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Huboo addresses delivery challenges due to Coronavirus
Many ecommerce businesses are in uncharted waters right now as they attempt to adjust to rapidly shifting consumer purchase trends while solving the immediate delivery challenges that have been caused by Amazon’s change in attitude towards third-party sellers.
Amazon’s decision to prioritise its own essential items and increase third-party FBA fulfilment lead times by up to four weeks, has created a major headache for thousands of businesses. Few can meet the staffing needs necessary to pivot to running their own logistics operations, while a number of outsourced logistics providers have stopped taking on new clients or closed their doors entirely, either due to their own resourcing issues or problems meeting the UK Government’s social distancing requirements.
Bucking the trend
One business that is continuing to support ecommerce providers of all sizes at their time of need is Huboo, a comparatively new third-party logistics provider which has seen its client base triple in just 12 months since the business received its initial seed investment.
Huboo is led by the team of CEO Martin Bysh, an experienced entrepreneur and, perhaps more surprisingly, a former child prodigy video game developer, and CTO Paul Dodd, a distribution innovation expert that had previously managed a £250 million logistics savings project for P&G. Huboo’s business today employs more than 60 staff and boasts almost 300 UK clients, a number that is continuing to grow rapidly at a time when many of its competitors are struggling to maintain their existing activity levels.
Much of this growth can be attributed to a unique warehousing innovation that, while originally designed to improve efficiency, has had the added, unexpected benefit of enabling social distancing without any requirement for radical systemic changes.
“Our model breaks down each warehouse into micro-warehouses called ‘hubs’. These hubs might house between 1 and 30 clients depending on the client size. Each one is managed by an individual hub manager and supported by innovative technology to ensure they have oversight of every clients’ stock and processes at all times. We pioneered this approach to save the amount of time staff spent travelling across the warehouse every day. Because the hub is self-contained, the hub model is naturally distancing-friendly, so we’ve not had to change any of our operating fundamentals in order to comply with Government guidelines.”
– Martin Bysh, CEO, Huboo
A loyal, healthy workforce
The fundamentals of its approach may not have changed, but Huboo has nevertheless adopted a range of additional measures to keep its workforce healthy. Essentials such as protective masks for staff and access to hand gel (at work and to take home) are complemented by daily health briefings, regular cleaning of all warehouse surfaces and door handles, and even quarantining of inbound goods (to allow on-surface contaminants to expire).
Any team members that show any sign of symptoms, or whose families report similar issues, are instantly quarantined on full pay, while staggered breaks and a one-person limit in kitchen facilities ensure that Huboo maintains social distancing across its entire business at all times. It’s an approach that seems to be paying off; at the time of writing, none of Huboo’s warehouse staff have tested positive for COVID-19, helping to keep its operations running smoothly even as the pandemic accelerates.
But alongside its health and safety measures, Martin believes that Huboo’s recent success can also be explained by the company’s focus on job satisfaction, which has led to a staff churn rate far below the industry’s problematic average.
“We recognised that a happier, more empowered warehouse workforce would lead to benefits across the board. Reduced staff churn means greater operational efficiency as our staff are more experienced and know what they’re doing, but our clients also reap the rewards because they’re served by people that genuinely care about getting goods shipped on time or avoiding product damage. As a result, the end customers also see a better standard of service – so everyone wins.”
– Martin Bysh, CEO, Huboo
Meeting rapid changes in consumer demand
The current crisis has had a profound effect on day-to-day purchasing trends, forcing some ecommerce providers to ‘pivot’ or rethink their sales approach altogether, in turn creating challenges when it comes to getting new stock out into the supply chain.
At Huboo, huge efforts have been made to minimise client onboarding times, in many instances reducing these to as little as 72 hours. The provider has recently taken on new clients across a wide range of different categories – from a health brand struggling to fulfil its growing eBay order book, to a stationary firm limited by its reliance on Amazon to meet the spike in demand for home education products.
“Smaller ecommerce firms’ fulfilment needs have been underserved for some time now, and many are learning the hard way that, when the logistics sector starts to be stretched, their businesses are the first to be deprioritised. It’s good practice for all ecommerce providers to diversify their supply chains and distribution channels, and we’re very proud to be a part of the solution for a growing number of UK ecommerce firms whose products are needed more urgently than ever.”
– Martin Bysh, CEO, Huboo
I have been using Huboo for a few years now and their customer service is great. My items get sent out quick and I don’t have to worry about going to the Post office everyday.
Great service, keep it up