/ OI NEWS: Home delivery: an open letter to the industry and our customers

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[Alpkit Shipping #1, 9 kb]Whilst there is no substitute for a decent bricks and mortar outdoor shop and even for the more boutique shops like the "Patagonia Store in Hathersage, the simple truth is that year on year more of you have been buying outdoor stuff over the net. The problem is we have had it easy, up to now there has been a simple way of doing things. Small cheap items got sent in the post, and bigger more expensive items got delivered by a courier. "

Nick Smith from Alpkit ponders the future of delivering your stuff.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/news.php?id=2233

Geoffrey Michaels on 06 Nov 2009 - cnag4.gotadsl.co.uk
In reply to UKC Gear:

Many couriers are at it with regards to "remote regions". But that is out of your hands.

However, it's a decision for you and obviously people should choose the best deal for themselves. If someone charges me more just because of where I live I would advise them to see if they can get the product locally thus supporting local business.
toad - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: If you miss a post office delivery, the depot for collection is usually close by. Private carriers have fewer depots and they are often in out of the way (ie cheap) locations, which means you have to get it redelivered.

I think we do expect too much too quickly and that waiting a week or two is not unreasonable. Providing you have used an appropriate professional delivery service who will make a genuine attempt to deliver the package safely and efficiently - Retailers do have to take responsibility for that. Charge a figure that reflects the cost of delivery, and use proper, reliable delivery agents.
owlart - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Whilst not in the Outdoors market, 95% of our business here is done by mail order. We are continuing to use Royal Mail to ship anything below 2kg and courier for everything else. I think the 'problems' with Royal Mail are mostly hype, with some regions having delays in their deliveries.

Our customers are generally quite happy for us to keep using Royal Mail, especially when we point out that we could courier their 5 item, but it will cost them an additional 6 to do so!

Our experience is that both Courier & Royal Mail are equally trustworthy, and both seem to delivery 98% of items sucessfully. One or two items do go astray over a year, but this happens whoever you use. We have a seperate insurance policy to cover us should valuable items get lost/damaged.
In reply to UKC Gear: Nick, I'm not clear; why will you no longer be able to use Royal Mail? When last I looked they were still delivering.
Morgan Woods - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

good article with some interesting points however a bit of proofreading might help:

"nip to get some milk" might need an "out" in there
"companies having to except!!?"
plus some missing "?"

but like i said very timely and relevant since most of us are regularly buying stuff off the net.
Jaffacake - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

A choice at checkout? Royal mail and wait x amount of time, or pay extra for next day.

In most cases I'd rather have stuff delivered by royal mail, primarily because the depot is round the corner while couriers are invariably miles away.

It's not so bad at our new address, but as for our old one we'd have to collect 90% of parcels (it was a different entrance, down a different alley to deliver parcels, so most people just put a slip through the letter box and didn't bother trying. Royal mail were usually the only ones who bothered, but I guess they had to walk up the second alley anyway). Because of the difficulties of collecting from depots other than royal mail we used to seek suppliers that sent by royal mail rather than courier.

owlart - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Jaffacake:
> (In reply to UKC Gear)
>
> A choice at checkout? Royal mail and wait x amount of time, or pay extra for next day.

Quite a few online retailers allow you to choose your delivery method. If you can incorporate it into your website, and your order processing, then that'sa good idea. Customers could choose "Royal Mail (free, 5-7 days)", or "Courier (6.50, next day)" or however you wanted to do it. Of course, it's quitea bit of work to incorporate all the various changes, rules and exceptions into the online system and hence has a cost associated with making that change too.
Simon Caldwell - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to toad:
> If you miss a post office delivery, the depot for collection is usually close by

Ours is close by. They recently changed their opening hours such that in order to collect anything, I need to take time off work. The other thing they've taken to doing is 'helpfully' leaving parcels at the local post office instead, which gives me a 3 hour slot on Saturday morning as the only option. So I now get everything delivered to my work address instead.

