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Retailers need to rethink their delivery options

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A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the law firm Thomas Eggar LLP, looked at consumer views on retail deliveries. The findings suggest that retailers’ brand images are intrinsically linked to their logistics fulfilment. Businesses should be aware that a substantial amount of 2063 surveyed adults across the UK said they would associate a bad delivery experience with the retailer rather than the courier or logistics provider. A small proportion wouldn’t be sure who to blame. One such company was founded on these bases and has capitalised on the poor, and even average, options offered by retailers.

Urban Bundles is a luxury alternative to hasty couriers, and is slowly revolutionising deliveries by replacing the traditional 3-5 day waiting time with premium delivery options.

Founded in 2013 by university friends Kate Kennedy and Lucy Major, Urban Bundles was inspired by the duo’s personal experiences of online shopping. A look at social media told several stories of customers’ goods arriving in a less-than perfect condition which can prove damaging for the reputations of retailers.

After testing deliveries and seeing the opportunity to bridge a gap between brands and shoppers, Kennedy and Major partnered with their first well-known retailer last year, one which happened to be looking for a provider of bespoke, same-day delivery services. The company wanted to own the process but not in-house. Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, securing clients like Aquascutum, Thomas Pink, a luxury department store and a global beauty brand.

A same-day delivery service is one of the many ways Urban Bundles is set apart from other couriers. Deliveries are managed using software that is integrated into retailers’ sales systems. Stock is collected directly from the store and sent straight to the recipients’ desired address, bypassing the distribution centre which is usually well outside city centres. Goods can arrive via branded vans or a range of customised vehicles that reflect the client’s brand, such as classic cars or vintage bikes.

The business is driven (pun intended) by carefully selected and well dressed drivers who the founders invest a lot in recruiting.

“We find that one of the more challenging aspects of the business” Kennedy told Retail Gazette. “Drivers don’t get treated particularly well and because they are paid per drop-off, their aim is to get as many parcels out a day. As long as they get a signature, there is no motivation to ensure smooth delivery”.

The way that Urban Bundles differentiates itself, is by paying their drivers a day rate, providing customer service training and encouraging them to have a chat with recipients. They are even invited to have tea with both founders in their Mayfair offices which guarantees that when out doing deliveries, the drivers’ focuses remain on providing outstanding service. What this does is bring forth the store experience and in turn, customers find the friendliness of the driver synonymous with the retailer they ordered from.

Motivated drivers help the same-day delivery service run smoothly. A customer might, for example, order a dress which would be steamed in-store, collected by the driver, hung on a rail in an Urban Bundles van and delivered immediately so that the recipient can wear on the same evening. What will also be of interest to shoppers is the ‘wait & return’ service on offer. Customers might order two shoe sizes and try both on while the driver waits 15 minutes. He or she can then return the unwanted item back to store straight away. Choices like this will put Urban Bundles’ clients ahead of any other retailer’s game.

“We take the changing room straight to the customer’s door!” Kennedy tells us.

While things have been running rather seamlessly so far, issues can arise from outdated store processes. Stock levels and transfers between branches can occasionally prove problematic which is why retailers need to look at revamping their systems.

“There are several layers to go through before Bundles can be integrated into checkout systems” says Kennedy.

In an era of instant gratification, this charming delivery service is setting the standards high for customer expectations. Currently, Urban Bundles serves designated London postcodes with plans to extend its reach.

Published on Thursday 25 September by Editorial Assistant

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