The evolution of Scurri

The evolution of Scurri

Post & Parcel recently interviewed Rory O’Connor, CEO of the delivery management platform Scurri, at a pivotal moment of growth for the company.

Over the past year Scurri processed over €12 billion worth of shipments worldwide, acquired conversational AI platform, HelloDone, and is preparing to launch operations in Germany. Rory discusses how Scurri aims to transform e-commerce by keeping customers at the very heart of delivery.

 Can you tell me about your background?

I started my career working in sales and marketing for Waterford Crystal in Ireland, part of the luxury goods company, Wedgewood.   My career path shifted when my boss asked me to project lead on the sales distribution side of the business. I didn’t really know much about distribution at the time but I found it really fascinating. I was also really interested in technology and was involved in a project looking at how to move Waterford online so we could sell direct to customers, which was quite ahead of its time in the 1990s.

Wedgewood went into administration so I started doing consultancy work for brands like Heineken. I’ve always wanted to set up a company myself so in 2010 I decided to set up Scurri.

When you started Scurri what did you want to achieve?

I knew that SMEs didn’t have good access to logistics from working in retail for large companies. So from 2010-2014 I developed a product to address this. It was originally built as a competitor to parcel2go in Ireland.

What makes Scurri different to other delivery management platforms?

Scurri has always been a customer-led company. If you look at our competitors, they tend to be tech companies who have a great solution and then have to find a way to fit it into the market. I came at it from the opposite end, I have worked in retail and distribution and know what it’s like to operate in a warehouse.  I knew there was a problem and I wanted to fix it. Scurri’s Net Promoter Score reflects our customer-led focus – it ranges from the low to high 80s and that’s a score similar to a huge company like Google.

What do you offer to customers?

From the start I was really clear I didn’t want a calling system where the customer has to wait and dial one for this service or that. If something goes wrong, and things rarely go wrong, customers can ring a dedicated line where they can quickly access a highly trained engineer who knows what they’re talking about and can fix their problem.  I understand the reality of what an Ops manager has to deal with on a day-to-day basis – I have sat in warehouses with parcels piling up.   Because we are customer rather than product focused that doesn’t mean that we aren’t innovative. We are innovative in the way we approach problems – we always put the customer first.

How did you roll out in the UK?

So we started off focused on UK retailers who use our interface to manage sales on their websites but then we got approached by carriers and posts who liked our product and asked if we would white label our product and provide it for their customers.

Today we have about 20,000 SMEs using the software themselves or indirectly through the white label version. This gives retailers the opportunity to manage everything and our software also ties into Shopify so they can pull in orders easily.

 How are you working with platforms?

We are doing a lot of work with platforms like eBay who increasingly want to take control of the delivery experience. The difference when eBay uses us is they build their front and back-end experience themselves using their expertise in content design and use our APIs to help organise deliveries. Traditionally eBay sellers would have to go to the post office and buy stamps to send their products. Now eBay is competing with companies like Amazon who have the full delivery experience we are here to help them to match that. Sellers on eBay now have access to a range of carriers, through Scurri, to ensure speed of delivery bringing the customer service in-line with that offered by Amazon.

Why was 2023 such a milestone year for you?

In 2023 we saw an increase in the total gross merchandising value (GMV) of goods processed through our platform, which totaled over €12 billion.   I have to pinch myself sometimes – it’s like the GDP of a small country!

So the things which have changed for us, firstly we have attracted a number of really good brands from a range of sectors including The Perfume Shop, Brand Alley and Victoria Plumbing and equestrian brand LeMieux. We are attracting these big brands because they are serious about delivery as part of their overall experience and we can offer them a competitive advantage by doing it well.

On the other side of the platform, we have added about 20 different carriers and over 350 different services. We are constantly evolving to make the platform more valuable for our customers. One of our key integrations is Track Plus which we launched last year.

What is Track Plus?

We have always offered tracking on Scurri but Track Plus allows retailers to take control of the tracking and to manage the post purchase experience. Up until now it has been the weakest part of the e-commerce journey for retailers and the point where they lost control of their items. Today delivery is becoming a real focus area for brands as they now understand that being able to track delivery post purchase is vital to providing a resilient service. With Track Plus, regardless of the carrier, the customer always has the same experience and the app uses customer friendly wording which businesses can customise with their branding.

Could you even imagine this level of tracking when you started up Scurri?

I remember when I ordered my first book from Amazon. It was due to arrive in a few weeks which was absolutely normal – there were no chains on timing. Today, people want to know the hour items will arrive. People on average check about 10 times to see where their parcel is – creating opportunities for brands and retailers to boost loyalty during the highly engaged post-purchase period.

