Yodel plans for record parcel volumes

Yodel is preparing for the biggest industry peak in history, as analysts predict internet shopping on Black Fridaywill see consumer spending hit £1.07 billion, a 32% rise on the same day last year which saw Yodel forced to suspend collections for a couple of days.

The company has spent the last ten months preparing for this year’s Christmas peak and has invested heavily in its operations throughout the year to improve efficiency and capacity in its network.

Yodel have worked with retail clients to agree in advance the number of parcels it will accept into its network each day and is also placing limits on its next day delivery capacity. This peak also sees the introduction of new trailer loading plans for clients, to ensure that parcels are clearly segregated by service type at point of source, to increase efficiency at sort.

Dick Stead, Yodel’s executive chairman, said; “We want this year’s festive peak to go smoothly and we’re working incredibly hard to deliver for our clients and for the consumers waiting for their internet shopping. There is finite capacity in the industry, and our network, and so we are firmly agreeing volumes with retailers in advance, so we only receive what we’re equipped to deliver”.

Yodel’s clients will receive daily performance updates and advance weather forecasts, so they can inform their customers of delivery times and forewarn of any possible issues at point of order. Retailers are also being encouraged to provide accurate customer contact data, so that Yodel can send proactive alerts to keep consumers up to date on the progress of their order.

Investment of £20 million in 2015 has seen Yodel launch a brand new website with user friendly parcel tracking, as well as invest in mechanical handling, sorting equipment, training and fleet to improve efficiency.

For peak, the company is bringing 200 additional HGVs and 500 additional trailers into its transport operation to move parcels from retailers’ warehouses to its central sorts, and then onto its local service centres for onward delivery. Recruitment of 7,000 additional people to assist in the peak season is also ongoing, with a particular focus on final mile drivers and couriers.

The carrier has also expanded its estate, acquiring seven new permanent ‘super’ service centres, which have boosted Yodel’s final mile capacity by around 22 per cent, as well as opening two temporary satellite service centres and building temporary extensions to 18 existing sites for peak.

Other measures introduced for peak 2015 include:
• appointment of a dedicated peak programme director, to coordinate seasonal plans
• delivery increased to seven days a week as standard
• customer services available 24/7 via webchat and extended hours on social media, telephone, SMS and email
• a central peak control tower in Wednesbury, West Midlands to manage trailer movements and operations
• rock salt, grit, snow shovels, ice melt, de-icer, scrapers, snow ploughs and gritting machines at all sites to keep yards clear and vehicles on the road should snow strike

Yodel’s own research has shown that up to four times the number of consumers expect to take part in the Black Friday promotions this year compared to last and that three quarters of shoppers plan to buy at least half their presents online. Earlier this year the carrier was calling for retailers to consider how they marketed their promotions and the delivery options offered.

Last year’s 24 hour flash sales caused tidal waves of parcels as overloaded trailers arrived each day over the cyber weekend. Simply by spreading the duration of the sales and offering a wider range of delivery options, rather than using 24 hour delivery as the default service for all orders, retailers can instantly help to create more capacity in the parcel industry and enable us to offer a consistent, high standard and cost effective service during peak periods,” explained Dick.

This year we’ve engaged early with retailers’ marketing departments, as well as their operational teams. With 2015 due to see even greater volumes than last year, there is no doubt that we as an industry, are facing a big challenge, but we’ve been working closely with retailers and our plans are in place to process record volumes of parcels this year”.

We’ve seen many couriers struggle over the past few years including City Link going bust last Christmas. This year we’ll be watching with interest to see if the predicted 32% rise in sales impacts other couriers and if Yodel’s plans for throttling incoming parcels to agreed levels keeps their operations running smoothly.