Following Home Delivery Network’s purchase in March 2010 two big players in UK parcel delivery have come together under one distinctive identity, Yodel. The privately owned Home Delivery Network was a market leader in its own right, while DHL Domestic operated as DHL’s UK B2B and B2C service.
As it now stands, Yodel is the UK’s largest delivery company outside Royal Mail, with a combined £650m turnover, 10,000 staff, a fleet of more than 5,000 vehicles and 120 sites in total, between them achieving a colossal 180 million deliveries per annum.
Yodel amounts to a very impressive business, when you see the details in writing like this. However, the people who really need to be impressed are the ones who will benefit from the service. So, with a marketing programme lined up to communicate the new brand to consumers and the UK B2B market, Yodel is now going all out to carve its name as the best such service in the industry, under the leadership of CEO Jonathan Smith.
Jonathan is enthusiastic about the prospects for Yodel: “The rationale for merging these companies was compelling. Both businesses needed to achieve an economy of scale to create sustainable long-term profits in the current fragmented market in order to invest. We have listened intently to the customers’ needs and in our new form we offer the broadest range of services in the market, with the best of B2B and B2C brought together for the customer’s benefit under one roof. We’re the UK’s only provider offering services of this range.”
Jonathan was Managing Director of DHL Domestic when the two businesses came together. In his career to date, Jonathan has held roles at no fewer than three major parcel delivery companies including CEO at City Link, giving him a depth of experience in this industry.
Jonathan also knows the parcels business as a customer having previously worked in the laundry, recruitment and retail industries, starting his professional life as a management trainee at WH Smith.
A service to impress
A service this size needs to impress with some strong products, and Yodel does not disappoint. Yodel offers a leading range of delivery options suited to the recipients’ varying needs – Estimated Time of Arrival, Avoid School Run service, Timed deliveries, SMS alerts, covering everything from a packet to a sofa, through its UK delivery network.
Not surprisingly, demand for the new organisation’s services has been very high from the word go, and continues to build. Over the peak Christmas period this December, Yodel expects to carry around 1.2m parcels on some days, with its delivery fleet visiting every postcode in the UK.
Talking to Warehouse & Logistics News in November 2010, Jonathan speaks very passionately about Yodel: “Linking to our range of service options and through our different delivery networks, we can ensure we have the correct service at all times to meet the needs of each market.”
The big question: why did they pick the name Yodel? Jonathan says it was a bold choice: “Our intention is to be a consumer brand in parcels which is well respected by businesses. We needed a name that was going to be noticed, thought about and then remembered. And we wanted clients to applaud and embrace the new brand with open arms.”
The name they chose, Yodel, is quite literally about making a noise. But behind the business there’s a strong culture of listening, as Jonathan explains:
“Consumers at home and in business have a loud voice, and are very demanding when it comes to making sure they get the excellent service they rightly deserve. We listen to what they have to say to us at the front door. We are uniquely placed to do that, as our drivers on the doorstep are the link between high street and online retailers and the consumer. We are there to provide more than the vital physical connection between the two parties.”
Jonathan can substantiate his claim: Our experience of delivering household goods, from electrical items to fashion, has enabled us to develop a wealth of knowledge on home shopping and delivering those goods. This awareness of what consumers are buying makes us more than a delivery company. Yes, we can advise our customers on packaging and delivery, but we also have an understanding of consumer trends based on their patterns of buying and, in some instances, returns.”
“Customer choice is at the heart of everything we do. Our entire proposition is customer-oriented, and from that essential starting point we are embarking on building a profitable and sustainable business with double-digit growth to strengthen our market position.”
Yodel sees its future lying in investing for growth and emphasising a service led culture. In terms of new technology, they have implemented new shipping software, hand-held terminals, powerful planning, scheduling and optimisation software, and a new service-oriented management information capability, all of it geared to delivering unrivalled customer services.
A key part of Yodel’s vision is investing in its customer facing team: “Our strategy is to grow our account management as we expand. This will ensure that we continue to have the maximum resources in place to sell the Yodel service propositions and ensure the structure is there to support clients on a long term basis, with strategic account management linked to service orientation.”
When two well-established service companies come together as one new business, there is often apprehension at the outset about the prospect of former customer relationships being lost. Jonathan Smith is extremely confident that in the case of Yodel, any such fears are ill founded: “Our heritage means we are taking the best of the two businesses and building on this, because we recognise the benefits we can bring to our customers.”
Fresh in name and colour
Britain’s newest and brightest delivery operation, Yodel is fresh in name and in colour. It’s instantly recognisable eye-catching vans are green in paintwork and green in performance and environmental impact.
Jonathan Smith and colleagues took delivery of their first new Yodel branded vehicles in October when more than 400 new Mercedes Sprinter vans were introduced into the network, driving out of 12 depots in Southern England and Northern Ireland.
Powering Yodel’s new fleet of vans are the latest low-emission engines, an important factor for Jonathan who also chairs Yodel’s CSR board. To make the vans even more environmentally friendly, they are fitted with the innovative ECO-Start system. The vans’ engines automatically cut out whenever the vehicles are stationary for longer than two seconds, and start again as soon as the driver steps on the clutch.
The vision rolls out
One of the next steps in Yodel’s journey is the opening next year of their ambitious new site at Wednesbury in the West Midlands. Jonathan gives us a taste:
“The new site is at present a blank canvas that will require both internal and external work before it becomes fully operational. Inside, the facility is completely empty, allowing for new, state of the art sortation equipment and storage facilities to be fitted.”
The site, designed to operate 24 hours a day, will start working with one main shift and increase the number of shifts to accommodate additional volume as it builds. Robust, proven sortation equipment will be installed into the facility by a world class, industry-leading provider, to ensure the reliability and consistency of the operation is optimised.
The Yodel journey for the future will go on, Jonathan promises: “We are committed to maximising these levels of investment in our business to support our goals of growth, value and delivering the highest possible standard of service and customer experience.”