Why they can't leave stuff with my neighbours is beyond me. They always used to, and private couriers still manage it. The only times in recent years that they've not taken parcels to the depot/PO, they've decided to leave it in the drive round the side of the house instead, where they're open to the elements.

To Alpkit:
The post office managers seem to be trying their best to put themselves out of business, and are being ably assisted by the unions. But until they succeed, I don't see any problem with continuing to use them, as you say in the article, the delays are mostly nowhere near as bad as the media make out.
In reply to UKC Gear: People might be interested that in Finland the Finnish post office simply does not deliver parcels to you. Their promise seems to be "we will get your parcel to a designated spot somewhere in the vicinity of where you live". Then they deliver a card (in the post van) to your house telling you they've got your parcel to a designated spot somewhere in the vicinity of where you live. That bit always seemed a bit bonkers to me. They use a national chain of newsagents a bit like sub post offices, so it's a few kms drive to get to my closest one to pick up parcels. Presumably the more rural you are, the further away the nearest one would be.

There is also a courier firm that uses a chain of small supermarkets as their delivery points - fortunately that is just up the road. Pretty much only DHL and the like will bring it to your door.
Panda :o) - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Interesting one, however it's guaranteed that one solution that would actually sort out the problems is the one that we are guaranteed not to have.

We just need ONE big company that delivers all parcels. The economies of scale would mean that they could afford local depots all across the country open 7-11. Unfortunately successive Government's have had the bright idea that competition and lots of companies is good, when it's the worst possible thing for customer service in this area.

Therefore the next best solution must be to give customers the option of a range of couriers; i.e. Royal Mail plus 2-3 other specified others. This gives people the chance to select the best company for them, based on past experience and personal circumstance. Not all courier companies are equally good in all parts of the UK and all have slightly different operating procedures and hence advantages and disadvantage.

Personally I'll generally be happy to pay EXTRA for Royal Mail as the Post Office is 200 metres from my house.
Simon Caldwell - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Panda :o):
> Unfortunately successive Government's have had the bright idea that competition and lots of companies is good

As with so many things, successive governments don't have much choice any more. Have a google for EU directive 97/67/EC...
Ewan Russell - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:
id stick with royal mail.
peterdevlin - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:
Pls use the transmogrifieing duplicator to ship me a transmogrifieing duplicator ;-)

Joris.Roulleau - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:
I like Royal Mail. If they're on strike, then that's fine. I'll wait. If I needed an item for the next day or two and can't have it: my mistake, I should have planned ahead!
Other services such as Parcel Force really p*** me off. The other day I went to pick up a parcel delivered at the Post Office by Parcel force because I was not at home: the Post Office charged me 1 for that, on behalf of Parcel force they said.
I like to go to the post office and pick up my parcel when I wnat if I'm not home for the delivery. Royal Mail is cheap and has a good range of option. It's also got a more profund social and societal impact, root, use etc. than any other business and I like to support them.

I also like the idea of collection points scattered around town. La Redoute have been doing that for years back in France: you could choose to get your parcel delivered at your local registered newsagent or corner shop. It's brilliant.
Joris.Roulleau - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Toreador:
Sorry it's off topic, but while I agree, the UK didn't wait for the EU or the Lisbon treatee or the one before to introduce extreme capitalist competition concepts to the tube, train, postal service etc.
The previous remark is most pertinent.
r0b - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

A network of collection points has to be the answer surely. I would hazard a guess that the demographic who orders most stuff online are also most likely to have no-one at home during the day. Imagine how much easier it would be if you got an email when your parcel had arrived at the collection point, which was at a place like your local supermarket and so was open until 10pm or whatever.
Reidy - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: I'm happy to wait 2 weeks if it means lower costs,
though the option of next day delivery for an additional cost is useful
Simon Caldwell - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Joris.Roulleau:
One thing that the botched de-regulation (not really privatisation) of the rail and post services are not, is "extreme capitalist"! They're still (semi) controlled by the State and offer the worst of both worlds.

