As the UK’s biggest pre-8am delivery network, ByBox is best known for its market-leading locker-based field support services.
Founded in 2000, ByBox revolutionised distribution in the field services sector by delivering parts and tools overnight to its locker network for engineers to pick up as they start work. ByBox’s business locker network now offers Pick Up and Drop Off (PUDO) and drop boxes in 1,800 locations nationwide.
Innovation is central to ByBox’s continued success, and this innovative streak can be seen throughout the business. From locker design through to its award winning systems ByBox seeks to be at the forefront of technical development in the logistics sphere. ByBox’s in-house Thinventory™ supply chain tracking technology offers complete visibility in real time, allowing businesses to track parts and tools from warehouse to locker and collection by engineer.
But it doesn’t stop there. Keen to provide the best services possible to its customers, ByBox uses its network of Forward Stock Locations to offer same day delivery through its strategic holding of stock. ByBox is also the champion of smart logistics, a service whereby its Thinventory™ offering is used in conjunction with the business’ qualified engineers to swap and replace parts. This is all part of its aim to reduce costs spent on emergency jobs.
Mark Garritt, Managing Director of ByBox Field Support Ltd., spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Mark, what does your job as MD of ByBox involve from day to day?
It’s a balance of trying to make sure I’m supporting the team, keeping an eye on key trackers, making sure we’re communicating with our customers and looking ahead and delivering against a plan.
WLN – Who else is in the senior management team besides you?
I’ve never run a £70m business (hopefully soon to be £100m) and neither have my management team. I’ve tried employing ‘professionals’ on a number of occasions with near disastrous results. You very quickly lose the spark that makes you special, things take an age to come to fruition and people forget that customers pay the wages.
We’re blessed with a great bunch of dedicated staff that are all very different but with a mutual trust and respect that is a common thread between us.
If I’m permitted to be self-indulgent and name a few of our management super heroes that were here at the start of the Field Service journey 11 years ago we’ve got Richard Cross, our new business sales director, Andy Crees, Operations Director (a perfect example of a self-starter) and Claudine Mosseri our Group Operations Director. Claud and I have worked together for years and, like Andy, her rise is meteoric and well deserved.
WLN – Who set up ByBox, and are they still involved?
Stuart Miller started ByBox and Dan Turner, who founded a similar business and then combined it with ByBox, are our founders. Steve Huxter, Stuart’s original business partner, also joins us when we need help and focus and is always a welcome addition.
Stuart and Dan are still very much involved; we meet every Friday morning and Stuart and I speak about something almost daily.
Stuart’s focus is on developing people and sees the best in everyone. A lot of his personal time is dedicated to helping and fostering talent, which he gets a big buzz out of doing. This enthusiasm is infectious and why I threw my lot in with him 11 years ago.
WLN – How big is ByBox today?
We will turnover £70m this year; the growth has been quite incredible. I’d like to say we grew in the early days through bright thinking and strategy but it was more fear of failure and an obsession with our customers. We gave them what they needed and then shared this knowledge across the business.
We’ve also acquired a number of companies along the way which has helped us with market share and expanding our expertise.
WLN – Fundamental question: how do your lockers compare with other people’s?
To think about ByBox as just a locker company is missing the point; it’s actually about the technology that underpins everything. Our Field Service offering reduces the repair loop for the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to 72 hours; our Network customers can transact with their customers far more effectively, this latter offering being headed up by Dan.
All in all, a locker is a bit of tin. Without the infrastructure and technology to back it up they are pretty much an expensive ornament.
WLN – How would you sum up ByBox’s service proposition to warehousing and logistics professionals? What sets you apart from other companies?
Put simply it is our technology, the high service levels that come with it and the fact that everything we do is designed to improve our customer’s efficiency and save them millions every year.
This is achieved by, in field service, offering an end to end solution, providing the logistics platform and technology to enable a customer to manage their supply chain or allowing us to undertake each component part. We also integrate with key suppliers which removes the need to hold and store stock, deliver such stock to technicians through the locker network, carry out some form of intervention with our customer’s customer and then dynamically route the part to one of our repair centres and put back into good stock; all within 72 hours.
