InsightsThe optimal solution to labour scarcity

Although e-commerce can trace its roots back to the mid-1990s, the sector shows no signs of slowing down. Even today, it continues to expand and evolve, and will have a long-term impact on the way parcel companies operate.

There are a number of societal trends that suggest these organisations will have to work harder than ever to match online consumer demand. For instance, wealth is increasing across the globe.

Economies are also growing, according to the consumer confidence and business index, which indicates that consumers and businesses alike not only have money to spend, but also the trust in the market to spend or invest it.

The rise of online sales

This is driven by convenience and the rise of online sales. For example, a recent report showed that 58% of people preferred a 24/7 marketplace, as well as the ability to compare prices (54%)1.

The result has been a rapid growth in the parcel market, particularly in Europe, where e-commerce sales grew by an average of 18% in 20172. However, consumer demand for maximum convenience will put continued pressure on parcel companies.


People power?

One of the most significant challenges facing parcel companies is the global scarcity of labour. It’s increasingly difficult to retain – and find new – employees in areas where there is a labour shortage.

In Europe, unemployment rates have fallen over the past five years, making it harder than ever to attract new staff. In addition, labour costs are on the rise, creating additional challenges for parcel companies. Therefore, they must be able to cope with increasing parcel volumes, but at a time when labour is becoming scarcer across the globe.

Customised automation

Automation is the ideal solution for logistics companies in an age of workforce unpredictability. It is estimated that many depots will be fully automated by 2030, with the majority of repetitive manual tasks replaced by systems such as smart storage, picking robots and AGVs3.

However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to automation. Each facility serves a different demographic, with varying peaks and geographical considerations. This means that an automated solution must be tailored specifically to purpose.

Flexible, scalable and modular

Vanderlande provides ‘smart’ ¬– not standard – automated solutions and is a highly experienced systems integrator. We take an end-to-end view, in which we can seamlessly link the various processes in order to improve overall performance.

If market demands fluctuate, scalability and flexibility are crucial. That’s why our solutions – such as the CROSSORTER, ADAPTO and POSISORTER – are modular to provide the necessary adaptability. In addition, we promote a ‘pull’ concept in which items are retrieved from storage only when required, further improving efficiency.

This approach is supported by our experience and know-how as a systems integrator, as well as our intelligent software and life-cycle services. Regardless of your position on the journey towards automation, we endeavour to form lasting partnerships to ensure that your operation remains competitive long into the future.


1. KPMG: The truth about online consumers (2017 Global Online Consumer Report)
2. Savills: European Omnichannel (European Commercial – Spring 2019)
3. McKinsey: Automation in logistics: Big opportunity, bigger uncertainty (April 2019)

Rob Qualm
Rob Qualm
Market Director Parcel

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