Another thing they have in common is that both were brought about due to EU regulations. For the railways, see 91/440/EEC.
Simon Caldwell - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Joris.Roulleau:
> Royal Mail is cheap and has a good range of option

Not always. I had to return something to Rock & Run. The cost of their shipping it to me (via private courier) was 3.50. Royal Mail charged me just under 9.
ads.ukclimbing.com
AlH - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:'Tough Choice number 1. Do we charge some Scottish people more.' I actually don't mind paying a little more for a decent service where they are up front about the costs (unlike Boots Electric who took 2 months to get my cooker to me, during which time I learnt far more about the 3 courier companies they use to get 1 item from S. England to Ft William than their call centre staff will ever know..... or MandM sports whose front webpage boasts 'Free UK Mainland Delivery' but is contradicted in the small print by stating they will make extra charges to the Highlsnds).
Al
iceaxejuggler - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

As already mentioned, the best option seems to be to offer a choice when people order. That's what say Amazon do (who presumably know a bit about this online business sort of thing). If people want to guarantee something coming sooner, then they can pay for courier delivery.
Alpnick - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to all:


On Monday we are going to add a free next day trial for unders over 20 but after many of the comments on here. We are going to stick with Royal Mail as the default standard and give people the option for a quicker delivery to certain parts of the country.

If anyone has got any other ideas or the "Gold Standard" we should be aiming for then let us know.

Cheers

Nick
ginger_lord - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

I accept as standard stuff being delivered within 3-7 business days at standard RM rates, thats hows it's been for years round here at least.

If it's going to take more than 7 business days, then I'd expect it to be vastly reduced price or free.

Perfectly reasonable to also charge extra to get it to you sooner than 3 days.

However Alpkit do their delivery is still the best I have found of any retailer to date. Bought 4 things off them (in size from a Gamma to a Phud) and all have turned up the next day which surprises me every time.
jimtitt - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:
As usual in the U.K. you are being ripped off by all and sundry!
I ship all over the world and there is nothing lighweight about my products.
Nationally (inside Germany) I pay 3.59 for a medium (longest + shortest side less than 50cm)parcel up to 25kg with 500 insurance, 3 delivery attempts and return if undelivered.
To the rest of Europe including anywhere in the U.K. its 8.89 or for a bigger parcel (still 25kg) it is 11.20. Same conditions.
Larger shipments run at about 50p per kilo plus customs clearance if required.

Jim
morticiaskeeper - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Alpkit deliveries ALWAYS arrive next day for me, I just make sure that SWMBO will be in before I order. Our normal postie knows us well enough to get the delivery done, it's only when relief staff do the round that we have problems.

Our local sorting office is quite close to work, I used to be able to pop home to pickup a failed delivery card and then collect the package later. Now our sorting office has started closing at 13:00. Our normal post arrives at 13:30!! Remember when first class was at 08:00 and second class came at 12:30?

Being a delivery driver myself, all the local parcel drivers know to drop it at work if SWMBO is out.

I think the problem that Alpkit & co have is that the media coverage of the strikes is so alarmist that people don't think they have a chance, so they don't order. If the troubles, real or perceived, continue, it would be wise to offer an alternative, if only to allay the fears of the mass media believers.
HATTSTER on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Customers who miss a royal mail delivery can ring the local sorting office up and arange a free redilvery or go online to the royal mail site and request redelivery there too. If they ring the delivery office they can have it redeliverd to their local post office free off charge aswell. Im a postie who delivers parcels and do this on a regular basis. As for the point that we wont leave parcels with nieghbours, ive never came across this. The only time we cant leave with nieghbours is if its a special delivery (has to be accepted by someone at the home address) all others are fine.
We will keep your parcel at the sorting office for 28 days before we return it to the sender, but only 1 week for special delivery items.
Hope this helps if i can give you any more info please ask..regards Hatts
Ron Walker - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Donald M:
> (In reply to UKC Gear)
>
> Many couriers are at it with regards to "remote regions". But that is out of your hands.

