deliveries apply to all aspects of the logistics industry, but they are particularly prevalent among postage companies such as Royal Mail and DPD, which offer innovative services to meet the demands of their customers. For example, DPD provides its customers with a one-hour delivery window, enabling them to track their parcel. This means they don’t have to wait in all day.

Vehicle transportation companies who often have to move vehicles long distances in short spaces of time also rely on these kinds of deliveries.

When you have to frantically order a last-minute Christmas present to be delivered on Christmas Eve or when you need your groceries delivering after you get home from work, time slot deliveries are easy to call on at just the touch of a button.

While advances in technology have made the order and delivery process much easier for consumers, this can come at a cost to both sides. The logistics industry is constantly faced with the challenge of delivering goods as well as exceptional customer service. However, even when there isn’t an extra cost attached, the one thing that must be right when being offered is time slot deliveries.

Time slot deliveries are important for businesses not only to show that they can keep up with customer demand but also to maintain a reputation. A perfect example of why this is important relates to recent research which reveals that Black Friday deals were estimated to have cost UK retailers £203 million in returns.

Businesses that fail to keep up with the demands of their consumers’ needs face being left behind while others in the industry revel in their success. Giving customers the option to choose a time slot delivery can make them feel appreciated and that their needs are being met, and can in turn determine their future loyalty.

Unlike guaranteed next-day deliveries which can often be an impossible task, time slot deliveries offer a specific time frame suited to the needs of the customer, chosen by the customer. In order to determine repeat business, it is essential that deliveries are made as promised.

According to research from a recent survey, London shoppers are calling for more flexible delivery options, 96% of those surveyed saying that providing delivery at an exact time slot determines who they shop with.

Logistics is constantly adapting its needs and most recently Hamburg has taken the lead as the first German seaport to introduce a slot-booking system for container trucks, even allowing them pre-allocated time windows.

Are we perhaps looking at a new industry norm for logistics? This time next year could mean the use of time slot deliveries is more popular wherever there is the opportunity.

It never ceases to amaze where or when people will innovate next. What does 2018 hold?


About Author


Ian Smith is a director at vehicle transport specialists VisionDrive, based in the city of Lincoln. Ian has a degree and masters in Criminology, which led to his launching of the first construction rehabilitation training programme led by a construction employer in UK Prisons. The programme directly supported over 1500 prisoners throughout its operation. With VisionDrive, Ian’s greatest ambition is to change the way automotive logistics operates, especially the single car market. Ian hopes to develop more economic practices and to use technology to improve efficiencies. He has also set himself and the wider team the ambitious task of developing the brand into a strong franchise and to take the firm’s ideas to an international level. The company currently makes more than 300 single vehicle moves per month for a variety of dealerships and distributors. VisionDrive specialises in bespoke, fast and professional vehicle deliveries of single vehicles and is expanding into multi-vehicle and transporter movements in 2018.

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