Are you planning to roll out your solution for other postal operators outside of the UK?

There is a huge opportunity for expansion to other postal operators. Using a company like Scurri can be really beneficial as our priority is to build cutting-edge software which helps postal operators to manage their retail sales on their website as well as all the HR backend work by using the white label version, giving them more time to focus on operations.

Can you tell me about your expansion in Ireland?

We now have 70 people working for Scurri and we were considering going entirely remote but we decided to stay hybrid and opened a new office in Ireland.  We felt that investing in an office meant we could use our time in the office for intensive collaboration and also to train our more junior developers. It’s the best of both worlds and the days we are in the office we can create better software, better customer service experience and personal development for our staff because they can learn from their colleagues.

Can you tell me about your international expansion plans?

Up until 2014, UK was our main market and while it is not the biggest market we believe it is actually the most sophisticated for postal and parcel delivery –   there are so many players and so many different options out there. If you compare the UK to the US where there are four major carriers which deliver 95% of the home delivery volume. Whereas in the UK the equivalent is using around 100 third party carriers to get to that 95%.

After 2014 we changed our business model and were about to launch into Germany in 2021 taking all the lessons we have learnt in the UK. However we had to pause when COVID hit but we have now launched into Germany, we have volumes and customers ready to go and are hiring staff to take it to the next level.

How do you think environmental concerns will change the delivery landscape?

I think consumers will be more conscious of which courier is doing better for the environment and there will be more choice of locations to deliver to including lockers and Pick Up and Drop Off points. What will help all of this is the technological ability to provide these solutions. At the moment the amount of operators using exclusively electric vehicles is pretty low but we believe having it available on the platform is important so people can have the choice.

What are Scurri’s plans for AI?

We have just announced that we have acquired specialist conversational AI platform, HelloDone, to offer enhanced customer services within the delivery experience.

We have been doing a lot of research into AI and our approach has been very careful and pragmatic.  Because we’re very customer focused, we weren’t trying to find a nice shiny tool – it had to speed up the process and solve a problem, the customer has to get a good experience.  HelloDone’s conversational AI solution answers post-purchase customer queries on digital messaging channels like WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.  This means retailers can automate responses to customer queries via AI-powered chat, offering effective and immediate resolutions of customer needs at scale.  HelloDone’s solution augments our existing carrier management and post-purchase solutions to deliver enhanced delivery experiences and customer service.

How do you want Scurri to improve the e-commerce experience?

The fundamental difference between buying in store and online is the delivery aspect, you buy something and instore it is handed to you. The difference with online, you are buying into the promise they will get the goods to you, and then you get to experience the goods. But a lot of people have anxiety of some sort, while they are waiting for the goods and this often leads to returns when the goods arrive. Scurri’s vision is to improve remove this friction point – we call it connected commerce as it is all about getting product into your hands and connecting the physical and digital. There is a huge amount we can do to help improve this area. Track Plus is just part of this evolution.

What are your ambitions for Scurri?

Over the next couple of years we want to grow in the region of 30-40%. We have come out of Covid era and are getting really solid growth and we want to build on that. And there is our planned expansion into Germany, and expansion to more postal operators and platforms. So overall we are going to continue what we are doing and do more of it in more countries and just focus on that and not be distracted.

How would you like the industry to see you?

I keep saying this to our team that if we are shipping over 12 billion of goods, we are making a dent in the world of e-commerce. We did some research recently, and we were the most recognised brand of delivery management amongst our competitors and we have got to that stage in a short amount of time. Going forward if Scurri is the first name that came to retailer’s minds when they think of global e-commerce delivery, that would be a great legacy!

 About Rory O’Connor 

 Rory O’ Connor is the founder and CEO of Scurri, a configurable next generation delivery management software that puts retailers back in control of their business by cutting costs, coordinating carriers, scaling capabilities, and enhancing their offer. In developing a technology that connects delivery companies with retailers sending the deliveries, Scurri found a gap in the market.

Since its launch in 2010, Rory has focused on building and leading an impressive team who have grown Scurri to a business that has processed over €12Bn worth of global shipments in ‘23. Rory has acquired significant investment for the software business, raising €15.3 million investment to date from private angel investors, Institutional VC investors and the Irish government development fund, Enterprise Ireland. He is a regular speaker at international tech conferences and media commentator on the eCommerce sector.

Prior to founding Scurri, he worked in Waterford Wedgwood Plc, as a Management Consultant and for AOL broadband, during which he accumulated a broad range of skills and worked in sales, marketing, technology and strategic roles in those businesses. Rory has a number of business qualifications including a degree in Business Studies, post grad qualifications in Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship and an MBA from Henley Management College at the University of Reading.

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