As global populations rapidly age, the logistics industry will need to adapt to the rise of the silver economy, by offering new services for elderly customers and new opportunities for older workers. Health and safety in regards to seniors will be a primary core theme as new technology assists in augmenting and replacing physical and cognitive tasks.
Key Developments & Implications
Today, about 1 in 11 people are aged 65 and above. By 2050, this will grow to 1 in 6. As the world’s population ages, the needs of older people as workers and consumers must be distinguished from those of younger people and considered as a sizable market in its own right. The realms of work, home, and leisure for older people will heavily incorporate automated processes and technological assistance for both physical and mental tasks.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted connections and correlations between age and overall health risks. To protect against heightened susceptibility, many governments and businesses have offered reduced-contact services, focusing primarily on last-mile delivery.
Elderly employees are becoming an important topic as more companies start to value their time-acquired experiences as labor shortages grow increasingly acute. When waves of experienced supply chain leaders and operational staff retire, a brain drain of “tribal knowledge” departs the organization. On the policy side, senior worker support packages, such as flexible hours and part-time employment, can help attract and retain retiring talent. On the technology side, new computer and robotic products and services may encourage older workers to stay on by reducing and assisting with laborious tasks (see Bionic Enhancement).
Elderly consumers with purchasing power that grows each year are shifting the consumer landscape. Players in these spaces, as well as those in other sectors wanting to attract older consumers, must consider senior needs as part of the customer and product experience. With more than half of seniors today using websites and applications (only to increase in the future), logistics players will further digitalize and incorporate changes to the user interface and user experience to accommodate older customers lest they lose ground to age-friendly competitors.
Last-mile value-added services have been strengthened by COVID-19 and will diversify from traditional delivery services to support an aging population. With pandemic laws restricting daily activities to protect the most vulnerable, businesses and governments have collaborated to ensure that senior citizens are able to receive essential goods at home without risking exposure. With more pharmacies, grocery stores, and other businesses now offering home deliveries during the pandemic (see Fresh Chain), last-mile delivery companies have increased their presence, simultaneously adapting services to reduce contact with customers and to better carry the products ordered. (see Self-Driving Vehicles & Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
Talk to an Expert
Innovation Project Manager
DHL Innovation Center, Troisdorf
Jordan Toy is an Innovation Project Manager. He merges his technical background with his passions for sustainability and human-centered design to drive projects from ideas to real-world pilots within logistics operations. His interests are multifaceted and span from robotics to quantum computing and from green energy to the future of work.
Jordan has over 6 years of experience in the logistics, transportation and civil engineering industries. He is based in the DHL Innovation Center in Troisdorf, Germany.