Booming ecommerce is leading retailers to realise the importance of reliable doorstep delivery to their brands, and with UK Mail able to offer this alongside their existing B2B operations their ‘one-stop-shop’ presents an appealing catch-all logistical solution.
Extending the two-year-old retail network has become a key priority for future growth in the parcel side of the business which started out as a taxi firm in 1971.
UK Mail is deploying a series of initiatives to increase its retail yield by 15 to 20 percent next year, schemes that will benefit its entire parcel division.
Among these are a new one-hour delivery window, a greater evening delivery service and ability to deliver next day on orders made late at night.
Catherine Mill, National Accounts Director at UK Mail, said: “For the next year it is all about improving the customer journey from the point of booking to the customer doorstep. Retailers have realised we are an extension of their brand – we see the customers on the doorstep and a poor delivery is likely to be associated with the retailer, not UK Mail.”
“This is why we now deal with the whole business, from a customer’s marketing team to its customer services. We are a one stop shop, we will be involved with every part of the journey.”
Significant upgrades in IT systems have facilitated the launch of UK Mail’s one-hour delivery window, due to roll out at the end of March 2014.
This is a marked improvement on the current four-hour offering and will enable customers to narrow down their delivery estimate to a 60 minute time frame, receiving an SMS message when they are next on the delivery schedule.
The new MC70 scanner system provides quicker data transfer from driver to depot and allows direct two-way communication between base and deliverer.
“If we need to get a message out about an address or to stop a delivery the driver’s scanner can pick it up,” Mill said. “The current scanners don’t do that. The new system updates much quicker meaning customers can track their deliveries more accurately as well.”
“We are aiming for first time delivery success rate of 98 to 99 percent – if you get this right then you will receive great customer satisfaction. No customer wants to come home to a calling card through their door.”
Not only will customers be able to narrow down when their purchases arrive, they will also be able receive their packages the next day having made the order late the night before thanks to UK Mail’s Retail Today solution.
They are increasing the numbers of staff involved in day trunks, late afternoon movements of products which facilitate evening doorstep deliveries; a move which has proven very popular with retailers and their customers.
Since offering evening B2C deliveries two years ago, there has been a threefold increase from 2,000 to 6,000 such deliveries per night.
Mill said: “Retailers charge a premium for this service because customers have requested it. A lot of them are not home during the day and many retailers have to deliver to the billing address.”
These B2C delivery improvements operate alongside UK Mail’s original store replenishment retail solution, involving daily morning deliveries to stores, store-to-store and store-to-warehouse product transfers, making up the complete ‘one-stop shop’.
Mill added: “We do not have to outsource our services, it can be kept under the UK Mail umbrella which our customers really appreciate. They don’t have to deal with three or four different people, one person can come in and handle all their products.”
“We can go to a customer and look at their whole supply chain as a consultant and outline how we can make it more efficient.”
Efficiencies and expansion
Accompanying the new scanner systems are upgraded and new depots throughout the UK Mail network which are providing the efficiency necessary to deliver an improved service.
Investment in new sortation machines and automation of sites is in motion, with an eventual target of 80 percent automation being set.
A new depot opened in Aldershot last year to increase sorting capacity, with a new central hub to be established in Coventry in 2015 in response to the routing of HS2 through its current centre in Birmingham.
“It hasn’t caused any problems, HS2 is happening and the new hub will have more modernised facilities,” Mill commented.
Staff numbers sit at 2,900 with a further 2,500 subcontracted. In-house training programmes offer nationally recognised NVQ qualifications for day and night staff to ensure a high quality service on the business’s frontline.
UK Mail has also invested in sustainable efficiencies, notably the telematics systems in their fleet of 3,500 trucks. This has led to improved route mapping and close monitoring of driving patterns to prevent wasteful driving.
On the mail side of the business, the iMail service can cut large portions of journeys by printing customer’s letters at the closest one of UK Mail’s three iMail printing sites to the delivery destination, improving delivery efficiency and cutting carbon footprints.
Last year iMail won the Growth Award at the industry’s World Mail Awards, the most prestigious in the industry, beating competition from over 100 other entries.
A family feel
Helping a mix of smaller and larger clients, with varying levels of supply chain needs, continues to enable UK Mail to attract new business, something which Mill links to a personal touch within the business.
“There is a family feel here at UK Mail, I think we have a healthy mix of smaller and bigger customers,” Mill added.
“We’re quite happy to dealing with clients from the blue chip companies to the customer down the road only handling a few consignment and even the customer at home on eBay”.
The emotiveness of high value goods deliveries to customers has also been picked up on. This is an area which UK Mail hopes to make deeper inroads into going forward not only through more flexible deliveries but by tightening up its security online and on the ground.
“We deal with some big telecoms companies and their customers,” Mill said. “It is such an emotive purchase so we have to ensure they have the best delivery experience possible.”
Being adaptable for clients of all sizes and able to cater for all retail logistical needs, from the shop floor to the entire online customer journey, the ‘one-stop shop’ is well placed to exploit the burgeoning arena of ecommerce.