Retail companies are increasingly seeing goods transport and its efficient organization as another core line of business, in addition to the traditional selling of goods. They are therefore establishing logistics structures in particular for the so-called last mile – the final leg of the journey to the end consumer. Home delivery services are booming and demand is rising, as demonstrated by the increasing number of shopping delivery services on offer in cities. But regardless of whether it’s a supermarket, a pizza chain or a flower delivery service, they all face what is possibly the biggest challenge created by this new, individualized consumer behaviour – gridlocked roads, a lack of parking spaces, excessive exhaust fumes and also legal restrictions, especially in inner-city traffic.
With its ‘Freight Transport and Logistics Action Plan‘, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport has presented a strategic concept that includes concrete measures for city centres, with a view to creating sustainable and efficient structures for the logistics of tomorrow. In particular, the action plan’s ‘Initiative for logistics in urban areas’ aims to make freight more environmentally friendly and also flow better over the last mile in towns, cities and conurbations. In order to achieve this, there are now so-called freight centres in 35 towns and cities, such as in Berlin Westhafen and Cologne Eifeltor. What makes these logistics hubs special is that the goods can be pooled in the direct vicinity of towns, cities and conurbations because they feature at least two modes of transport – usually road and rail.
Developed by Effizienzcluster Logistik- Ruhr, which METRO AG is part of together with other retail and logistics industry players, the idea of ‘urban hubs’ goes in a similar direction. Goods flows for numerous companies and product ranges are pooled at the hubs and various urban delivery points are then served together. This increases the capacity utilization of the individual trucks, thereby reducing the number of trips made over the last mile. METRO AG’s logistics services and competence centre METRO LOGISTICS has been handling procurement logistics for the various sales lines in accordance with this principle for years, and has as a result boosted the efficiency of its delivery processes.