You can say that again....

I prefer the Royal Mail as apart from the price they provide a more personal, honest, reliable and quicker service most some of the big international and national carriers.
I've often received standard parcels the following day via the GPO. On the other hand I've been charged a huge amount for 'Highlands and Islands' delivery service by some of the other big named couriers only to spend several weeks chasing around looking for the man in the van that the parcel has been passed to.
When you do eventually track it down to the Inverness depot it is invariably damaged or has been resealed with missing items or left outside in the rain for several weeks with a forged signature... :-(
Definitely the GPO for me...
JIB - on 06 Nov 2009
In reply to Ron Walker: Another vote for the Post Office.

I'm not surprised that there's been a drop in confidence caused by the media - allegedly - I'm just surprised that so many intelligent people have been taken in by it! You know the basic premises:- manufacture a drop in demand to show militant left-wing Trotskyist radical postal workers that their unreasonable demands to maintain their terms and conditions of employment are unrealistic...then employ non-unionised staff to break the strike. When there is no industry left to speak of, after the private companies have hived off what is profitable and left the rest, the consumer will again recognise that they've lost out.

I'm certain that the staff at Alpkit will have seen through this unconvincing media charade easily...or do they really want to provide their customers with a more expensive and poorer service by switching to providers other than Royal Mail?
Jasonic - on 07 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Royal Mail- no problems despite the hype.
Scarab - on 07 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

Man I love alpkits style, you guys are awesome.

As other have said, royal mail !!!

Cheap, reliable, if missed delivery pickup close


And x2 on option being nice, such as next day delivery
pebbles - on 07 Nov 2009
In reply to JIB: I hate courier services. If the royal mail try to deliver and you ar not in, all you have to do is go to your local sorting office. If AcmeDelivery.com try to deliver and you are not in you can end up trogging over half the county to pick up your mail - one company delivering to york has its nearest depot in hull, over an hours drive away.
Simon Caldwell - on 07 Nov 2009
In reply to pebbles:
> all you have to do is go to your local sorting office

which is no longer open in the evenings, and opens too late in the morning to get there before work - which means going on Saturday morning, when I should be climbing!
HATTSTER on 07 Nov 2009
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to pebbles)
> [...]
>
> which is no longer open in the evenings, and opens too late in the morning to get there before work - which means going on Saturday morning, when I should be climbing!

Hi..get them to redeliver on the saturday, its no problem what day you want it redeliverd, Its funny though how people order things then moan about having to be in to recieve them, we do get that alot, maybe get it deliverd to a relative? work or even a friends house if you know you arent going to be in around the estimated delivery time.Or have it deliverd to your local post office or the nearest one to your work then pickup at dinner time. theres quite a few options you can use.
John Lisle - on 08 Nov 2009
In reply to Alpnick:

Good thread.

To throw in my tuppence on your questions:

1. Should we charge Scottish people more?
It's tempting to say "yes, of course - as a matter of principle". I think you should charge as close to *actual* cost as possible for transport. I know it's irrational but I hate shops padding their margin on shipping. So, if you're using a flat rate, charge the same; if you're using a company that costs more for remote areas, differentiate.
2. Pay more for small stuff?
If you have a cost-effective way of sending small stuff, keep using it. If you don't, then perhaps there starts to be changes in SKUs between internet and shops...
3. Wait up to 28 days?
I think next day is over-rated and rarely needed. Why not have it as a premium option? 1-2 weeks is usually fine for climbing gear.
4. Who pays redelivery charges?
The customer. Why should the supplier? The customer can always choose to have it delivered to work, or old Mrs Jones next door or whatever.

Overall, not a huge issue - Royal Mail is fine. Just make sure it's fairly simple, the price is clear up front (so people can make a decision before filling in checkout forms) and you don't take the micky on the charges.

