Now is the time for retailers to tackle their addressing issues

Op-ed

E-commerce has sky-rocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people than ever now relying heavily on home deliveries. From March to June, Hermes was handling volumes that would typically be seen during Christmas peaks – up to 3 million parcels a day.

UK street addresses, introduced hundreds of years ago, were never designed for the demands of e-commerce in 2020. Pins can drop in the centre of buildings, and couriers can sometimes lose time trying to find the correct entrance. Postcodes cover large areas, particularly in rural communities, and people living in newly built developments can disappear off the grid altogether.

The pressures of increased demand and the need for enhanced safety and contact-free deliveries at this time mean that it’s more important than ever for couriers to be able to find precise locations, even faster and put the customer in control of where they’d like their parcel to be delivered.

No-contact deliveries have radically changed how businesses operate their last-mile logistics operations, and knowing exactly where to leave a delivery is crucial to efficiency and customer satisfaction. The addressing dilemma has become increasingly important for customer satisfaction given that 74 per cent of UK residents say that services and visitors struggle to find them according to a 2018 study.

Using the Hermes app, customers can add their what3words address to their profile.

Record numbers of online orders are predicted for Christmas, and an increased reliance on deliveries is expected to continue well into next year. It is more important than ever for businesses to actively seek the improvement of their delivery service. Investment in technology goes hand in hand with this scale of growth for any organisation whose goal is to prioritise customer experience.

One way in which one of the UK’s largest consumer delivery companies, Hermes, has been able to adapt during the pandemic is through partnering with what3words to make its deliveries even more precise. Available on the Hermes app for every delivery from each of the 80% of UK’s retailers that Hermes works with, the solution that what3words offers divides the world into a grid of 3 metre squares and gives each square a unique combination of three words: a what3words address.

With this simple way to communicate precise locations, people can say exactly where they’d like their goods delivered. Spotting the opportunity, many retailers have added what3words address fields to their checkout pages since March – a more than 1,000% increase in adoption in the UK. The Hermes app has now had more than 3 million downloads since April as more people are looking for contact-free delivery options to stay safe at home.

As it stands, tomorrow’s technologies will also face the challenges of addresses. With automated warehouses and drone deliveries in sight, we need addresses to be much more accurate, reliable and easy to use.

In the last few years, there have been huge technological advances in the fields of navigation and mapping, but addressing has largely been overlooked. The impact of Covid-19 shook almost every industry, but with disruption comes the opportunity to embrace new approaches and innovation.

Clare Jones, CCO at what3words, and Chris Ashworth, CIO at Hermes UK

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