Planet Organic launches London next day delivery service

The organic food retailer Planet Organic has entered the food delivery fray in London, by offering a next day delivery service as a new step in its partnership with the on demand delivery specialist company

In a statement issued on the 10th of May, said of the new programme, “Shoppers on now have next-day and one-hour deliveries across Greater London, five days a week. This step up in its delivery service sees Planet Organic become a real alternative to the big online retailers.”

Marisa Leaf, founder and co-CEO of, said, “It’s great to get the next step in our partnership delivered so quickly, which will bring benefits to both businesses and our existing customers and shops. Planet Organic customers now have a first-class delivery service. We will then use our expanded Hubbub footprint to bring London’s best-loved local shops and producers to people right across the capital.”

The delivery company has said that it is preparing its next stage of fundraising as part of its own growth plans. IN 2014-15, raised £2.5 million in a fundraising round led by Octopus Investments in participation with MMC Ventures and the founders of Secret Escapes, Graze, Songkick and Lyst.

Amazon is rumoured to be about to offer its Amazon Fresh service to London soon, so Planet Organic may have got the jump on this type of service. London was the first UK city to get the Prime Now service on the 30th of June 2015. Amazon is close to sealing deals with one of two major online supermarkets and may well be offering an online grocery delivery service soon as well.


Wal-Mart cuts ShippingPass delivery time

US retail giant Wal-Mart is going head to head with Amazon by reducing the delivery time of its ShippingPass membership programme from three days to two. It has also reduced the delivery time for its ShoppingPass free shipping programme from three days to two.

In the US, Amazon Prime operates on a free, two day shipping system – unlike in the UK where next day delivery is on offer as part of the Prime membership deal.

Wal-Mart is looking to undercut its online giant rival, with the charge for the ShippingPass being US $49 a year as against Amazon’s $99 annual fee. Prime does come with a number of extra benefits beyond delivery, to include streaming video, music and where it is available geographically, the Prime Now one and two hour options for same day delivery.

Wal-Mart claims that it can offer more affordable shipping as the company says it has a “unique fulfillment network that includes new large fulfillment centers, stores, distribution centers and our transportation network”.

The ShippingPass scheme is still classed as a pilot programme, so it is not available to all customers across the US. It looks to be a direct strike against Amazon, many of whose customers tend only to use the free delivery scheme with few of the extra benefits that the online giant offers.

With the rise and amazing success of Amazon it really isn’t a surprise that established retail giants are looking for a piece of the action that it seems to have largely created for itself. In the UK, Sainsbury’s has recently done a deal worth £1.4bn to buy up Argos and thereby do the same thing as Wal-Mart is in the US…


DHL Parcel now offering two hour delivery windows in Germany

Online shoppers in five German cities can have their parcels delivered within a two hour time window between 1000 – 2100 if their e-tailer is using DHL Parcel. In 50 cities they have had a choice of one of two time windows since 2014 in the evenings, but this extends the choice to ‘when exactly they would like to have their parcels delivered.’

The new service will be expanded so all 50 cities currently getting the evening choice service will be able to choose any time during the day as well.

According to DHL Parcel this will reach as many as 30 million inhabitants with this new offer, or around 30% of the German population.

“We are setting new standards in the parcel delivery industry with our time window delivery service,” said Achim Dünnwald, CEO of DHL Parcel. “When it comes to parcel delivery, now more than ever before it’s the recipients who are calling the shots. Customers tell us when they are at home and when they would like to receive their items, and we deliver the goods.”

Customers can also select a two-hour delivery window between 10:00 am and 9:00 pm for same-day deliveries.

Dünnwald added: “Our goal is to offer recipients the greatest possible flexibility and make their lives easier with simple and easy parcel delivery.”

Extending the services offered seems to be one of the key areas where delivery companies can compete in the e-commerce delivery market. This offering from DHL Parcel is the latest broadside from one of the giants in the delivery business. It will be interesting to see how its rivals react.


News on Royal Mail pay dispute

Managers of Royal Mail who are part of Unite the Union have begun a ‘work to rule’ policy that commenced on the 4th May as part of their pay dispute. They will begin an overtime ban from 0500 on Wednesday, 18th May.

Brian Scott, Unite officer for Royal Mail’s managers released a statement that said, “We had talks on Tuesday (10 May) with the Royal Mail management, but no progress was made – they appear to have dug their heels in over making an improved pay offer.”

He added: “The work to rule introduced on 4 May has been well supported by Unite members and I expect that the overtime ban will receive similar strong support.

“Many Royal Mail managers do not get paid overtime, but those that do are relied on to ensure that the operation, including the delivery of mail to households and companies, is achieved.

“The industrial action will have an increasingly detrimental impact on deliveries to 27 million homes across the UK.

