Financial Planning

Why smarter working needs smarter logistics

By Mark Calladine, Sales Director, CMS Network
Financial Planning
Published: 6 June 2018

The Mayor of London recently set the date for London’s new ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ). From 8 April 2019, the most polluting cars, vans and motorbikes will have to pay £12.50 to drive through central London, while buses, coaches and HGVs will pay £100.

City Hall hopes the move, which is subject to a consultation, will result in a 50% drop in emissions by 2020. For businesses based in the capital, ULEZ could represent a significant expense, particularly for those firms tasked with managing a high volume of deliveries to and from their premises. What such legislation will certainly do is place firms under further pressure to adapt business processes.

The ULEZ legislation is obviously London specific but there are challenges ahead for many businesses around delivery logistics and changing work patterns. Various business pressures such as the cost of permanent office space and the trend towards more fluid and flexible working have resulted in businesses moving to shared sites where several businesses occupy one premises. There is a real focus on space – making every square foot count and eliminating redundant ‘ghost desks’ or areas that are under-utilised. Whilst this model provides a more cost-effective footprint it also means a disruption to delivery practices.

It is unlikely that these space-conscious shared facilities will have dedicated loading bays or even dedicated post-rooms. Without these purpose-built facilities, the handling of goods in/out becomes more problematic – particularly with legislation such as ULEZ potentially adding cost to each pick-up and drop-off.

Businesses face a dilemma. The volume and frequency of deliveries in and out of the building doesn’t change, but the facility to efficiently handle those deliveries has been compromised. The answer for forward-thinking firms has been to partner with third-party delivery experts in order to maintain delivery efficiency and integrity.

One pioneering solution is to make use of the delivery provider’s own warehouse premises, typically situated outside of city centres and away from congestion/low-emission zones. The warehouse becomes an additional hub for the company concerned, with dedicated space and resource for accepting deliveries, storage and onward delivery of goods to and from the city centre offices and other addresses as needed.

The delivery provider manages daily shuttles to and from the customer’s premises, delivering into the building and taking all outbound work away. Delivery runs are consolidated, stopping the constant flow of vehicles and couriers in and out of the company’s central premises.

All inbound mail can be collected from Royal Mail each morning, sorted off site and delivered in tracked courier bags, sorted by department ready to run to agreed drop off points within the building. All outbound mail, overnight and international couriers and returns are managed by the delivery partner, with courier bookings made by the client coming directly to the delivery partner. Back at the provider’s warehouse, a dedicated clerk manages the storage and onward delivery of goods on behalf of the customer.

In the digital age, physical mail and package deliveries remain the lifeblood of businesses. More flexible ways of working and unique challenges such as ULEZ demand that businesses reassess their delivery model and find solutions that fit. Many businesses will not have the bandwidth or specific expertise in-house to enable them to assess the delivery landscape and re-engineer workflows. Instead, working with expert partners can result in dynamic solutions such as the offsite warehouse hub model which not only satisfies changing business demands, but also adds value.

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