J
Simon Caldwell - on 08 Nov 2009
In reply to HATTSTER:
Saturday deliveries are no good, I work for 5 days a week so I can head for the hills at weekends!
I now have everything delivered to work, unless I know it's being delivered by one of the courier companies which as an office locally - they all stay open in the evenings still.
andybenham - on 09 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Dear Alpkit,
Please ignore the media hype and continue using the Post Office. We all should keep using the post office. Like the NHS, we like to have a moan about it but BOY will we miss it when it's gone.

I am happy (well not HAPPY...) to wait a week. I would, for the record, pay significatnly more for my royal mail postage if it came to a choice between that and only having private couriers. I live in Cornwall, near the end, and couriers, if they miss me at home, return the goods to bloody
Plymouth or Exeter - 1.5 hours up the road. Might as well drive up to Exeter and the the shopping myself. Luckily I have an undertanding employer so now it all comes to work.
Ian McNeill - on 09 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear:

For us out on the west of Wales, Amazon Prime works well as does iPhone redLaser App(check it out 's saved) the prime fee more than pays for its self over the year and we shop with them ... simple.. Shirley if Amazon can do it automated well why cant others with a personal touch do it better?

They don't seem to have a problem getting items to me before 1pm the next day ...

To put time and travel costs into perspective e are about 1 1/2 hours from Bangor, Llandudno, a bit further to Shrewsbury and a bit less to Aberystwyth....

There has to be a better way of doing things across the board - if there were an outdoor shop offering a Prime service I might just buy in to it so long as goods were in stock ! that is ... whos going to do it ??? anyone capable ?? other than Amazon Prime ?
ghisino - on 09 Nov 2009
In reply to Joris.Roulleau:
> I also like the idea of collection points scattered around town. La Redoute have been doing that for years back in France: you could choose to get your parcel delivered at your local registered newsagent or corner shop. It's brilliant.


living in france at the moment i second that.
I had a decathlon tent shipped with that system last week, probably the most practical shipping i've ever had since
a)the pickup point (a laundry) was in between job and home.
b)i didn't experienced the small queue that's usual in post offices here.

private couriers can sometimes be a real pain in the ass, their operation is much more suited for bussiness-to-bussines shipping, than for bussiness-to-private customer.
I recently had a small book shipped with DHL and i needed a week of emails to have them understand that they could let the building's guardian sign for me and just drop the book in my letter box.
The mailman would have taken the risk of using his common sense, dropping the book in the box at his first try...
Fume Troll on 09 Nov 2009
In reply to UKC Gear: Interesting article. My thoughts:

I can wait for stuff to be delivered. I've always been blown away by Alpkit's ability to get stuff to me really fast, but have never really needed it to be that quick. I'd be happy to see slow or fast options charged for appropriately. I don't find next day to be the norm yet at all. Some online retailers are appallingly slow. Amazon for example.

Getting the "come and pick it up" card is very frustrating. For me this means at best 30 minutes for a 24 odd mile round trip, at worst two hours to drive into and across town and back, potentially costing me more than the item in the parcel. Most couriers will leave stuff for me and sign on my behalf, but not all, and they probably shouldn't be doing it (even though I want them to). Perhaps at the checkout step it would be possible to leave details of a neighbour or two who could look after the package?

Timed deliveries are IMHO worse, because then you hang about waiting only to get a call at another unrelated time from a guy in a van asking where you are.

In Scotland we're already used to getting charged more for delivery (by some), and I'm only in Aberdeenshire! However when you compound that by minimum delivery charges which are already high for a small items it becomes prohibitive.
I'd say that the answer to "should we even it out" will be no, because most people don't live in the remote areas listed, so unless the British people are more egalitarian than I've given them credit for, the average vote will be no!

Cheers,

FT.

ads.ukclimbing.com
In reply to UKC Gear:

Royal Mail every time.

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