5 key quotes from Delivery Summit 2019

By Will Gillingham

May. The two-bank-holiday wonder month. The time of year when summer ever-so slightly peeks its head out from behind that wintry curtain, and out-of-offices skyrocket. However, in the cases of retail decision makers and delivery experts, it’s not to the beach that they are destined: it’s to Tower Hill tube station, from which a five-minute stroll through the midmorning warmth takes them to May’s most iconic feature: the IMRG Delivery Summit.

This year saw expert debates on returns and urgent declarations on sustainability. It saw insightful speeches from New Look, Superdry, and Internet Fusion, and more delegates through the door than ever before (to be fair the event is only in its second year, but it’s still true).

For those that could make it: thank you for attending. It was brilliant to share the day with you, and we hope to see you at one of our future conferences. And for those that didn’t, don’t fret: while wagons of revelatory comments were made throughout the day, we’ve identified 5 key quotes to give you a glimpse into the industry perspective of delivery this year.

Without further ado, here they are:

1. ‘Driving volume into stores sounds great, but New Look’s Average Order Value is much higher for home delivery than it is for click and collect.’ – Lana Jackson, Head of Supply Chain and eComm Operations, New Look

Click and collect is mostly seen in a favourable light. The practice brings potential for greater consolidation, and therefore less cost, on the part of the courier, and with customers entering the store to collect their items, there’s a chance for retailers to inspire further purchases with well-strategised visual merchandising.

Which makes this quote from Lana Jackson rather pertinent: if sales figures aren’t analysed in isolation, but rather are stacked up next to each other, is click and collect truly better for profit margins than home delivery? It’s a question which only retailers themselves can answer through testing.


2. ‘The green option hasn’t yet been served up as an idea, and the first carrier who does will get a lot of interest from retailers.’ – Ian Keilty, Director of Retail & Consumer, Wincanton

The theme which formed the backbone of Delivery Summit this year was sustainability. It permeated each panel session in the same way as it’s likely to permeate the wider retail industry in the coming years: predominantly, and immovably.

Speaking from the perspective of carriers, Ian Keilty posited the idea that the ‘green option’ has yet to be explicitly advertised. The conversation then moved on to ponder whether, if customers were given an environmental delivery option at checkout, would they opt for it? The majority swing was that yes, they possibly would – although whether they are ready to do so yet in any large numbers is another question.

And if this ideology could be extended to the products themselves? That is, if each product description clearly stated how ethical its manufacture was? Well, perhaps a whole new era of retail would cascade into mainstream buying habits: the green customer journey.


3. ‘When we talk about sustainability, we just say, “that’s expensive”. And that’s got to change.’ – Adam Hall, Head of Sustainability, Internet Fusion Group

Representing the retail side of the ethical debate was Adam Hall, a man governing the sustainability practices of 10 brands, including surfing giant Surfdome. He’s also a man who has been involved in removing 95% of plastic from the entire group’s packaging output.

As Adam made clear in his talk, sustainability practices carry a pricing stigma – a stigma which is somewhat fabricated. Having researched the sustainability practices on offer and incorporated them into their business strategy, Internet Fusion have found that it’s not only accessible, but also economically viable.

The green question is breaching headlines and motivating shoppers. Customers are beginning to look towards those retailers who can demonstrate an environmental strategy, and there may come a time in the coming years where retailers who don’t are pushed to the peripherals. As Adam implies, it’s time to give sustainability a long, hard look.


4. ‘There’s going to be a demand for recycled and upcycled clothing owing to millennials and Gen Z. They’re going to be looking at the environmental impact of everything around them.’ – Georgia Barry, Strategy Consultant, Vaimo

The final panel of the day looked at the likely state of delivery in 2024. In support of Adam’s rousing presentation, Georgia Barry referenced the likely switch to environmental practices: notably, the move away from fast fashion.

What this would presumably mean from a delivery standpoint is a doubling down on returns practices: how to incorporate them into a delivery route and how to provide multi-use packaging.

There’s a chance that commerce won’t be a one-way road for much longer: that is, from shop to customer (with the odd return now and again). It may morph into something regenerative; a culture of ethically-conscious passing on as opposed to gradually more unwieldy ‘consumption’. Will that be a feature in five years’ time? It’s certainly one to watch with interest.


5. ‘If you look at the customer retention that results from free returns, suddenly the numbers look a lot more attractive.’ – Olivier Binet, Managing Director, International Markets, InPost

It’s an industry buzz-term which you’ve probably heard a fair few times: free returns don’t exist. And if Georgia is correct in her prediction of an increase in returns, does that simply represent a growing pressure point which is ripe to burst?

According to Olivier Binet, no. Free returns cost the retailer, of course, but there’s another side to this scale which potentially outweighs the cost: customer retention. If a customer feels secure in their purchase, rather than gambling on a product they haven’t seen in the flesh, then they’ll purchase from that retailer. And, if they return the first time, maybe they’ll keep the second time.

Instead of boycotting returns, retailers should be embracing them. And, by extension, so should delivery companies. The post-purchase practices of the common customer are slowly changing, and retailers need to be ready to morph in kind.

And that’s our list! A brief selection garnered from an extensive collection of expert insight.

Our next conference is just around the corner: Customer Connect, on 26th July, which is entirely focussed on shopper behaviour in 2019. To ensure you don’t miss out on another day of networking and knowledge, be sure to register your place today.

Will Gillingham, Content Manager, IMRG

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