Why do local depots make a difference for courier firms?
Setting up a courier company can be an immensely costly affair. The general start-up costs - in addition to buying or hiring vehicles, securing warehouses, finding staff, covering petrol costs and marketing - mean that it's certainly not something that can be done on a shoestring budget. With all this to factor in, it's understandable why few companies have the cash available to offer numerous hyper-local depots around the country.
In not offering local depots, however, courier firms could be missing out on myriad customer service benefits, as well as the option to expand into a much larger, more competitive enterprise.
Keep customers happy
The single most important factor for new businesses is customer experience. With small customer bases, anyone that had a bad experience - then goes on to shout about it - will make significantly more ripples than it would for a multinational with millions of customers around the world. So, keeping people on side is not only good for brand perception but also repeat business.
Offering a local depot is just one way of keeping people happy, as it means they will not have to travel miles out of their way to collect a parcel for which they weren't in to receive. Whilst couriers can do all they can to catch people at home, work schedules mean this isn't always possible, so consignees need to be able to collect a parcel without embarking on something of a pilgrimage to get it.
Whilst opening small depots across the land is a costly outlay, it could save courier firms much more in the long run. For example, start-ups looking to make the most of their customer experience - and get those who are talking to say all the right things - may offer a redelivery service if the first attempt was unsuccessful. Similarly, any parcels not delivered will need to be returned to the sender after a set period.
If, however, holding depots are some 50 miles from the source, this adds huge outlay on top of all the aforementioned running costs.
Compete with Royal Mail
For all the news surrounding how Royal Mail is run, it's still the go-to name for many Brits when sending parcels, so courier firms should therefore target it as their biggest competition. For businesses to succeed, there's no point trying to be better than small peers, but instead the big industry players.
Where depots are concerned, Royal Mail has the luxury of operating sites up and down the country - many of which have been in operation for generations. Whilst small courier firms would struggle to replicate this market penetration, it should give a prod in the right direction when it comes to opening regional depots. If, for example, a populous city is served by a Royal Mail depot but not that of a courier, targeting the locals will be nigh on impossible.
So whilst it may not be entirely practical to roll out regional depots up and down the land, it may - when considering all the above - be a case of whether businesses can afford not to.
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