Tamebay Interviews Neil Ashworth, CEO at CollectPlus and CCO at Yodel

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At this week’s The Delivery Conference hosted by MetaPack, I had the opportunity to sit down with Neil Ashworth, CEO at CollectPlus and CCO at Yodel, to talk in general about the state of the delivery industry and the two companies in particular.

Neil talked about the history of shopping and how it’s time for the entire industry to change from focussing on the product and shift the emphasis on deliveries to the individual receiving the parcel. He pointed out that for the past 22 years consumers have been able to shop on the high street on Sundays. After a couple of decades of Sunday trading, today’s shoppers are accustomed to purchasing when they want and in the same way they should be able to receive their parcels at a time convenient to them.

Of course for some services such as CollectPlus offer convenience and it’s just been announced that they are ranked no.1 in YouGov’s BrandIndex Satisfaction survey, achieving the highest customer satisfaction rating for delivery experience in 2017. Over 400,000 new customers started to use CollectPlus during 2017, demonstrating the increasing popularity of the service and the convenience of being able to collect a parcel from shops, many of which are open from early morning until late evening 7 days a week.

The future of deliveries

Many consumers however would prefer a delivery to their home and Neil points out that they are still “prevented from acquiring goods on the day they want them“. Whilst the shops are open 7 days a week, couriers are yet to fully embrace evening and weekend deliveries and that will change in the near future.

A problem with better service is still the lack of data on customers. Neil envisages a future where we get to know the customer before we even ship a product. For instance if a courier attempts a delivery several times mid afternoon and the recipient is never at home (perhaps it’s school run time), then it’s safe to assume that next time they have a parcel they also won’t be home mid afternoon.

Couriers do of course have this data at the point of each individual delivery, but it’s not something that in the past has been gathered and collated let alone acted on. It’s all about getting to know the person and tailoring the delivery to their needs, perhaps without them even being aware that you’re doing so.

Yodel – Boringly Reliable

Adrian Harris, COO of Yodel has described the goal to be a ‘Boringly reliable’ courier service. A lot of what the company have achieved and will do in the future is directly influenced by customer feedback. Yodel, handles over 145 million parcels every year and has a relationship with many of the UK’s top retailers. Currently, customers leave Yodel around 7,000 pieces of data a day, over 40,000 per week, when the rate Yodel’s delivery service through their Have Your Say feature.

Yodel are constantly improving their service and now offer a 2 hour predicted delivery window on the day a parcel is due to arrive and have also just launched their Xpect Returns home collection service aiming to make the process of returning an item as simple and familiar as a delivery. Behind this service is the ability to give greater visibility of inventory to retailers – As Neil kept saying, all roads lead back to data.

CollecPlus – Convenience and certainty

CollectPlus is not the lowest cost delivery service and Neil makes no apologies for this. Where they excel is that they sit within the retailer’s checkout flow offering convenience to consumers. Before the customer even completes payment, they are able to select exactly where they’d like to collect their purchase and have confidence that it’ll be left at a convenient location and already know their chosen store’s opening hours and know that they can retrieve their parcel. This is vital in today’s busy world where people not only work but often work different shifts so whilst the 9 to 5 office worker can pick up their parcel in the evening, for a night worker they will often select to collect on their way home from work at 7am in the morning.

Which business is the most exciting – Yodel or CollectPlus?

I asked Neil which business was most exciting to be involved in – Yodel or CollectPlus. He replied that CollectPlus still has a startup feel to it which is pretty exciting in its own right, whereas Yodel is undergoing a long term renewal. Yodel is a business which in the past had reputational challenges that you can’t hide from but that in itself is an opportunity to do something about.

Both Yodel and CollectPlus have changed and evolved significantly in recent years and if you’ve not used either service for your business then both are well worth revisiting. Although the companies are related, they offer different services suitable for different retailers with different consumer proposition and both will continue to grow and change over the next year.

Consumer data, as Neil keeps saying, is key for both businesses but there is one thing that hold true for both Yodel and CollectPlus and that is their meteoric rise up the satisfaction tables by real consumers with first hand experience of their services.

One Response

  1. “Couriers do of course have this data at the point of each individual delivery, but it’s not something that in the past has been gathered and collated let alone acted on. ”
    – and rightly bloody so. i cannot believe anyone is seriously contemplating building a national database of the best time to rob your house, without obtaining consent.

    even if you’re a data control wizard the first time you get hacked you’re liable for every house-breaking in the UK for the next 2 decades.

    “Yodel data tells us Chris Dawson leave his home at 12 robmehous street every morning at 7.30 am, and doesn’t return until 6.30pm”.
    Chris’s neighbours also work all day, so there’s nobody to leave a parcel with, or witness anything untoward going on.
    – that data is useless to a courier on a 9-5 run, other than saying don’t bother even trying to deliver (and thus never see the safe place note you left on the door), but is invaluable to nefarious types wishing to steal your TV.

    if you want to ask the customer to provide that information and consent on the other hand, that’s a different, but potentially similar story.

    i think the answer is (and this will never catch on) go back to charging for delivery, and let the customer choose a time, if they’re not home, they don’t get the delivery money back and need to pay again for the next attempt.
    – it’s a capitalist society, you’re responsible for yourself. it’s not Yodel’s job to know when you’re going to be home, and it’s not my job to subsidise people who can’t achieve the simple task of being in their own home at a time they chose.

    the headline cost (with delivery not included) will be much lower, the actual delivery cost will be much lower, when it doesn’t include 3 failed delivery attempts for everyone, and only the problematic people will pay extra, until they get fed up paying extra and stop being so damn problematic.


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