The Shutl challenge to Business as Usual

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The low point of most industry events is a banal, uninspired keynote or presentation from a dull and uninspiring executive from Yesteryear Ltd delivering, at tedious length, a talk entirely lacking in new and fresh information with all the enthusiasm of Nick Clegg.

So when an interesting and vibrant speaker comes to the fore, boy do I perk up! At ECMOD in November, the stand out speaker was Tom Allason from Shutl.

It’s fair to say that previously I thought Shutl was just another courier kid on the ecommerce block and thus not of any particular interest. I was wrong about that and was corrected by Allason. He made two, blindingly obvious points about ecommerce delivery that resonated with me:

1) The old-style ecommerce couriers and postal systems are still thinking on a “next-day” basis at the very least.
2) The delivery companies determine the timings of deliveries. Not the customers.

All this was amply demonstrated by various stats and figures (which I didn’t scribble down) and underpinned two more clear facts. Firstly, delivery is the big painpoint for online shoppers and satisfaction is astonishingly low among buyers when it comes to their delivery experiences. Secondly, people would buy more stuff online (spend more, more often) if the problems of receiving the goods could be smoothed out and more attuned to their lifestyle.

Shutl, needless to say, think they have an answer to these issues and they’ve done it by rethinking the ecommerce model. In certain locations (major metropolitan centres right now and it seems like pretty much London) with certain online retailers (you can see a list on their website but the names include Argos and Maplin) when you check out and buy, you have the option to use Shutl.

When you choose Shutl, you then decide when you want the item delivered. That could be right away or you could choose any time in subsequent days or even weeks. But you do choose the slot and a local courier will bring you the goods from the shop. Very neat.

The same-day aspect, meaning you could have delivery within the hour, really stands out because this could be so useful in a myriad of occasions.

But it’s pricey right? No. £5, says Allason. That’s cheaper than a lot of the next day old school courier fees you’d pay for delivery on all sorts of ecommerce sites.

Reach aside, this all feels rather revolutionary to me. Who needs to be worried? For pureplay ecommerce merchants, Shutl offers succour to a High Street struggling to keep up in all other fronts with online.

The traditional carriers also need to keep an eye out because what shone through at ECMOD was the verve of these young entrepreneurs hungry for success, keen as mustard and clever. And Allason seemed all the more bright in contrast with the dull stuffed shirts the traditional carriers sent to share the same platform.

Shutl should be wary too. They have a model that can be pinched, so their success will depend on execution. Same-day delivery is already on the radar for many in ecommerce. Amazon is investing heavily building a same-day delivery network stateside. And eBay is trialling eBay Now in San Francisco, and judging by that linked article it looks a lot like Shutl.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Shutl is already looking the US for expansion although we’d love to see it more widely available outside London in the UK (and we intend a cheeky test at some point). But it’s good to have an interesting, homegrown start-up to consider. It would be heartening if the Shutl service could be actively opened up to as many ecommerce SMEs as possible too.

The folks at Shutl have got a good idea that’s riding the crest of a trend, and they’re bright and energetic. We can confidently state: Shutl is one company we’ll be watching and writing about in 2013.

6 Responses

  1. we think the idea is akin to inventing the wheel quite exciting ,got to work. if only they can get the humans that deliver these goods and accept them to work properly

  2. Since the driver is likely to go directly from shop to customer without the use of a central depot there should be less damaged deliveries. Less people in the chain will reduce the chance of theft.


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