All industries go through peaks and troughs in demand but one thing that we can say about the self-employed delivery driver sector is that it has been on a steep upward curve for some years. Of course, it has been much reported just how much the pandemic has driven the rise in demand for delivery drivers. However, this is not the whole story. The self-employed delivery driver sector was already booming long before the world had heard of Covid-19. As such, one of the first things we can reasonably say about 2022 is that there will be continued demand for delivery drivers.
Okay, the steepest part of the upward trend may just about have peaked but that doesn’t mean that numerous dropshipping and e-commerce businesses – among others – won’t continue to have a demand for reliable drivers for some time to come. That’s good news for commercial drivers, of course, as the rest of the UK economy continues to normalise. However, it is not the only thing we can expect in the coming twelve months. Read on to discover just what can be predicted for self-employed delivery drivers in the near future.
Vehicle Costs to Remain High
The second-hand vehicle market in the UK is in overdrive and it will take some time to get back to anything like normal. As such, owner-drivers should take good care of their vans and lorries because they will continue to be valuable items so long as they are serviceable on the road. Remember that it is not just used commercial vehicles that are fetching higher than expected prices at the moment because the entire second-hand car market is – to be frank – overpriced right now.
The reason for this is that new vehicles have not been coming onto the market in the numbers we’ve been used to in years gone by. You can put this down to the pandemic, Brexit or whatever else but the bottom line is that a dearth in new car availability has pushed up demand in the second-hand market. As things straighten out over the course of 2022, this should start to change. So, if you are looking to buy a second vehicle, then it will probably be better to leave it for at least six months before doing so. On the other hand, if you want to sell your van to buy a brand new one, then the best time to do so is probably right now while the used market is so buoyant.
Customer Demands Changing
Anyone who has worked as a self-employed delivery driver will know that customers can be very demanding. This isn’t always the firm you are delivering for so much as their end clients who are receiving orders placed with them. Drivers will be aware already just how much customers demand of the way goods are handled in transit and how willing they often are to reject packages with even relatively minor scuff marks on the packaging. They’d often prefer to refuse a perfectly good order for some superficial external damage than to unpack it and go through what they perceive to be a lengthy returns process with their supplier.
In terms of ongoing trends, most consumer surveys say that end customers are getting even more demanding. One such small business survey conducted last year stated that nine-tenths of consumers now expect online orders to be delivered within one week, for example. Crucially, it doesn’t matter to consumers whether their supplier is local or goods are being shipped from overseas. As such, delivery drivers can expect to feel even more time pressure from the industry than they are currently under. Consequently, investment in better route planning and package tracking will soon be a must for most operators, large and small, working in the delivery sector.
Crossover Working Will Become More Usual
In some parts of the country, many delivery drivers, especially those focussed on small package logistics, will specialise in just one sort of work. However, this is not the case everywhere nowadays, particularly in big cities where congestion may be higher but distances travelled may be lower. Urban self-employed drivers working in the gig economy have been increasingly undertaking different sorts of jobs and not always working for some of the big e-commerce retailers, thereby diversifying their business model somewhat. In short, where it is possible to do so, self-employed drivers have often chosen to hire themselves out as man-and-van service providers as well as package delivery drivers.
This will often mean slowly building up a clientele of private customers and building a new part of the business based on word of mouth recommendations. Such work might involve moving furniture or taking old appliances to municipal dumps or recycling centres on behalf of clients. Increasingly, it will also involve removals work, too. A trend that we can expect to see more of in the coming year be more and more delivery drivers working as part-time removals operators. In most cases, the scale will be relatively small to begin with, perhaps undertaking house share moves or one-bedroom flats rather than handling large family home removals. That said, drivers who are willing to get involved with lifting and handling work are likely to find that they can develop a significant second income stream by diversifying in this way.
Greener Deliveries Increasingly to Become the Norm
Environmental considerations now feature in nearly all parts of the economy. Despite the cost of living crisis that is, in part, due to rising energy costs, many consumers are willing to pay a premium for greener deliveries. As such, their suppliers will continue to be more willing to offer them this sort of service. Of course, what exactly constitutes an environmentally friendly delivery service is open to some interpretation.
In the main, however, we can expect customers to want fewer diesel-powered vans and trucks on the road and more and more electric ones instead. This won’t necessarily mean all-electric delivery vehicles become the norm overnight because hybrid technology – mild and plug-in – still has its place. Nevertheless, owner-drivers of greener delivery vehicles are likely to be in demand and, therefore, able to charge a premium for their work.