Editor's Comment

Editor’s column: 2015, all change please

Change, as we all know, is said to be as good as a rest and as certain as death and taxes.

Not a great deal to get excited about there. But there’s no escaping it, so maybe it’s better to try to influence outcomes rather than have them foisted upon you. That certainly seems to be the mindset over at Yodel, who have issued a bit of a call-to-arms for change in the way the industry handles periods of exceptionally high volume.

Oh no, you may be thinking, not Black Friday again. Yes, Black Friday. Again.

Yodel was one of the bigger names to get caught out in December in the wake of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping peak; the volume of deliveries triggered that weekend resulted in the carrier having to take bold action to stem the tide of problems bearing down upon it.

Now, Dick Stead – Yodel’s executive chairman – has said something has to change if we want to avoid scenes of further chaos later this year.

Is he right? Should customers start paying a premium for services that not that long ago would have been regarded as such, but are now treated like commodities by retailers competing on price? Is it reasonable to expect the everyday Christmas shopper to be more, well, more reasonable about how much they should pay?

Consumer confidence has long been regarded as a bit of an economic canary in a metaphorical coalmine. When it starts to look a bit peaky, something is most definitely afoot. Rightly or wrongly, there’s no denying that consecutive years of December delivery problems, whether capacity or weather related, have given customers an excuse to doubt the reliability of carrier services.

Have they stopped shopping? No, of course not.

The inexorable rise of click and collect services shows clearly that, for a growing number of shoppers, alternative routes to collecting their purchases have a lot of appeal. Some of those are already in evidence, others are waiting in the wings to emerge when technology makes them viable.

Perhaps, then, we are looking at the shape of the change Dick Stead is calling for, with click and collect becoming the new default for shoppers in a hurry.

After all, in most walks of life you can have things done well, you can have them done quickly, or you can have them done cheaply. But rarely can you have all three at once.

None of these issues look likely to be resolved any time soon. In fact, there’s every likelihood they will continue to resonate throughout 2015.

One of the big things in our diary for 2015 is EDX, the eDelivery Expo which is being held on 25/26 March at the Birmingham NEC. As well as great speakers and interesting topics, you’ll have the chance to meet some of the team from eDelivery and talk about the issues that matter most to you.

I hope to see you there.