Problematic deliveries to shopping centres

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Europeans are still in love with shopping centres, Analysts of the multinational advisory Cushman & Wakefield estimate that following the slowdown of 2015, retails venues with the total area of 9.1 million square meters will be opened in Europe in 2016 and 2017. However not many people are aware of the great challenge posed by the logistics for shops located in such centres.

The very fact that many logistics operators simply refuse to deliver to shopping centres proves the complexity of the issue. Why do they give up potential profits on the very competitive TFL market?



Difficulties for logistics operators are the direct outcome of the advantages for clients. The location convenient for buyers, often close to city centre (in Poland, for instance, almost 80% of such venues are located in cities with the population exceeding 100,000 inhabitants), means that each square meter of the location is worth a lot and shops in shopping centres often do not have any service areas. Therefore deliveries must be frequent and relatively small. Reaching a shopping centre is almost always connected with being stuck in traffic jams and once you get there, frequently there is a shortage of unloading ramps. This forces truck drivers to wait in queues and shopping centres often don't have enough space to accommodate them.

Buyer-oriented opening hours are also a challenge for logistics companies. Goods must be delivered to the shop before opening (solution preferred by 80-90% of customers - owners of boutiques and shops). However they must not be delivered too early because shop staff are not on site to pick them up (this often applies to towns where work in a shopping centre often starts when it opens). There is absolutely no room for error so some centres opt for evening deliveries. In this case goods are delivered at about 10-11 pm (shipments are unloaded by drivers who have keys or codes to disarm security systems).



Bear in mind that deliveries to shopping centres are not carried out collectively but they must take into consideration the needs of individual shops. Each boutique, or rather a retail chain it belongs to, has its own schedule of deliveries which must be complied with by the logistics operator. Whereas a courier is able to deliver a shipment to a shop during the day, during the opening hours, delivery with more goods is impossible as the truck driver is not able to access the shop with a pallet-truck (in most shopping centres they are forbidden so as not to damage floors).

Sounds complicated? Add to this a situation where in all the country (or even on all the continent) a retail chain launches a new line of clothes. From the marketing point of view it is essential to have the première in all the outlets on the same day. National or pan-European coordination of deliveries must be flawless. A collective shipment with the new line of clothes must reach the warehouse where it will be palletized and delivered to local distribution centres. From there the goods will reach shops where they will be unpacked, and sometimes it is even necessary to remove them from pallets before they enter a boutique. The complexity of such an operation is extremely high and all the operations are carried out against the clock.



Many logistics operators do not service such deliveries. Those who choose to take up the challenge must be ready to work hard and have 4 key elements:

  • A suitably developed distribution network (with cross-dock warehouses located in transport hubs and in large cities) - in order not to be too far away from the city centre.
  • Adjusted fleet - a required number of small and medium trucks which will enter the city centre (where most shopping centres are located and trucks with total weight exceeding 10-16 tons are often banned from traffic).
  • Efficient organization of processes in cross-dock warehouses - since they take place early in the morning  in order to be able to distribute shipments to shops (using regular, direct connections).
  • Effective communication with the shop - so that its employees can pass information to the operator concerning the demand and check the shipment status (we use myRaben platform for that purpose).

A combination of these factors is far from simple but it allows for delivering goods to shops the day after receiving them. Had it not been for logistics operators, shopping centres would not be able to develop and they would never have reached the impressive area of 156 million square meters in Europe. And clients wouldn’t be able to go to a shopping centre every day to find the products they need.

Paweł Rymarowicz

Paweł Rymarowicz

Operation Director

Raben Logistics Polska

Connected with Raben Group for over 17 years. Specializes in international and domestic road transport as well as in home delivery service.


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