WLN – Mark, we last interviewed you five years ago. What’s changed since then?
Our technical service offering has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to an investment of £2m into expanding our UK network. We’ve also made quite a few acquisitions in the past few years. In 2013 we acquired echo, which has been revolutionary in expanding our smart logistics service, and we also acquired Business Direct, giving ByBox the largest network of drop boxes in the country.
WLN – Concentrating on the UK, how fast is your field support locker network growing?
We’ve opened up a further 133 sites in the last twelve months, taking us to around 1,800 locations. We have also been looking at the changing demographics of our customers and relocating some lockers to keep us within a few miles of an engineer’s home address or their key customers’.
WLN – Who are your major UK customers in field services?
If you think of any major player in the IT, Telco, Reprographics or Media sectors then you’ll have named one of our key customers.
WLN – What kinds of places are the field service support lockers in – petrol forecourts etc?
The majority of our B2B lockers are located in petrol stations and supermarket car parks. This is because there are very strict requirements that a site has to be able to match for us to locate a locker there. As a 24/7 business, all hours access is essential. Another requirement is having CCTV that covers the locker area for the safety of both the engineers and our delivery drivers. This safety is very important to us as a business.
WLN – How does the field support side work?
We have a central hub in Coventry which is complemented by a national network of distribution centres.
We either collect from our customers late in the afternoon (including Holland, Belgium and Germany) or pick their stock from our warehouse up until 11pm, seven days per week. These deliveries are then distributed through a typical hub and spoke network with 95% being delivered pre 6am. Our service level agreement is pre 8am and, over 11 years, 99.69% of deliveries have achieved this.
WLN – Do you carry out the transport from the hub to the distribution centres and onto the lockers yourselves?
Yes we do. We work with a dedicated team of contractors who again have been with us since the start of ByBox.
WLN – How many business deliveries on average do you move every 24 hours in the UK?
It currently stands at 33,000 a day.
WLN – Do you publish customer case studies about your field services operations?
Yes. Our work often comes through references and recommendations, which I think reflects the quality of our service.
WLN – Do you offer field support services in other countries?
We currently have a full network in France and the Benelux which offers all the USPs we have in the UK: pre-8am delivery, bullet-proof track and trace and, of course, Thinventory™.
WLN – Do you supply ‘click and collect’ lockers for retailers and consumers in other countries?
Yes, we offer solutions in a number of countries to both retailers and other postal companies. To take one example we have lockers in New Zealand that are owned and run by New Zealand Post.
WLN – Do you own these overseas operations, or do you work with partners?
We own our operations in France and partner in the Benelux.
WLN – Can you tell us in more detail about your Thinventory™ supply chain tracking technology?
Thinventory™ is our pride and joy. It was fully developed in-house and is an award winning IT system which offers users a complete supply chain management portal in real time. Asset tracking and a cradle-to-grave supply chain service (both delivery and returns) is vital to our customers and this is exactly what Thinventory™ offers. The reporting which is possible through Thinventory™ has enabled our customers to not only track stock but significantly reduce lost stock, improving their profit. These benefits are amplified when customers use our Blackstripe® labels which auto-route returns for repair, recycling or stock. In essence, we allow our customers to make the most informed decisions possible.
WLN – Have you thought about offering it as a stand-alone package to other businesses that need to track their deliveries in fine detail?
Yes, we have been approached by some of our OEM clients and global integrators. We’re in the process of packaging it as a standalone offering.
WLN – What do you see as the biggest external factors currently driving demand for your services?
The markets are changing at a colossal rate as technology develops and becomes cheaper. We don’t see conventional ‘break fix’ engineers featuring in any big way in five years; we’re convinced the market will need an in-day smart logistics platform. We’re well on the way to building such a product; it will use the locker network to get as close as possible to the final destination and the technicians to execute the final mile.
WLN – Finally, where do you see ByBox going from here? Any plans for further acquisitions or investments?
Firstly we are going to capitalise on our position as the UK’s market leader in Field Services. However, alongside this, we’re planning on developing our international offering through continued investment in France and also working on a partner model that will help us to go global.
Tel: 0844 800 5219