Paul Taylor, head of sales and marketing UK, Spring Global Delivery Solutions, provides 10 pointers to help improve working relationships between posts and retailers
With the e-commerce market in Europe expected to generate €509.9bn (US$570bn) of revenue this year – 12% growth on last year – postal operators are feeling bullish about cross-border deliveries. But long-term success will depend on their ability to be an integrated part of the retailer’s team, helping to fulfill customer expectations. Here are my top 10 practical tips:
1. Tailored service
Pick up any marketing magazine from the past year and you’ll find the phrase ‘personalization’ being used. If retailers are seeking to build customer loyalty by personalizing the shopping experience then postal operators need to respond likewise. This means offering deliveries and returns that are personalized or tailored to the convenience of individual shoppers. Postal operators have to grasp that for the retailer, customer loyalty comes down to increased choice for the customer.
2. Visibility on deliveries and returns
Smart postal operators are the ones working smarter by embracing new technologies to support their retailer’s business. The majority of customers want fast delivery and they want to be kept aware of where their goods are in the supply chain. Likewise, if returning goods, they want to know when those goods have been received and their payment refunded.
At Spring we are using technology to ensure visibility and data capture all along the logistics chain. Integrated carrier platforms, RFID, GPS, smart sensors and SMS messaging are all changing the way we do business.
3. Take away the burden of sortation and other time-intensive work from the retailer
Retailers should be able to concentrate on what they are good at doing – providing the product. They don’t want to waste their staff’s time on detailed inventory and sorting packets and parcels before handing them over for delivery. That’s the post’s job.
4. Fast returns ensuring better stock management for the retailer
While customers want fast delivery, retailers will often want fast returns. Some products are seasonal, so it’s important that they are returned quickly to the warehouse to be restocked and resold before seasonal demand drops. Postal operators need to have a greater appreciation of the type of products they are sending and returning so that they can serve retailers better.
5. Understanding the peak times for the retailer, and the postal operator planning accordingly so that capacity is there
We all know that the run up to Christmas is a peak period for many retailers, but if you are a company stocking swimwear then the spring and summer can be just as busy. Postal operators need to align themselves much more with their retailers so that they have the capacity for handling their peak times.
6. Data is king
Retailers need to examine data from their multiple channels to ensure they are fulfilling customer expectations. Postal operators have a part to play in this as they have access to valuable data that helps retailers construct an accurate picture of their business. This includes information on how quickly products are getting to their customers, how often they track the products, and the frequency, amount and speed of returns. What is particularly exciting to the retailer is that the postal operator will have this information on a country-by-country basis.
7. Local knowledge
Most postal operators have been in business a long time. Excuse the old saying, but they have been there, done it and got the T-shirt.
Advising the retailer on the best delivery options and routes for countries and what customers in those countries expect from deliveries and returns is essential to getting the customer experience right and gaining customer loyalty.
8. Other related services to support retail sales
Don’t forget mail. Post can still help in promoting goods as well as transporting them. Retailers are increasingly using direct mail as customers become deluged with emails and can easily delete a promotion. Postal operators should seek out cross-selling opportunities that add value to the retailer’s marketing and sales operations.
9. Integrate platforms so that sales, deliveries and returns run smoothly
Integrating carriers with fulfillment platforms gives retailers information on what needs re-stocking and where, and the patterns of delivery and returns. But it also means that the postal company’s delivery and returns information can be available up-front to the shopper before they proceed to the checkout. That means there is more chance the customer will buy rather than abandon their purchases. Too often customers will shop with a competitor selling the same products because they have a clearer returns policy on show before checkout.
10. Know the business the retailer operates in so that there are no sudden surprises internally or externally (new laws, tax issues)
Postal operators should operate as an extension of the retailer’s business, offering advice on country tariffs, rules and other factors that will affect cross-border delivery and returns.
Paul Taylor is the head of sales and marketing for Spring Global Delivery Solutions UK, where he has responsibility for UK sales and marketing strategy and business development. Paul has a wealth of international mail experience having worked 16 years in the mail and logistics industry. Paul held the positions of CEO and CFO with Swiss Post UK, the position of finance director with DHL Global Mail, and most recently deputy CEO and CFO with Asendia UK.
August 10, 2016