MetaPack Delivery Conference 2015 Highlights

The Delivery Conference
The Delivery Conference

Yesterday, February 3rd, MetaPack staged their 6th annual Delivery Conference - and it sure did deliver. As one of the companies fortunate enough to exhibit at the industry leading event with over 1000 attendees, we thought we’d share our views on what went down and who stood out. Keep your ears to the ground because we’ve got a lot to say about this year’s event.

With the theme being ‘Delivering Choice in a Customer Centric World’, it was no surprise that the customer experience was at the heart of most of the speaking sessions. It is also of little surprise when you consider that the customer should be the main focus of any eCommerce business - after all, what is a retailer without the people buying from them?

“They used to say that the customer is king but now they are the masters of the universe.”

- Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman at Ocado

Graham Cooke, Founder and CEO at Qubit, had plenty to say on the use of big data with regards to the customer journey. To pull an inception move we’re going to quote Graham quoting Clayton Christensen: “In this new world, the bottom line of business isn’t profits, but rather customer delight.” According to Qubit statistics, by 2016 89% of businesses will compete on customer experience. This is good news for the customer but it’s a call-to-arms for eCommerce retailers to ready themselves.

Qubit Talk
Qubit Talk

The day kicked off with a panel of industry giants, including Royal Mail, Argos, and ao.com, discussing the management of service at peak. Stemming from customer centricity, one of the big talking points was Black Friday. It’s certainly no secret that the world of eCommerce was wildly unprepared for the mass of sales that weekend, and pretty much all of the speakers were in agreement that the date is firmly locked into our calendars. The year on year growth for Black Friday is a staggering 50%, and it’s expected to be even bigger this year.

There are lots of ways for e-tailers to prepare for Black Friday 2015, but one of the most significant is providing a multitude of delivery options. It seems surprising that, despite all the advancements made in this industry, customers are still dependent on standard delivery of up to 5 working days with so few flexible delivery options. Their behaviours are changing, their lives are busier, and they need that parcel delivered where they want it, when they want it. Especially when it hits peak season and those wooden clogs for Uncle Rob have to be wrapped and underneath the tree in time for Christmas.

“Customers are actually tolerant of delivery delays, but they’re intolerant of a lack of information.”

- Dick Stead, Executive Chairman at Yodel

That said, it was a popular opinion from the likes of Ulrich Dehmer, Global Program Manager TMS at Kuehne+Nagel, and Dick Stead that customers don’t necessarily want quicker deliveries. In fact, many consumers are happy to wait a little longer for their delivery provided that they are kept informed. Retailers are being encouraged to move from a reactive supply chain to a proactive one so that when a customer’s delivery is altered they can be updated immediately. This kind of system is already being developed by DPD with their in-flight delivery options making convenient delivery not too far beyond the horizon.

Later in the morning, we heard from several speakers who presented another major theme for the event: global expansion. The growth of eCommerce in the UK is still strong but it is 12-15% higher in Germany. In fact, international growth overall is higher than domestic and carriers such as Hermes are expanding their pan-European markets. Over ⅓ of French and Germans order from UK retailers but the worry of difficult returns stops 50% of people from ordering internationally. The UK culture cannot simply be copy-and-pasted globally which does make expansion more difficult. For instance, Russia and Poland use a cash-on-delivery scheme whereas Germany has recently implemented a network of lockers throughout the urban areas. The world is a big place and people are eager for a solution to the globalisation of UK eCommerce, so it will be a race to the finish line for those hoping to capitalise on this untapped market.

CEO and Founder of Metapack, Patrick Wall, commented that 2015 looks to be a big year of change for eCommerce as mobile devices continue to leave their mark. Over Christmas, the majority of sales were still made through PCs but mCommerce is definitely growing. Consumers will always choose convenience so the burden falls to the retailers to make their websites as accessible as possible, which includes scaling down to a mobile site or app.

Jonathan's speech
Jonathan's speech

In the afternoon, our founder Jonathan Bellwood had a speaking slot alongside Google and Qubit, during which he discussed how to identify the revenue lost due to missed sales opportunities from poor inventory levels. It’s a rookie mistake that no e-tailer wants to make. Following on the wave of technology, he also posed the question of whether a warehouse could be run without the need for voice, handheld scanners, and paper systems. A warehouse manager’s dream or a glimpse into the future? Only time will tell. In case you missed it, watch this space for the video of Jonathan’s talk.

If you weren’t able to attend the event and you’re wild with jealousy, our highlights should give you enough fodder to make your friends believe otherwise. Plus, if you still find yourself wanting more then fear not because our review is far from over. Read our further posts on the Innovating Through Delivery panel, Managing Demand at Peak session, and the 3PLs - Embracing Innovation panel, for more of the lowdown.

 Author: Jess Lawrence