“Unite is willing to sit down with the company to find a solution, but it needs to acknowledge and recognise the valuable contribution that Unite members make to the success of the business which the current pay offer does not reflect.

“Should the company continue to adopt this negative approach, we cannot rule out full strike action.”

The Unite statement said that the dispute does not include Parcelforce, that is covered by a separate agreement.


Royal Mail introduces new international services

Royal Mail business customers sending parcels abroad can now have their parcels collected free of charge at weekends. In addition, Royal Mail has extended its International Tracked product to customers sending their parcels to Lebanon, Russia and Cyprus.

Businesses using the free weekend collection service can now submit items for delivery up until 1900 Saturday and 1600 on Sunday. The minimum amount of parcels that can be sent is 50, though this can comprise of a number of Royal Mail business products.

Now, with the thre4e added countries, International Tracked parcels can be sent to up to 44 countries.

In addition, Royal Mail has announced that it has enhanced its Track and Trace function on its website. Customers will get direct access to tracking information from the destination country, while customers using the International Tracked and Signed products will also be able to see the name of the person who signed for the parcel.

The national postal operator has just announced it has joined forces with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council to launch a three year programme that is aimed at encouraging UK SMEs to export to the Commonwealth. If Brexit comes about this could well be a very good move for all companies that export…

Speaking of this, Nick Landon, Managing Director Royal Mail Parcels, said, “Helping UK SMEs to grow their business through exporting to international markets is a big priority for us. Our focus has been on making it easier to ship internationally by continuously improving convenience and the range of services available. We will continue to innovate to help our customers realise their growth ambitions.”


Taub of PRC – USPS has serious problems but can recover

The Acting Chair of the US Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Robert G Taub has warned that the US Postal Service (USPS) faced “very serious and real financial problems” – but added that “the good news” is that there is “strength in the system”.

Taub was testifying at the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on postal reform on the 11th May. He said that there are a number of issues that have impeded the postal operator’s efforts to stabilise its financial position. He emphasised however, “The fundamental problem is that the Postal Service cannot currently generate sufficient funds to cover its mandated expenses and also invest in critically deferred capital needs.”

He added, “Despite the very serious and real financial problems, let’s also keep in mind the good news – the strength in the system – and take some degree of hope knowing that this is the foundation that Congress and the Administration can build upon to find solutions.”

The PRC Acting Chairman’s testimony focuses on the following points and arguments:

Losses since 2007 have negatively impacted liquidity, and, as a result, impede the USPS’s ability to make “critical” capital investments in infrastructure

USPS’s inability to make required payments to the retiree health benefit fund has skewed its liabilities in relation to its assets

The historic decline in total mail volume

The increase in revenue from Competitive products is insufficient to offset the future revenue loss from removal of a temporary surcharge

USPS is an “essential” of the US national  infrastructure and a significant driver of the economy

The need to better define the universal service obligation and its cost

The PRC’s upcoming 10-year rate review, which is scheduled to commence December 2016

Taub concluded his presentation by asking, “Where can we look for answers? I would argue that the starting point is to look at ourselves. What do we as a Nation need from a postal and delivery system and what is its cost? What exactly is universal mail service in the United States?”


Doddle extends click and collect service to 2 more shopping centres

Parcel pick up and drop off company Doddle has extended its click and collect service to two more shopping centres – the Bullring in Birmingham and Westfield in London. This follows two other click and collect outlets that have been running at Westfield Stratford City and Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre for several months.

Commenting on the new launches,  Tim Robinson, Doddle’s CEO, said, “The attitude of shopping centres to click and collect has rapidly evolved over the last two years.

“With the click-and-collect market growing by 155% between 2011 and 2015 and accounting for nearly 25% of all online sales, shopping centres’ around the country are increasingly viewing click and collect as an essential service and footfall driver. As a result, we’re finding centres are approaching us to establish partnerships, rather than the other way around.”

Myf Ryan, Chief Marketing Officer, Westfield UK & Europe, added, “We are excited to welcome the new Doddle click-and-collect service to Westfield London. The digital revolution has fundamentally changed how we shop, consumers want a convenient and seamless blend of online and physical shopping and the retail ecosystem needs to respond.”

Doddle’s expansion is meeting customer demand from its online retailer clients who in turn are responding to customer demand. The company seems to be going from strength to strength by allowing e-commerce companies to outsource their click and collect services, and judging by the rate at which it is expanding this seems to be being well received by those Doddle serves.


eBay launches Valet Drop-Off programme

In a development of the successful eBay Valet programme in the US, eBay and FedEx Office are now offering the eBay Valet Drop-Off programme that will be available at more than 1600 FedEx Office stores in the coming months.

