Blog - 2013




25th October 2013


I love my local shop - it has saved the day on many an occasion whether I need a last minute bottle of wine or a missing ingredient. Also their early to late opening hours are a godsend for people like me who don’t keep a normal 9-5 schedule.

And it seems that I am not alone with over 90% of people feeling the same according to an independent survey. In fact the results of the research showed that convenience stores and corner shops are increasingly viewed as an important part of the local community, providing a high quality experience that the majority of residents feel is at least on par with that of large supermarkets. Over half of all those questioned stated that they visit their local shop at least once a week with 10% visiting daily.

Respondents, perhaps unsurprisingly had high levels of confidence in their local shops with 70% trusting their local convenience shops as much or more than the major supermarkets to provide high quality, relevant products at a competitive price. It seems that the days of limited choice and extortionate prices are long gone.

Hermes, who commissioned the survey, launched a national network of myHermes Parcelshops last year and chose to locate them in local convenience stores as well as local independents as a cost effective alternative to the Post Office. This seems great news as it provides them with an additional revenue stream, increases their awareness in the community and attracts new customers. This should mean more footfall and sales which will provide a much needed boost. For residents the added convenience of a parcel shop which fits with their busy lifestyles is much appreciated!

So does this mean that our local corner shops are possibly a strategic weapon in the war against the much hyped ‘death of the independent retailer’? Certainly they are often owned and run by the kind of entrepreneurs who are not scared of hard work or trying new things and in many cases are the backbone of the local area and the broader UK economy. They seem to know what the local community wants and needs and there are many businesses that could learn from this.


9th August 2013


The consumer is becoming increasingly eco aware and demanding that retailers are demonstrating responsibility, which in turn is putting added pressure on the supply chain. Therefore, where must the retailers and their delivery partners go next to minimise environmental impact?

Smart packaging is certainly gaining some attention as wasteful and in some cases totally inappropriate boxes, packets and wrapping are not only causing inefficiency within the supply chain but also having an adverse effect on the overall shopping experience. Recent research from Hermes found that 67% of consumers had previously received a parcel that had excessive packaging and more importantly a third felt this issue would make it less likely to shop with that retailer again, so this is certainly something for retailers and carriers to consider.

Elsewhere, first time delivery rates continue to improve as the final mile becomes more efficient and effective. However, there will always be a proportion of parcels that can’t be delivered, and when many hundreds of millions of items are handled each year, this represents a significant number.

Retailers can look at reducing this waste by increasing the delivery choice. For example, Click and Collect is already proving popular, whilst offering alternative methods such as deliveries into parcel shops or locker boxes means the consumer can select an option that fits with their lifestyle. This will drive down failed deliveries and remove some of the associated mileage, fuel usage and ultimately emissions of second or even third delivery attempts.

Embracing new technology to boost operational performance can also play a massive role in achieving efficiencies. But simply adopting technology without having the internal resources in place to take advantage of it will fail every time. There are many products, systems and solutions available that promise massive improvements, so the challenge is to choose technology that fit with precise operational requirements. In particular, retailers and carriers need to work together to maximise the opportunities of mobile computing that can not only enhance delivery success by engaging with the consumer, but also provide useful business intelligence to help identify areas of improvement.

Simply green washing an operation is simply not longer acceptable so it is about taking a close look at an operation to identify the most appropriate areas to target. However, many of these potential improvements will have knock on benefits for both the retailer and carrier, so can make a massive improvement to the overall shopping experience, operational performance and competitive advantage.


11th July 2013


Consumer communication remains a key challenge for retail supply chains faced with how best to meet and manage their expectations whilst operating efficiently and competitively. Increasingly the consumer wants things now, whether this is a response to a query or access to information, and if they don’t get what they want they are more than happy to vent their frustrations online through social media channels.

The Internet has become both a blessing and a curse for the retail sector. The rise of online shopping has been responsible for significant and ongoing growth in sales, but at the same time it has provided an effective means of voicing dissatisfaction and frustration to a wide online audience.

Recent research found that a quarter of consumers would tell people about a bad delivery experience using social media, so retailers and their supply chain partners have to consider the potential impact of this emerging communication channel. In recent years there have been high profile examples of poor delivery experience going viral on the Internet, whilst journalists are now using Twitter to generate or research their latest story, so damage to brand and reputation is a very real risk.

Therefore, retailers have to embrace consumer communication and ignore social media at their peril. Traditional customer service channels such as email and telephone still remain important, but these need to be integrated with emerging tools such as webchat, mobile applications and social media. The key is to provide a highly responsive solution that takes advantage of a range of communication paths.

For most consumers they just want to be heard when there is an issue or even better pre-warned if a problem is going to take place. Therefore, communication is key and simply cannot be ignored.