Since the coronavirus lockdown, the UK bicycle industry has seen a significant increase in both usage and bike sales.
Retailers, both national and local within the UK, are seeing an increase in orders both for leisure and professional reasons.
Phillip Darnton, the Chair of the Bicycle Association, noted that the rise started shortly after lockdown restrictions came about in late March.
“There’s been an enormous increase in the use and sales of bicycles – particularly from the middle of April. The streets themselves have become very quiet. The amount of motor traffic is down by around 90% and that being the case the roads are much safer. The one thing we’ve learnt over the years, those who are not experienced cyclists are not going to get on the road on a bicycle unless it looks and feels safe.”
This increase also comes after the government revealed a £250m emergency active travel fund for cycling and walking initiatives.
This involved pop-up bike lanes with protected cycling space and the introduction of wider pavements, safer junctions and cycle and bus-only corridors. This is only the first stage of a £2 billion investment, as part of the £5 billion in new funding announced for cycling and buses in February.
At MaxOptra we have noticed that this increase in bicycle usage is reflected in the businesses we are speaking to. We are seeing an increase in bicycle delivery companies coming to us for support, largely because of an increase in demand or because businesses are expanding due to the support for alternative travel from the government.
Whether you’re just starting out with your bicycle delivery offering, or you’re taking the opportunity to expand, here are some of our top tips:
For businesses who have used vans and/or cars for delivery, or are looking to other distributors who don’t use bicycles for inspiration, implementing bicycles into their delivery offering may seem a little daunting to begin with.
At MaxOptra, we can reassure you that the systems that need to be implemented, plus the route optimisation features and functionality used, are very similar. So these processes can easily be replicated from vans and cars over to bicycles.
By using MaxOptra, businesses can reap the benefits of daily dynamic planning. In a matter of seconds produce multi-drop routes that automatically factor in delivery times, customer preferences, route restrictions and driving time.
By using our system, our customers can deliver to up to 50% more locations with the same fleet. Be confident that your routes are both efficient, reliable and achievable.
For paper-based operations, an increase in orders can result in an increase in documentation. This can quickly get messy.
We recommend that any business implement a driver app, such as the MaxOptra iOS and Android app. This will allow businesses to run a paperless operation whilst automatically pushing jobs to their drivers.
Businesses will also be able to track delivery and driver progress, whilst dealing with any issues and amends in real time. For added peace of mind, our driver apps which incorporate ePod functionality allows drivers to log proof of delivery signatures, photos and comments.
Due to recent challenges and uncertainties, end customers need to be kept up to date more so than ever. Customers now often need to know in advance when their collection, delivery or service call is taking place.
MaxOptra calculates ETAs based on a variety of factors and also provides real-time visibility of what’s actually happening out on the road. Additionally, customer notifications can be sent out automatically via SMS and email.
For any business who is running a distribution fleet, it’s important to know what’s going on once the bikes have left the depot.
Businesses can either link route optimisation systems to a vehicle telematics device, or utilise a driver app, such as what MaxOptra offers, to monitor what is going on in real time via track & trace functionality.
This on-the-day visibility enables businesses to proactively deal with any delays or issues as soon as they occur. At the end of the day this valuable data aids driver debriefing, route refinement, and management KPI reporting.