Yodel unveils its plans to weather the Christmas rush
As retailers look forward to another busy festive period, parcel carrier Yodel has unveiled its plans to ensure the safe and timely delivery of online orders.
Preparations began in January with the appointment of a dedicated ‘peak’ planning team and the carrier has worked in partnership with its retail clients on their predicted volumes, to ensure that the correct resources are in place. It is forecast to handle 15 percent more parcels than the same period in 2013, and has invested heavily in its operation to meet demand.
The company, which has over 60 locations around the UK, has procured an additional 13 sites to handle this increase in parcel volume.
These include five standalone service centres, seven satellite sites to support existing service centres and a returns centre in the Midlands. Fixed canopies have also been created to extend site capacity.
Dick Stead, Executive Chairman of Yodel, said: "For our retail clients this vital season is known as the ‘golden quarter’ and we are fully prepared for parcel volumes to reach record levels. Our clients and their customers depend on us to deliver Christmas and we take that responsibility very seriously.
“We’ve worked closely with retailers and sourced additional sites, vehicles and staff to manage the surge in parcel volumes and have contingency plans to ensure we are well placed to weather the British winter.”
In addition a special control tower has been established at Yodel’s central sorting facility in Wednesbury to oversee volume management, operational action and weather contingency.
On the road an additional 200 HGVs and 500 trailers have been sourced to carry out the trunking between clients’ warehouses and Yodel’s sort and service centres.
Operational hours have been extended at the company’s three central sorting facilities, which include specialist handling for the high volumes of flower and wine deliveries forecasted for the Christmas period. Deliveries to homes and businesses will also be increased to seven days a week.
Yodel’s existing workforce will be bolstered by an additional 5,000 workers across transport, sort, service centres and customer services. Recruitment for the busy winter period began in September to ensure all new workers receive adequate training.
With winter comes the threat of snow and ice, so all operational sites have been equipped with rock salt, snow shovels, ice melt, de-icer and scrapers. The company also has invested in snow ploughs to ensure service yards are kept clear.
In the event of severe weather conditions, parcels will be date stamped and a controlled First In First Out (FIFO) process put into action to ensure that deliveries are made as soon as possible.
The additional 13 sites are located at Newbridge, East Kilbride, Preston, Selby, Sheffield, Cambridge, Borehamwood, New Cross, Newhaven, Bridgwater, Farnborough, Eastbourne and Tilehurst.
Yodel is the UK's leading independent parcel carrier, offering the widest range of service options. The company handles over 145 million parcels every year and has a relationship with 85 per cent of the UK's top retailers. Yodel is headquartered in Hatfield and has over 60 locations across the UK, including three central sorts and over 50 service centres.
Some further details about vacancies can be found at: careers.yodel.co.uk.
DHL and UPS: How is 3PL Evolving in 2021?
To optimise their supply chains, many companies have turned to third-party logistics providers—3PLs—to outsource how they manage inventory, stock warehouses, fulfil customer orders, pack pallets, and handle returns. Especially in the midst of the pandemic, corporations have struggled to satisfy their customers, mitigate shipping delays, and react to rapid spikes in demand. In short: if logistics isn’t your core competency, rely on the experts.
To examine the current state of 3PL, we decided to have a quick roundtable with Philippe Gilbert, President of UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and Phil Roe, Chief Customer Officer and Strategy Director at DHL Supply Chain. Here’s what they have to say on the subject:
What are the fundamental benefits of partnering with a third-party logistics provider?
‘Proper supply chain visibility and planning is one of the key challenges facing modern supply chains’, says Phil. ‘Supply chains now cover multiple jurisdictions across significant distances. They’re also omnichannel, meaning that it’s now standard practice for there to be multiple routes to the customer’. Philippe adds that, ‘3PLs can deliver efficiencies and resources across the supply chain that are difficult for most businesses to replicate’.
According to a study from UPS Global Logistics, five major challenges drive companies to outsource:
- Limited Space
- Increased Customer Expectations
- Faster Order Fulfilment
- Reduced Labour Costs
- Multiple Fulfilment Channels
Now, the pandemic has accelerated 3PL adoption. In that same UPS survey, 29% of respondents indicated that they’d switch to outsourcing their logistics as a direct result of the past year. ‘One of the biggest issues impacting our current customers is the timing on inventory levels’, says Philippe. ‘Production delays out of APAC have pushed receipts and built back orders of products’.
How are 3PLs helping businesses cope with broader disruptions, such as Brexit, transport logjams, and driver shortages?
‘We can categorise supply chain disruptions into three broad areas’, explains Phil. ‘Demand-side, supply-side, and environmental. Some of these are easier to control than others, but all benefit from proper oversight and the ability to quickly adapt’. When the Brits finalised Brexit, for example, DHL scaled up areas that needed specialist support, such as customs processing. ‘We can leverage our network and redeploy on demand’, he explains.
