Europe

eCommerce And The Great Van Boom

Between a resurgence in the construction industry and the boom in online shopping, vans are big in the U.K. right now — and getting bigger.

Financing for commercial vehicles is on the rise on the other side of the pond, up 10 percent year over year in August, according to the Finance and Leasing Association.

The bulk of that growth was powered by retail and an upswing in people going the entrepreneurial route and setting up their own businesses.

“It’s very easy to get vehicles financed on very competitive rates these days,” said Brian Templar of logistics consultancy Davies and Robson.

Legislation passed last year in the U.K. has put a damper on demand for trucks, which has led to the great van renaissance that has seen the number of vans on highways and byways pick up by 17 percent in 2015, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

“Logistics is the next big battleground in eCommerce. [Retailers] have always delivered larger items like furniture, but now they will be able to offer it even for smaller items,” said Anita Balchandani, partner at consultancy firm OC&C.

The change has seen U.K. firms changing themselves to meet the times. Argos became the first high-street brand to launch same-day deliveries nationwide last week. Amazon Prime Now offers same-day shipping options in London and Coventry. Ocado, an upscale online grocer, spent £12.5 million on vehicle leases in 2014, against £9 million the previous year.

The big challenge going forward, said Robin Byde of brokerage Cantor Fitzgerald, will be finding enough drivers, as shortages have been an endemic issue of late.

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Social distancing has changed eCommerce from a ‘want to have’ to a ‘must have’ for businesses, yet retailers could struggle to create convenient payment and refund experiences for their apps and websites, says Abdul Raof Latiff, head of DBS Bank’s digital institutional banking group. In the April 2020 B2B API Tracker, Latiff explains how banks can provide a timely assist via application programming interfaces (APIs) that integrate payments into those eCommerce platforms.

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