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Delivery times

Kirsty Adams attends the fifth annual Delivery Conference, hosted by MetaPack, for some insight into the future of delivery.

t the recent MetaPack fifth annual Delivery Conference, a day dedicated to showcasing exclusive product launches, we learnt that some things are going out of fashion. The words ‘out-of-stock’ for one. The ‘six day delivery’ another – to be soon out-dated by Hermes’ Sunday offering – hitting homes this summer. Ugly freight is still in however, and still causing logistics professionals problems, in those last miles.


The delivery concept, by which consumers collect food or parcels themselves from specific locations, featured heavily at the conference. Julie Coxhill, of chilled locker-based logistics company ByBox Networks, revealed plans to increase locker locations to 1,000. Its ambitious aim to install locker networks, which allow customers to buy and collect groceries on the move, across supermarkets and Network Rail locations, has been assisted by acquisition of competitor, Business Direct, an in-night logistics provider, in December 2013.
Network Rail also announced plans to roll out its Doddle parcel collection and delivery service to 75 stores, by the end of this year, and 300 stores by 2017. Speaker, Tim Robinson, who led on the development of the Doddle project, said that research shows consumers are most likely to use the service “in the morning and at weekends”. He also addressed the fact that Network Rail is a landlord, which “takes the pain out of the process.” Robinson says the service will benefit the customer, who can collect goods on their way home, and benefit retailers through “cost avoidance in failed deliveries”.

Dwain McDonald, CEO of DPD UK, offered a lively presentation. DPD is one of the biggest builders in the UK at present, with a fourth warehouse due for completion in 2015, to enable 20% growth. Plans for hubs five and six are already on the way. Dwain also announced the launch of the company’s ‘follow my parcel’ app, which can help prove a parcel has been delivered.
Sunday service

“The only way we will make it work, is to make it a normal delivery option, To make every day like a Sunday,” said Hermes sales director, Gary Winter, discussing its new Sunday delivery service, launched at the event. A Warrington hub will also open this month for Hermes, to support the new Sunday delivery service. Its parcel manager app is also now available.

In the final part of the day, during a Q&A with a panel of experts, which included Sir Terry Leahy, former CEO of Tesco, the panel were asked: “Is the last mile undervalued?” Sir Terry said: “People will pay for what they value”, and Google’s Peter Fitzgerald went further to talk about the value of the very “last step” – the delivery of food within two hours.
Other comments by the panel included: “For today’s 12-year-old, who will be used to online shopping, the idea of out-of-stock will be alien concept” – Nick Robertson, Asos.
The importance of the last mile from a supply chain perspective was summed up by Mehmet Nane, general manager, of Carrefour, Turkey: “The last person the customer is seeing is not our person – or our computer system. Until that moment, you can give them the best price, the best service and the best delivery mechanism, but if that last person is not able to represent all the work built up until that point – everything is gone.”

During the day, we spoke to visitor Terry Maywood, group logistics director at Ryman, impressed by the speakers, who made him realise: “The pace of change, which we have to keep up with.” Terry attended the event to source further delivery options, and was able to meet several who were exhibiting and is now conducting a trial with an alternative supplier.

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