Analysis

DPD and Hermes TDC 2019 pitches show delivery apps are new courier battleground

mobile delivery apps

Executives from Hermes and DPD used MetaPack’s Delivery Conference 2019 to showcase their new consumer-facing delivery apps – but the pitches show a potential conflict over who owns the consumer relationship.

The talks came one after the other: first DPD’s director of marketing Tim Jones, who had stepped in for CEO Dwain McDonald, followed by Hermes’s CEO Martijn de Lange. Both gave an overview of their new consumer-facing applications.

DPD is slightly further along the journey. The company first launched its Your DPD app in 2016 but has been using feedback from analytics platform App Annie to track the growth of the service.

Jones said it achieved 150000 downloads in December, which he claimed was three times the number of Yodel and more than M&S, John Lewis and Selfridges combined. It had 1.2 million active users during the month.

Customers use the app to interact in a number of ways. During December the company recorded 586000 “in-flight responses” from consumers telling them where to leave parcels or other information – which Jones explained would have been half a million failed deliveries otherwise.

The app includes a marketplace with deals from retailers. It also includes a design space which 20,000 customers have joined, allowing them to contribute suggestions. For example, DPD ran a poll asking whether it would help if delivery staff spent more time at the door before leaving.

In March the firm will be adding richer push notifications, which will allow customers to respond to the company via the notification, as well as the ability to ask Siri where a parcel is.

Hermes, by contrast, only launched its app last Friday, explained de Lange. This brings together features such as safe place photos, a chatbot, tracking, the ability to scan or generate a QR code.

The company is also highlighting the ability for senders of parcels to include video messages for the recipient. De Lange said retailers could use this to send personalised messages to customers.

The focus on smartphone applications makes a lot of sense for couriers. It provides a far more immediate way of contacting customers than the likes of email, as customers can enable their desired level of notifications.

Smartphones can offer location and are built to be user-friendly, with connectivity, touch screens and voice commands built in.

However, according to MetaPack CEO Patrick Wall, retailer views of apps may be somewhat more ambivalent.

“There is a legitimate and positive role for carriers to improve connectivity with the consumers,” Wall tells eDelivery.

But he warns that ultimately the guarantor of a delivery service is the retailer and the latter should take “primacy” over the relationship with customers.

He says there is “much greater loyalty to the retailer or brand” and their apps will likely be consumers’ preferred touch-points.

He adds that retailers want to work with a range of carriers and for apps to be useful some type of middleware would be necessary.

“We’d be very interested [in providing that middleware] if there was sufficient support.”

Image credit: DPD