Is retail delivering the goods?

As online retail continues its rapid ascent, so too does the use and importance of carrier services to deliver the products that customers have ordered.

E-tail trade association IMRG's research into the sector, conducted in association with supply chain solutions business MetaPack, found that a late surge and sustained Christmas peak meant growth in UK delivery numbers exceeded expectations in 2013.

The study found that 800 million parcels were sent out during the year, representing a 13.3% increase on the previous year. IMRG said that the 2013 Christmas peak started earlier than usual, and was more sustained than in previous years – producing a 20% year-on-year increase for the period October-December.

Andrew Starkey, IMRG's e-logistics director, recently highlighted the importance of providing efficient delivery, saying that a good delivery experience can be "a loyalty driver" for retailers.

Growth in online delivery levels and a more concerted focus on customer fulfilment is just one example of how the retail industry is continually evolving. With constant change on the agenda, technology business accelerator Eccomplished is this year working with RBTE to host the Retail Innovation Theatre, sponsored by Epson, where tech innovators will present their ideas and solutions for driving forward the new tech-focused retail industry.

One session will focus on Delivering the Promise, which takes place on 12 March between 13:00-14:30 allowing RBTE visitors to discover the emerging technologies surrounding the operational aspects of retail, such as the point of delivery and reverse logistics.

Having been selected by RBTE's steering panel of retail thought leaders, the innovators presenting during this session are: Clear Returns, Storpal, EDITD and Scurri.

Below are some details about the companies involved, who will be tackling the issues surrounding the technologies that seek to address the operational challenges of delivering the retail promise.

Clear Returns

About the company: Clear Returns provides award-winning returns intelligence technology that saves retailers significant money.

Our technology helps retailers to reduce returns, boost profits, improve customer experience and retain revenue. Problem products and drivers of returns are automatically alerted, allowing you to take cost saving action fast. Since winning a Digital Technology Award in 2013, and IBM Smart Camp and ICOM’s Big Data Venture Challenge in 2012, the system is currently live with Scotland's largest independent retailer, M&Co.


Speaker: Mark Flanagan, CEO Collaborative Commerce Technologies

Storpal is an integrated supply chain and eCommerce platform reducing retailer operating costs while improving wholesaler margins and credit terms.

By integrating the physical store with an eCommerce and supply chain engine, Storpal allows retailers to offer customers an improved experience with access to unlimited stock while also providing them with the benefits of a full, in-store customer experience. Storpal places the emphasis on in-store experience, whilst simultaneously delivering a full omnichannel platform to retailers.


Speaker: Phil Evans, chief commercial officer

About the company: EDITD runs the world's biggest apparel data warehouse, which global and local retailers use to track the market, align product assortment and trade with competitive intelligence. EDITD's software is the market leader in real-time analytics of pricing, assortment, and deep product metrics for apparel professionals in merchandising, buying, trading and strategy.

Used by some of the world’s leading fashion retailers, like Gap, Asos and Target, across five continents, EDITD helps buyers and merchandisers to make the right trading decisions.


Speaker: Alonna Byrne, sales manager

About the company: Scurri is a delivery management platform designed specifically to address the needs of fast moving eCommerce merchants.  

The award winning software imports customer address and order details from a variety of sources and automatically creates approved shipping labels for carriers. This reduces the processing time required for dispatching shipments significantly. Powerful and customisable shipping rules allow users to pick the appropriate shipping service for their customer and powerful reporting makes shipping simple for merchants.

The other Retail Innovation Theatre sessions set to be covered over the course of the two days at RBTE are, as follows: Physical Retail Reinvented; Customer Centric Commerce; Customer Experience Transformed; Tomorrow's Retail World; Unlocking International Markets.

The Innovation Theatre is free for visitors to attend, although pre-registration is recommended to secure your seat in what will be a packed-out theatre. Find out more information on the RBTE website.

Over the last few weeks, Essential Retail has been profiling each individual challenge set to be addressed at the Innovation Theatre. On Friday, we'll be profiling the final session, Unlocking International Markets.