Royal Mail shows how it is evolving to ecommerce needs at home and China
Royal Mailhas set out how it plans to maintain its leading position in the UK delivery market through in...
Royal Mail has set out how it plans to maintain its leading position in the UK delivery market through initiatives that include giving online shoppers and retailers services that suit the way they buy and sell.
During its latest financial year, the company has moved further into the ecommerce market through initiatives that include giving Amazon’s customers the ability to collect their online orders through 10,500 Post Offices and setting up a shop on the Tmall marketplace to enable more than 300m Chinese consumers the opportunity to buy “distinctively” British products, shipped via Parcelforce Worldwide. Tmall is a subsidiary of the giant Chinese-based ecommerce company, Alibaba. Meanwhile, eBay buyers can now track returned items, while sellers through the marketplace can more easily print delivery labels.
But despite its partnership with Amazon, the delivery company said the effect of the UK’s largest online retailer delivering through its own Amazon Logistics network would be to hit its own parcel deliveries. It forecast that total parcel deliveries would grow by 4 percent a year in the medium-term but said the Amazon effect would restrict Royal Mail’s potential rate of growth to between 1 and 2 percent. Royal Mail said in a statement: “Overcapacity has combined with the reduced rate of growth in the addressable market to create pricing pressure in all segments.” In its latest financial year, UK parcel volumes were up by 3 percent but revenues rose by only 1 percent. Letter volumes fell by 4 percent, with revenues down 1 percent.
Other moves to suit online buyers and sellers include a move to extend opening hours across 3,000 Post Office branches during the year, with 2,000 now opening on Sundays.
The company has also refined its Parcelforce Select delivery service, giving control of pre-delivery notifications to the driver. This, said Royal Mail, “ensures that the actual delivery is based on local driver experience, rather than a centrally-generated time window.” And, it added: “We have won new business as a result of this initiative. Customer feedback has been very positive.”
Finally, a new returns portal was launched in March to enable online retailers to manage their returns.
All these new business models and adjustments generated by Royal Mail are a direct result of the increasing importance delivery and logistics are receiving in ecommerce. Retailers are making a bigger effort on thinking out of the box and expanding their supply channels to make themselves available for their consumers.
As the title sponsor for the inaugural eDelivery Conference (EDC), the Royal Mail is leading the way in highlighting the increasingly-demanding promises that are made and delivered by the logistics, operations and supply chain industry. The show will celebrate the collaboration, imagination and rigour of supply chain professionals and explore how today, tomorrow and in the coming years they can truly fulfil the multichannel promise.
The event that will take place on 13th October at Novotel, Hammersmith, will open with a revolutionary three-note keynote with C-level leaders from Shop Direct on how to approach the behind the buy button imperatives and discuss strategies and best-practices in logistics and delivery.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.