Interview with Tim Brown, Jersey Post
Ahead of the World Mail & Express Americas (WMX Americas) Conference in Miami, we caught up with Tim Brown, Chief Executive at Jersey Post. Tim will be speaking at WMX Americas 2019 and offers his thoughts on the conference and the future of the industry.
P&P – Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company.
TB – I have over 25 years’ experience in the post, parcel and distribution industry. This has included senior positions at Royal Mail and DHL Express. I was CEO of Postcomm, the UK’s postal regulator, and was vice-chair of the European Regulators’ Group for Post. I have also provided advice to government, consultancy and interim management to post and parcel companies and their suppliers.
The Jersey Post Group was established in 1969, and incorporated from the local government in 2006, Jersey Post now operates a network of 21 post offices across the island. In addition, Jersey Post provides postal delivery services to all Jersey residential households and businesses, five days a week.
Sitting alongside our post office and delivery networks, is a range of complementary services that enable us to provide a full suite of postal products and solutions for consumers and businesses of any size and sector.
Over the past four years, we have cultivated our global proposition through the utilisation of our logistical expertise, developing capabilities in cross-border e-commerce, freight forwarding, air conveyancing, customs clearance and warehousing. In addition to our European base of operations, we now have a physical presence in North and South America, and Australasia with over 12 regional hubs
During this time we have also seen the way in which customers and businesses communicate constantly evolve as technology has progressed. A huge shift towards online services, combined with the need for instant and direct access to information, has made digital services a key element of our diversification strategy, culminating with the launch of Jersey Post Digital in November 2018.
P&P – What will you be speaking about at WMX Americas this year?
TB – I will be discussing the importance of leveraging competitive advantage in an established market, detailing how the quality of your proposition can differentiate your business in a historically price sensitive industry.
P&P – What do you hope our delegates will take away from your presentation?
TB – No matter what industry you are in, once you choose to develop a global presence – what you do to set yourself apart can be the difference between success and failure.
P&P – What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing your business today?
TB – Meeting customer expectations, managing the decline of traditional mail, continuing to adapt to shifting market conditions and ensuring long-term revenue growth and stability for Jersey Post.
P&P – Apart from the presentations and content, what aspect of WMX Americas are you most looking forward to?
TB – The opportunity to network with industry peers and to showcase our products and services alongside other leading service providers and operators.
P&P – How can we advance the post and parcel industry?
TB – Many postal operators are resistant to change, however, e-commerce continues to drive the industry as postal operators around the world grapple to manage customer expectations when delivering more parcels and packets than ever before.
Investing in technology, systems and processes to meet this demand and diversifying beyond traditional core postal products will help drive the industry forward and enable it to remain relevant.
However, much of what we hear is about industry improving what it is doing today: automating delivery, automating processing, tweaking a sort plan etc. etc. This is doing what we do today but better. What we need to do is change what we actually do, not just how we do it. A lot is claimed about thinking outside the box but in most cases the change presented hasn’t even managed to open the box!
P&P – How has the post and parcel industry changed in the past 5 years? What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?
TB – 10 years ago, Jersey Post was fundamentally a postal operator delivering traditional mail products to customers. Today we view ourselves as a global logistics business of which mail is only one of a number of services.
With the recent adoption to blockchain in some areas of the logistics industry, signs indicate that the post and parcel industry will have to continue to adapt to new technology over the next 5 to 10 years to continue to enhance the e-commerce and retail experience for customers and consumers. However as large high street retailers begin to scale back bricks and mortar stores, e-commerce giants like Amazon are developing small experience-driven retail stores (Amazon Go) making shopping even easier than online.
P&P – What is the biggest challenge in the post and parcel industry at the moment?
TB – As a postal authority, our key challenge is to remain relevant in an increasingly digital environment. Equally, we need to continually identify and predict future trends in customer behaviour to keep pace with business and consumer expectations, whilst minimising costs and remaining competitive and profitable.
P&P – What are the most critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively?
TB – Customers expect a seamless e-commerce experience across all touchpoints when interacting with businesses. Outdated systems leave customers unhappy and frustrated. Postal authorities need to invest in technology to enable them to compete on a global scale and stay ahead of the curve if they are to have a sustainable future.
However, this not only goes for technology. We have to offer solutions that meet the needs of today and that means perhaps moving away from an over reliance on core product i.e. mail. You can look across much of industry and time and see sectors and businesses trying to defend the status quo, King Canute like – whilst change happens around them. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.
We hear many, when their old business model begins to fail, cry for protectionism, regulation: it’s the cry from the playground “it’s not fair”. Our industry has to have a thirst for transformation: as Jack Welch supposedly said – “search out those things that will make our current businesses irrelevant and invest in those”.
P&P – What effect has BlockChain made on the post and parcel industry?
TB – With blockchain making it safer for the industry to share data and use the Internet to conduct business, it really looks set to drive efficiency in areas of transportation, logistics and supply chain in the future.
P&P – What’s the one piece of advice you would you give to companies starting out in your sector?
TB – Success is not guaranteed! Build the best possible team you can to drive the business forward and listen very carefully to your customers.
P&P – What impacts do you foresee from President Trump’s American Made policy and / or the recent US China trade wars?
TB – From what I see, Trump is about championing the American business and the American citizen: what he says and how it does it is not something for me to comment on. However, like any commercial business this poses the question for our operation in the USA, and indeed in any country we operate in, is how we provide businesses with competitive advantage in trading with the rest of the world, and how do citizens get the best service they need. That’s what we focus on. Our services into South America, Europe, UK, China and Australia enable American businesses to be successful in some of the strongest markets in the world.
Tim will be speaking at the World Mail & Express Americas Conference 2019. WMX Americas is taking place at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay (10 – 12 February 2019). Visit www.wmxamericas.com for more information.