The sheer pace of the fast-moving world of e-commerce and the rising demand for deliveries is one of the biggest challenges now facing small business, a new survey has found.
The survey, commissioned by global automotive giants, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, highlighted changing customer expectations for delivery times (12%) and urban traffic and congestion (11%) as key concerns.
About 40% of small businesses surveyed feel well set up for the increasing demands of e-commerce.
But almost a third (30%) believe their business is not ready for these demands as they need smarter technology.
These businesses have cited the need for smarter technology to improve delivery efficiencies, particularly companies with fleet sizes greater than 25 vehicles (45%).
And of those surveyed, 55% predict their fleets will be fully autonomous in the next 20 years, with 38% believing this may happen in the next decade. They predict 66% of those vehicles will be fully electric.
With tech front of mind for driving business efficiencies, 70% of all small businesses believe that better connectivity could improve their business.
The ability to keep up with regulation changes is also causing headaches for 17 percent small business, the survey found.
- 35% of small businesses already using smarter technology in their fleets said that business efficiency is the leading motivation for upgrading their vehicles, followed by cost-savings (21%) and increased sustainability (14%).
- The ability to speak with companies and individuals to whom they are delivering is considered the leading benefit of connectivity for 30% of small businesses.
- 29% of respondents also believe the capacity for vehicles in their fleets to communicate with each other is a key advantage of connectivity, while 21% hope to use their vehicles as a third screen.
New technologies such as autonomous and electric vehicles which are expected to bring far-ranging benefits and efficiencies to business fleet owners were a key focus of the survey.
Encouragingly, business owners in multiple countries and from a variety of sectors, including retail, catering and leisure, sales, media and marketing and healthcare, are recognising this technology as being the future of the logistics industry, the survey notes.
This was reflected in Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi’s latest LCV business sales, which saw a 13.5% year-on-year increase, in part due to Renault’s European EV van leadership, with a 46.2% market share.
Reaching almost two million units, the numbers of trucks, vans and frame-based SUVs sold last financial year was the highest number of sales in the organisation’s history.
Between now and 2022, the automotive Alliance will launch 12 new zero-emission electric vehicles, using new common electric vehicle platforms and components for multiple segments.
Different levels of autonomy
Over the same period, 40 vehicles will be introduced with different levels of autonomy, all the way to fully autonomous capability.
Groupe Renault has announced that 100% of its vans will be electrified by 2022.
At the same time, the Nissan e-NV200 small all-electric van is seeing a significant upswing in demand. Last year, production was up by 50% compared to the previous year to reach a total of 6,000 units.
Mitsubishi offers the MINICAB MiEV van in Japan as well as commercial versions of the Outlander PHEV in some global markets.
Crucial for future survival
“As on-demand consumerism continues to rise, this is a crucial moment to ensure small businesses feel empowered to succeed in e-commerce,” said Ashwani Gupta, senior vice president of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi LCV business.
“We’ve heard from business leaders themselves that prioritising smarter technology for fleets will help to reach their customers with increased speed and scale – factors that are becoming ever more crucial for survival in this space.
“The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi LCV Business recognises the importance of smart technology to increase efficiency and continues to work together to develop connected and autonomous vehicles that cater to the needs of business fleets of all shapes and sizes.”
About the research
The survey looked at the future of urban logistics and electrification among small business owners and logistics decision makers from a variety of industries within the UK, US, China, France, Mexico, Australia and Japan. More than 3,250 global respondents took part in the survey.