As for UPS, the company developed a post-Brexit SCS solution that enabled its clients to keep inventory closer to their UK customers. ‘We can maintain a broad portfolio of carriers and providers to quickly adapt to supply chain disruptions’, Philippe says. ‘This allows customers to avoid service delays, added costs, and administrative burdens associated with customs clearance’.
Next, this conversation would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about how the boom in e-commerce has affected 3PL.
Do you anticipate that e-commerce growth will continue?
‘The growth of the past 18 months shows no sign of slowing down’, Phil says. ‘Consumer habits have altered, in some cases, permanently. Over the last eight months, DHL has seen a 150% increase in its fulfilment division—reflecting the soaring demand’. To keep up, the company has focused on data and automation, as well as deploying robotics solutions alongside its employees. ‘Whether that’s automated pallet systems or pick-and-pack robots’, Phil explains, ‘we’ve coupled technology and data to manage demand, meet customer expectations, and smooth out labour requirements’.
Fundamentally, e-commerce is driving demand for additional labour and space. ‘This presents a unique opportunity for 3PL’, Philippe says. ‘New entrants in retail platforms, though currently small, will look to disrupt the giant retail players. They’ll be closer to their customers in the city. And they’ll try to unify and digitalise SME brick-and-mortar retailers’.
How are shifting customer expectations - such as the next-day “Amazon Effect” - impacting 3PL?
‘We see 3PLs expanding their networks to be closer to consumers and integrating fulfilment with last-mile delivery’, says Philippe. ‘They have to expand their reverse logistics, including investments in warehouse space’. He suggests that data analytics can enhance visibility and help 3PL companies address inefficiencies. ‘With the right technology’, he says, ‘businesses can access accurate, connected data and derive actionable insights’.
Predictive and prescriptive analytics, when coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning, can help companies understand when, why, and how supply chain disruptions occur. ‘This way’, Philippe adds, ‘they can prepare for them—or better yet, sidestep them completely’.
In addition, customers now expect companies to follow through on their social commitments...
Can 3PLs help organisations deliver on their ESG objectives, such as reducing carbon emissions?
Absolutely. Through UPS’s Eco-Responsible Packaging Programme, for instance, the company evaluates its clients’ packaging processes to determine the best way to protect their products and the planet. In addition, the corporation works with carriers on creative, lower-emissions solutions. ‘By 2025, we plan to source 40% of all ground fuel from sources other than conventional gasoline and diesel’, Philippe explains. ‘That’s nearly double what we used in 2016’. By then, 25% of UPS’s total electricity will come from renewable sources.
As for DHL, the company offers a portfolio of GoGreen solutions, which offers its customers a range of ways to minimise their impact on the environment. ‘This includes everything from carbon reporting and analytics solutions to investments in internationally-recognised climate protection projects’, says Phil. ‘Sustainability provides us an opportunity to collaborate with our customers’.
Yet, it’s often challenging to serve customers in highly regulated industries. How can companies overcome those hurdles?
‘Companies operating in highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals and life science face extra pressure on their supply chains’, Phil explains. ‘Dealing with rapidly growing changes then requires depth and breadth, which is something a global business such as DHL can offer’. To overcome regulatory challenges, DHL offers its clients dedicated sector specialists who understand niche industries but still have access to its global network.
At the end of the day, Philippe comments, 3PLs must take responsibility for running compliant programmes and services. ‘Licensed or not’, he says, ‘they’ll need to work with their highly regulated customers to ensure that SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and audit processes are in place’.
What do the next 12 months hold for 3PL providers?
‘Providers will focus on mastering omnichannel e-commerce’, says Philippe. ‘You’ll see faster last-mile delivery, more sustainable logistics and packaging, and better forecasting for risk management’. Overall, he notes, 3PL providers will invest in data analytics and new warehouse technologies to provide greater visibility into their supply chains.
For example, UPS is rolling out a new suite of digital engagement tools. According to Philippe, the company introduced a new UPS Forwarding Hub, UPS Customs Brokerage, and CoyoteGo portals to help their supply chain solution clients. In addition, its e-Fulfilment and Ware2Go products help small- and medium-sized businesses outsource with ease. ‘We’ve focused on adopting technologies to improve our operations’, Philippe says.
Finally, UPS’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG) has implemented robotics, drones, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, new software platforms, and sensor technologies to increase its 2021 revenues and cut bottom-line costs. Says Philippe: ‘With these tools, we can meet customer expectations for real-time tracking, end-to-end visibility, and personalised service’.
And there you have it: the future of 3PL.