DPD pioneering doorstep feedback for e-commerce shippers

Courier company DPD Ireland is in the process of adding a new service for its e-commerce clients that allows delivery staff to pop a quick survey question to recipients of online purchases. The question might be a prompt for a “warm” sales call to be made later on, or it might be a question to help ensure the shipping process has been satisfactory.

The system seeks to overcome one of the biggest challenges faced by carriers and online retailers – the last mile.

It uses technology from London-based mobile communications specialists Blackbay, adding a specially targeted survey question to be asked by a carrier when the final scan is completed on delivering a parcel.

It might, for example, mean a consumer who has just bought a new iPad can be asked whether they might need an external keyboard to go with it.

Or, it could be used to ensure a specific shipping instruction has been carried out to the letter, and the customer is happy with their online purchasing experience.

The system could also be used to assist with returns process in the event that an item is being replaced.

The technology comes in the form of a Survey Module for the Blackbay platform, with DPD the first shipping company to use it from next month, in time for this year’s festive season.

Real-time

Brendan O’Neill, DPD Ireland’s chief executive, said there was now a growing appetite for access to real-time data in both the business-to-business market and also the business-to-consumer market, which is becoming increasingly important to DPD Ireland as consumer buying habits shift.

“The real-time data captured as consumers take delivery of their goods, will help e-retailers improve their customer service by checking whether drivers have complied with specific delivery instructions, such as delivering goods to a designated ‘safe place’ or that all the components of the goods ordered have been delivered,” said O’Neill. “Any discrepancies are passed back to the e-retailer who is then able to deal with them immediately.”

Adding value

Blackbay has been testing out its Survey Module for nine months, and already has interest in the system from carriers as far away as Australia.

Nigel Doust, chief executive at Blackbay, told Post&Parcel there were two trains of thought at the moment in organising courier services for the likes of ecommerce companies. The first, he suggested, was the strategy of making as quick a stop as possible at each house, in order to keep overall costs down to the minimum.

The second approach, he said, aimed to make the most use of a delivery event in improving the shipping system and gaining additional value for online retailers in continuing the business process with the consumer.

“There’s another discussion about who is delivering to the door – is it a courier or a customer service agent? But we’re not there yet, I don’t think there’s any call now for delivery people to suddenly become sales people,” said Doust.

“This is just simple doorstep interaction – ideally single question, simple answer. And it’s not always for the customer – part of what this survey capability can do is that the business user can ensure a driver has carried out all his instructions, and not give out information on what the next delivery is until those instructions have been completed.”

In terms of the sales potential for the technology, DPD said one of its customers believed a 60% conversion rate was possible for a “warm” lead presented by doorstep interaction.

The company also believes the Blackbay solution has helped it achieve a 98.6% delivery success rate – a critical factor in the increasingly competitive world of ecommerce shipping.

DPD Ireland

Athlone-based DPD Ireland, part of DPD, the express unit of France’s La Poste, currently has 38 depots around Ireland handling about 6m parcels a year.

It has been using Blackbay’s enterprise mobility platform for three years, has now extended its contract for a further five years, running up to 2016.

The carrier has seen its volumes increasing 19% since 2009, despite the difficult Irish economy, and is now looking to “aggressively” expand in the B2C market, although B2B remains an important area for it.

And more real-time data within the process will be key to making that swoop for marketshare, it believes.

The access to real-time data is the linchpin that holds first time, right time, every time deliveries together,” said O’Neill.

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