The purpose of a retail mall operator, is to attract consumers to their mall to buy goods from their tenant retail outlets cafes and restaurants. More consumers attract more retailers, and generate higher rental income. The more lettable space the mall has, then the more tenants that can be accommodated, the more consumers want to shop there. So quite intentionally, retail malls are located in urban areas with large populations.
As goods are purchased, and as food is consumed, they need to be replenished. Therefore, the more retailers and food outlets at a centre, the more commercial deliveries required to “feed” the mall. Retail malls are generators of a large number of vehicle movements. This volume is largely driven from large retail tenants, and food establishments.
But the choice between more lettable space and more load bay space is very difficult for mall operators. Lettable space generates revenue. Loading bays do not. In fact loading bays cost money to operate. By design retail malls will be built to have “just enough” loading bays at best. But loading bays cannot and should not be designed to manage peak throughput demand for space. Reality is that the peak delivery demand is for relatively short period of a day, leaving loading bays under utilised for many hours.
However, the delivery peak causes congestion due to more arriving vehicles than loading bay spaces. A shortage of loading bays causes vehicles to have to wait. Congested loading bays create safety concerns, with moving vehicles, drivers, receiving and security personnel sharing ground space. Safety extends from physical safety to bio-security safety in times of pandemic control, with “delivery distancing”.
These problems are well described in a research paper published by the European Transport Research Review:
Dalla Chiara, G., Cheah, L. Data stories from urban loading bays. Eur. Transp. Res. Rev. 9, 50 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12544-017-0267-3.
View the paper here.
Part of this research studied 2 retail malls in Singapore, and identified a link between congestion, arrival time, service duration, and the parking choices of delivery drivers. It also clearly shows the severity and length of the peak, and associated congestion. With the result being that in order to fulfil deliveries, drivers were being forced to park in consumer parking areas. This throws up immediate red flags for safety and security.
Retail Malls and Shopping Center operators do not normally consider themselves in the business of managing logistics. But they are!
The number of transportation movements generated by Retail establishments is high. Food based tenants drive the largest number of deliveries to a retail center, as food needs to be fresh. Which means food shops, cafes, restaurants, and food court outlets require daily deliveries of fresh food. Bread, milk, cakes… they all need to be fresh.
Loading dock management in shopping malls is usually restricted to some simple signage at the entry to the loading docks, and a security guard with a clipboard to record when deliveries arrive, and take the drivers name. There is no concept of a loading dock management plan, dock appointment scheduling.
Mobiledock is purpose built to help manage the day to day operations of urban based destinations, such as retail mall, and has managed millions of deliveries into these destinations. Destinations which have implemented Mobiledock do not have congestion (on site or on roads leading to the site), do not have trucks/vans waiting to drop off goods (reducing carbon emissions), are safer and more secure. And better yet, the mall operator has happier tenants, as they have surety and visibility of when they will get their goods delivered. The shelves are always full. The food is always fresh.