Last updated: 13 March 2023
Published on: 07 April 2016
5 MINS READ
New urban logistics initiative to deliver boost for retail malls.
Long queues of delivery trucks at shopping malls, especially during festive sales, could soon become a thing of Christmas past.
An In-Mall Distribution (IMD) system to be tested out at two retail malls in Singapore promises to cut waiting and queueing time for deliveries by 65 per cent, benefitting some 300 retailers and enabling logistics service providers (LSPs) to better use their fleets.
The 12-month IMD trial, which will kick off at Tampines Mall before June, followed by Bedok Mall in the second phase, is being conducted under a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) between the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), SPRING Singapore and CapitaLand Mall Trust Management Limited.
The trial seeks to address some of the key logistics challenges in the retail sector such as lack of delivery coordination leading to trucks being under-used, traffic congestion at loading bays of malls, and a shortage of delivery drivers.
It is the first initiative to be rolled out under the nationwide Urban Logistics programme spearheaded by IDA and SPRING Singapore to transform the efficiency of the logistics sector through technology.
For the IMD trial, a pilot dock scheduler and queue management system will enable LSPs and tenants with their own delivery fleets to book specific delivery timings at the mall.
This helps reduce traffic congestion by ensuring that timings do not clash.
An innovative “change of custody” system will also be introduced to improve speed and efficiency in the handover of deliveries. Handovers contribute to long waiting times for truck drivers outside the malls because the receivers have to manually count the items for each delivery.
With the new system, the inventory is counted, registered and secured electronically in a container at the start of the delivery cycle.
“We are learning from best practices in international logistics and applying it to urban logistics,” said Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive of IDA. Just as docks are a precious resource in shipping, unloading bays are an important resource for urban logistics.
The aim is to get trucks to unload and move off as quickly as possible, and containerised deliveries will enable this by making multiple manual checks unnecessary.
The IMD system also involves the creation of a new type of service provider – the In-Mall Logistics Operator (IMO) who will be stationed within the mall to receive and consolidate deliveries from suppliers before distributing the goods to the respective retailers.
IMOs operating extended hours or round-the-clock allow for more flexibility in scheduling deliveries, further easing congestion, said Mr Khoong.
The IMOs can also provide other value-added services, such as: the management of the unloading bays, concierge services such as bag or luggage deposit, cold storage facilities, home delivery, meal delivery, e-commerce pickup and just-in-time replenishment and goods transfer for retailers.
IMD is projected to deliver significant benefits to various stakeholders in the retail logistics chain.
For example, it provides an excellent platform for driving improvements in retail productivity, said Mr Wilson Tan, Chief Executive Officer of CapitalLand Mall Trust Management.
“If you look at the Internet environment, there is a lot of talk about the sharing economy. IMD is an attempt to see how we can share resources to improve productivity.”
With IMD, retail staff will be able to focus on customer service with the outsourcing of logistics-related tasks such as stock transfer between outlets, goods return and on-shelf placement to IMOs.
Mall management will be able to reduce delivery jams and enhance the visitor experience at the malls, and LSPs can potentially double the number of deliveries they are able to make within a day.
Witnessing the signing of the MOI, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Information said the Government was glad to see the industry coming together to pilot the IMD initiative.
With demand for infrastructure always on the increase in a highly-urbanised city state like Singapore, using infocomm media technology to increase the efficiency and productivity for urban logistics in the retail sector is a significant step in the right direction.
“This will result in a win-win for businesses and consumers as well,” he said.