In the rapidly evolving landscape of delivery services, 2024 is shaping up to be another year marked by transformative trends that will redefine the way goods reach consumers.

As technology continues to advance and consumer expectations evolve, the industry should be primed for change.

From the convergence of artificial intelligence and delivery logistics to sustainability taking centre stage as eco-conscious consumers increasingly demand environmentally friendly delivery options, we’ve spoken to industry experts and rounded up some of the key delivery trends to look out for in 2024.

A competitive marketplace is seeing customers prioritise delivery 

In a fiercely competitive marketplace, businesses will be doubling down on enhancing the customer experience.  With more transactions taking place online, the demand for point-to-point products and services is putting growing pressure on supply chains to get things right – right up to the last mile.

Take, for instance, fresh food delivery services which have boomed in recent years; increasing competition means customer retention has become one of the industry’s biggest challenges.

With customers now so focused on their delivery experiences, delivery has quickly become an important differentiator between brands. Today, focusing on the last mile as part of your core product and brand is likely to build a loyal customer base much faster than any ad campaign.

The integration (and reaping the benefits) of AI

One of the challenges associated with traditional delivery telematics (the systems that track fleet vehicles) is dealing with the masses of data that must be analysed to be able to continually optimise delivery routes. AI identifies meaningful, actionable information from data generated by every vehicle in a fleet at every moment of the day. This means better routing, fuel savings, lower insurance rates and better driver behaviour.

Having the right dispatch tech with sophisticated telematics allows businesses to streamline processes and gain real-time insights. Businesses can help drivers boost productivity and also crucially, and oft-forgotten, improve on-road behaviour and better support of driver health and safety.

Continued development of route optimisation

As urbanisation continues to expand across Australia’s cities and regional centres, optimising delivery routes while keeping operating expenses down will be key in 2024. Effective route mapping ensures drivers follow the best possible route for each delivery they are assigned to, at the time they are assigned to it. Optimised route mapping will help improve on-time delivery performance and save businesses money.

In addition to having the right dispatch tech, companies are exploring strategies such as micro-fulfillment centres, shared delivery hubs, and urban warehouses to reduce delivery times and costs. We expect to see more innovative solutions designed to address the challenges of delivering in densely populated areas.

Sustainable delivery and the transition to electric vehicle fleets

Sustainability is no longer an optional consideration; it’s a necessity for businesses.

Consumers will likely favour businesses with sustainable practices such as green last-mile logistics. As a result, companies are increasingly adopting eco-friendly delivery options, such as electric delivery vehicles.

Major brands like Coles, Woolworths, and Bunnings are leading the charge in Australia with public commitments to zero-emissions last-mile deliveries and with Australia’s transition to EVs, smooth and sustainable last-mile delivery management will become crucial. 

Apart from the environmental benefits, EV fleet management offers compelling cost-saving advantages and improved operational efficiency, making it an attractive choice for businesses looking to optimise their fleet operations.

Fleet managers need to consider the growing use of EVs as part of their future planning, factoring in costs for battery charging, repair, and transition as we move into tomorrow’s fleet today.

Pinpoint GPS accuracy changing the game

As part of a $260 million project, the Australian government is rolling out the Positioning Australia program which will see huge improvements to the country’s positioning infrastructure and location accuracy.  Eventually, the project will support more precise positioning services and mapping applications to within 30mm accuracy – anywhere there is internet coverage.

Going far beyond the ability to locate postal addresses on a map, pinpoint location accuracy will allow businesses to take their customer experiences up a level while boosting productivity through improved resource management and offering delivery precision in ways that, so far, haven’t been possible.

Roy Moody is CEO of last mile dispatch software provider, vWork.