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Key considerations for home delivery best practice: a few words of advice from Argos, Dreams and Wincanton

Our recent home delivery event, held at our Technology Centre here in Dorking, was a huge success bringing together over 20 supply chain and logistics professionals to discuss the importance of providing a consistently positive customer experience.

The panel of speakers from three of the most successful home delivery operations in the UK – Argos, Dreams and Wincanton – talked about how their last mile service has become a critical differentiator for their brand, generating some lively debate about how best to put the customer at the forefront of a retailer’s order fulfilment strategy.

There was some debate around the table about the levels of service required for different markets. All were in agreement that choice and certainty were critical aspects of any home delivery offer but that this cannot be provided at any cost, so it is essential that the service is provided as efficiently as possible.

Wayne Holgate, responsible for Paragon’s home delivery system, kicked off the event explaining that all the available market data points towards continued growth in online and mobile retail spend and the only statistic showing a downwards trend is average basket value. He suggested this is driving how retailers approach omnichannel fulfilment, but recognised that there was still work to do because 40 per cent of UK shoppers claim that delivery concerns still prevent them from purchasing online.

Wayne talked through the importance of giving customers what we call the Paragon 7Cs: choice, certainty, communication, control, convenience, confidence, choice and cost before introducing our panel of speakers:

Argos logo

Andy Brown, Central Operations Director, Argos
Andy provided some interesting insight into how Argos has undergone a business-changing transformation into a leading digital retailer. This includes a national home delivery operation, which now offers immediate store collection or same-day delivery to 95 per cent of UK mainland homes.

Andy’s three takeaways for the audience were:

  • Start from what makes you different – Argos was able to exploit a fulfilment operation that possessed 100 per cent stock visibility to create a Fast Track service with high levels of certainty and reliability.
  • If the data is too good to be true, it probably is – always check, and double check performance data to establish the true picture. Overly positive results can often be misleading so continuous improvement can only be achieved by questioning and verifying everything.
  • Be patient – don’t expect success overnight, because there will always be enhancements to be made and sometimes glitches to overcome.
Dreams logo

Brian McCarthy, Logistics Director, Dreams
Brian talked passionately about how the customer experience has  become central to home delivery best practice at Dreams. He explained the importance of providing certainty and choice, but also the need to be friendly and respectful to the customer at all times.

The three takeaways that Brian left us with were as follows:

  • Always do what you said you would do – the cost of recovery and potential damage to the business’ brand is simply too high to fail.
  • Be driven by how you would feel and what you would expect as a consumer – educate and incentivise delivery teams to ensure they provide a service that they would want themselves.
  • The importance of honesty:at ALL levels with ALL customers – lies always get found out eventually, so when you get something wrong just admit it. When failure does occur it’s about taking a hands-on approach to fix the problem.
Wincanton logo

Steve Bailey, Head of IT Business Solutions Architecture, Wincanton
Steve’s presentation outlined Wincanton’s approach  to exceeding expectations in a multi-client environment. The customer service requirement, he suggested, needs to be embedded in all aspects of order fulfilment in order to provide the necessary choice to the consumer and protect the brand of the business.

Steve concluded with these three points:

  • Treat each business as if it is your own – only by living and breathing a retailer’s brand, business strategy and operational requirements can you deliver customer-centric home delivery experience that is right for them.
  • Don’t become complacent in a changing world – customer expectations will continue to change and technology capabilities will evolve, so it is essential to keep abreast of the latest developments and demands within the marketplace.
  • Deliver efficient cost-effective solutions for your customers – service improvements do not have to result in spiralling costs. Optimise every process to drive efficiency while enhancing the consumer experience.

During the course of the event, people around the table exchanged their views on the highs and lows of building customer-centric home delivery operations but also many anecdotes from their own experiences as consumers.

Most of us have home delivery stories to tell – both good and bad. When we’re building home delivery operations, it’s important to stop and ask “what do I expect from a home delivery experience?”. The challenge is then to balance that vision with a cost-efficient transport operation that doesn’t cost the earth.

We built the Paragon Technology Centre so that we could host roundtable industry events like this on the subject of home delivery best practice and wider transport operations. If you’d like to attend one of our events, do get in touch. We’ll add you to the mailing list for our forthcoming events schedule.

In the meantime, you can keep up to date by following our latest news on LinkedIn.


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