Under the system, which is designed to be as simple and easy to use as possible, customers will be able to bring the items they are selling to a FedEx Office centre. A FedEx team member will pack and ship the item/s to an eBay Valet processing centre to be listed, sold and shipped to the buyer. The customer will then receive payment by PayPal once the item is sold. They will also receive updates and notifications throughout the process.

“As a pioneer in peer-to-peer selling, eBay understands that ease and flexibility are critical for consumers looking to sell online. That’s why we’re investing in solutions and offerings that streamline every stage of the selling process – from listing, to shipping, to successful sales,” said Laura Chambers, Vice President of Consumer Selling, eBay.

“Our relationship with FedEx Office allows us to offer even more choices to consumers looking to get the most money for their items with the least amount of work … and the peace of mind it will arrive safely.”

With more than 162 million active buyers around the world, eBay offers significant reach for those looking to sell their goods. This system will widen the choices available to sellers and make it even easier to arrange a sale through the marketplace.

“FedEx Office continues to look for ideas and solutions that help our customers be efficient and save time and money,” said Jeff Heyman, Vice President, Retail & Supply Chain, FedEx Office. “Working with eBay reaffirms our commitment to innovation and we are excited about the possibilities this program provides consumers looking to make money from selling online.”


Deutsche Post DHL – strong Q1 performance

Deutsche Post DHL has reported that its operating profit increased by a large margin in Q1 of 2016 and the CEO, Fran Appel said that the ‘good start to the year’ puts the company firmly on track to achieve its targets in 2016.

EBIT for the Group was up 21.3% on Q1, 2015 at €873 million, though group revenue dropped by 6.1% to €13.9 billion. The company has said that the decline, “primarily reflects the changed recognition of revenue generated from a key customer contract in the Supply Chain division starting in the fourth quarter of 2015. ″ The statement went on, “The main growth drivers – above all the international express business and the dynamic parcel and eCommerce business – remained intact in the first months of the new year.”

Commenting on the results, Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group, said, “We’ve had a good start to the current year. With an EBIT of €873m we have registered the strongest first quarter in our company history. The efforts we made in 2015 to position ourselves for profitable growth in all divisions are paying off. Last year was a year of transition, and we are now firmly on track to achieve our targets for 2016.” stated

Q1 revenue in the Post – e-commerce – Parcel division increased by 2.4% to €2.4 billion. €1.7 billion of this came from the e-commerce – Parcel unit that saw an 8.6% growth.

The Post business unit fell by 1.2% to €2.53 billion. The Group statement explained, “The January 1 increase in letter postage prices almost fully offset the structural decline in volumes within the Mail Communication and Dialogue Marketing segments as well as the working day-effect.”

Operating profit in the PeP division was up 3.3% at €412m, as continued strong growth in the parcel business as well as the letter price increase more than offset the volume decline at Post and the investments the Group has made to expand the eCommerce – Parcel business.

Revenue for the Express division was up 0.3% at €3.25bn – but DPDHL Group said that when adjusted for negative currency effects and lower fuel surcharges, there was actually an increase  of 6.1%. The time-definite international (TDI) business was driving the division’s growth. EBIT for the Express division was up 7.5% at €357m.

Revenue in the Global Forwarding, Freight division fell by 12.2% to €3.3bn. “Apart from the weak market environment,” said the Deutsche Post DHL Group statement, “the main reason for the revenue decline was the division’s more selective market strategy.” Despite revenue drop, the division’s operating profit actually increased significantly, from €17m to €51m.

In the Supply Chain division, revenue fell by 13.9% to €3.4bn. although the EBIT was up from €53m to €127m.


DX Group to buy two Scottish postal service firms

DX Group has agreed to buy two Scottish parcel companies for £3.25 million in cash. It has exchanged contracts to acquire trade and assets of The Legal Post and First Post from First Scottish Group. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of May.

Legal Post is a company that offers a document exchange and postal service in Scotland, and helps customers to deliver their legal documentation effectively and on demand. Meanwhile First Post operates a downstream access mail service in Scotland which is claimed to be a cost effective alternative to Royal Mail’s First and Second Class services.

Between the two companies, according to DX Group, the operations generated combined sales of £5.2 million and an operating profit of £600,000 for the year ended 31 May 2015.

When the deal is completed, DX Group will combine First Post and Legal Post with its existing operations to serve the Group’s customers in Scotland.

DX CEO Petar Cvetkovic said: “We are pleased to announce that we have agreed terms to acquire Legal Post and First Post, both well-established operations that will enhance our customer offering.

“The businesses are wholly complementary to DX’s operations in Scotland and they will be stronger together for both sets of customers, increasing the number of members in a single Scottish exchange network and providing access for Legal Post’s members to DX’s existing members in the UK and Ireland.”

Acquisitions are often seen as quicker routes to accessing a new market or getting better coverage of that market. DX Group will be buying in infrastructure and customers as well as the physical assets of the two companies.