The businesses that make London a great place to live, work, and visit depend on reliable deliveries and servicing.

Research from our freight and servicing action plan shows that more than 90% of London's freight is transported by road, and that in the morning peak (07.00-10.00) deliveries and servicing vehicles account for about a third of all traffic. 

Managing deliveries well plays an essential role in making the city attractive for people and businesses, allowing it to grow and thrive.

Business improvement districts (BIDs) and business groups have led the way in helping businesses to make changes to the way they make and receive deliveries, to increase reliability and play a part in reducing congestion and improving air quality. 

Businesses and groups that we have worked with have experienced many benefits of streamlining their deliveries, including: 

  • Improved local air quality from lower vehicle emissions
  • Reduced business costs from fewer contracted deliveries or suppliers
  • Saved employee time on handling deliveries
  • Reduced local congestion due to lower vehicle numbers on local streets
  • Reduced carbon footprint of business, aiding with achievement of sustainability targets 

Below are five ways in which your business could make its deliveries more efficient. Our suite of deliveries toolkits for business gives further guidance on how you can put these measures in place. 

1. Reducing the frequency of deliveries

Receiving deliveries less frequently from suppliers could contribute to improving vehicle congestion and air quality in your local area. 

A good step to exploring this is to explore whether your suppliers can deliver less often. Many businesses have next-day delivery contracts with, for example, stationery suppliers, and receive orders every day of the week. 

You could change this by grouping deliveries and arranging with your supplier to only deliver two days per week regardless of when orders are made. Pinsent Masons LLP was able to reduce its NOx emissions by 55% by reducing the frequency of cleaning deliveries and waste collections to their office. 

2. Reducing the number of suppliers

Using fewer suppliers can cut down your administration and delivery costs.
A first step to exploring reducing your number of suppliers could be to speak with your landlord or building manager, as they may be able to coordinate suppliers for all their tenants. 

Preferred supplier schemes are a good way to reduce your number of suppliers. By taking part in such a scheme (often run by local business improvement districts), businesses can use the same providers and often benefit from the same delivery or service, such as office supplies or waste collection. You can use our step-by-step waste collection toolkit for businesses and BIDs to support you in setting up a preferred supplier scheme for waste collections. 

The New West End Company (NWEC) began using a single preferred supplier scheme for the waste collections of over 320 businesses. Through the scheme, NWEC was able to reduce local waste vehicle journeys per day by 94% and reduce CO2 and NO2 emissions by 75% in their local area. 

You can also read our preferred suppliers framework for information on the biggest opportunities for businesses to share suppliers. 

3. Using sustainable delivery modes

Using or hiring greener delivery vehicles can offer environmental benefits whilst also reducing congestion in your area.

Cargo bikes, for example, are zero-emission and require less road space than cars or vans. There can also be cost benefits. A charity in Islington has made financial savings of around £ 140 per month by switching their deliveries from diesel van to cargo bike couriers. 

You can use our step-by-step  toolkit for cargo bike deliveries to learn more about cargo bikes and support you in switching to them.

4. Retiming deliveries

Finding a quieter time for your business to make or receive deliveries can have positive impacts on your business, your suppliers and your customers.

Changing the time of a delivery to avoid congestion could cut the journey time by up to 18.5%, meaning retiming deliveries can lead to more reliable and efficient delivery times for your business.

Retiming your deliveries will also help improve road congestion at peak times in your local area - Planet Organic was able to reduce the number of vehicles in their local area at peak times by retiming 60% of their 7,740 weekly deliveries to take place overnight rather than in the morning peak. They were also able to improve their sustainability footprint by doing this.

We have worked with businesses to retime deliveries to over 500 sites, moving 166,000 deliveries out of the peak times each year since 2015. Organisations that we've worked with range from large national organisations to small high street businesses in the retail, hospitality and servicing sectors.

We have developed a step-by-step retiming toolkit to support businesses who would like to retime their deliveries.

5. Encouraging your employees to shop sustainably

Your business could reduce the impact of deliveries in London by helping your employees choose greener options for their online shopping.

Shopping online has become increasingly popular in recent years, being predicted to make up 49.7% of non-food sales in the UK by 2025. However, some consumer habits can have a significant impact on traffic and pollution through increasing the number of trips made by delivery companies. Missing deliveries, for example, has been shown to increase the carbon footprint by up to 75% per order.

Supporting your employees to choose greener online shopping options, such as click and collect, can help reduce congestion and improve air quality in London.

To help you support your employees in choosing greener online shopping, we have developed a Sustainable shopping toolkit for employers with options for how they can support greener online shopping- from internal communications campaigns on the impacts of certain behaviours, to installing click and collect lockers on their land. You can also read our Sustainable shopping deliveries blog post for some quick tips.

Case Studies

Working with London businesses, we have produced case studies showing best practice examples of where businesses have made their deliveries more efficient:

Specific business and BID case studies relating to cargo bike implementation, waste collection consolidation and retiming deliveries can also be found on our Deliveries toolkit page