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One way for citizens to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 is to limit the number of contact moments in their daily interactions. But lockdown measures are having a devastating effect on local and national economies, since fewer shoppers can visit stores and markets in their region. IJsbrand Kaper explains how TNO’s Smart Logistics Model can potentially address both issues – and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time.
PUPPY (Pop-up, Pick-up and Home Delivery) is a project in which a data-driven, smart logistics solution provides a cost-effective way to support local entrepreneurs and protect communities during an outbreak. In a consortium of local entrepreneurs, key logistics players and TNO, the service is relatively easy to implement.
Users purchase items from their regular webshops or at a special single website or app. A logistics team collects the items from the various shops, assembles them into a single package and makes them available for pick-up or delivers them to the shopper’s door, thus reducing contact moments. Best of all, the entire logistics chain can be set up in a short time. The system is designed to ensure that each entrepreneur receives the funds for their goods sold, and, depending on the choices made by the consortium, a delivery fee covers the costs of logistics.
There are two pilots of the concept running in the Netherlands. Both are collecting real-world data to improve the concept. ‘The more we learn about shopper preferences and entrepreneur needs, the more we can tailor the solution to a region’s particular situation,’ IJsbrand says.
The Smart Logistics and Low-Cost Cooperation Model can also help in developing regions or cites. The key would be the right team to make it happen. ‘Of course, we need to work with local organisations and IT teams to set up an app or online platform,’ IJsbrand explains. ‘We need local entrepreneurs to make product selection diverse. But with the right parties willing to invest in this concept, we could reduce contact moments and stimulate local economies in a relatively short time.’ TNO can offer smart logistics expertise and advice about sharing costs, marketing, assets and more, so that costs to participants remain as low as possible.
IJsbrand: ‘In the two Dutch towns currently running the pilots, some entrepreneurs were concerned about losing business to online shopping, but we see the opposite: since shoppers can be more selective about how they get their products, they remain loyal to the shops they would usually visit in person.’
The smart logistics concept can also remain relevant long after the coronavirus is gone. Once the online platform or app is established and the logistics teams are in place, more shops can be added. ‘If entrepreneurs and investors share the costs, the concept can remain viable indefinitely,’ says IJsbrand. ‘So, while individual shop owners may not be able to set up and maintain their own online platforms, their collective power and resources can keep the concept going. This is especially beneficial in remote or rural areas, or for the elderly or less mobile members of the community. It can also address sustainability goals, if deliveries are made with eco-friendly options, like bikes, rickshaws or on foot.’
IJsbrand says that the team at TNO is enthusiastic about helping establish a similar concept in a developing region. ‘We know the procedures and processes that make it work. We only need the people who are committed to making it happen.’
Do you want to set up a sustainable, affordable smart logistics system in your region? Are you willing to invest in supporting small businesses and protecting citizens at the same time? Depending on the choices made, it can be done in a matter of weeks. Get in touch with TNO to find out how.
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