1. What is the greatest opportunity for your business?
As customers become more accustomed to internet shopping, retailers are looking to differentiate their home delivery service and significantly improve that part of the customer experience. We’ve invested heavily in technology, people and infrastructure to position ourselves as the delivery company of choice for e-tailers and ensure we give their customers an experience that exceeds their expectations.
2. What is the biggest challenge to your business?
It is a good problem to have, but managing a very rapid rate of growth is always challenging. We created over 1,000 new jobs in 2013 and are part way through a £200 million investment programme to expand our regional depot network and build the biggest parcel hub of its kind in Europe, at Hinckley in the East Midlands.
3. With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently so far?
DPD began focusing on e-commerce as far back as 2005 but with the benefit of hindsight we could have been taking it more seriously even sooner.
4. What is the future of the physical store?
I’m not a retailer but for me the phenomenal growth of e-tail in the UK is an extraordinary success story, which is often overlooked because of what’s happening on the physical high street. We’ve created thousands of new jobs in recent years and of course it isn’t as simple as saying these jobs replace the lost ones on the high street, but the e-tail sector is now a major economic driver in the UK and we should be shouting about that.
I think there will always be physical stores but they will need to continue to innovate in the way they deliver the customer experience and become truly integrated into the multi-channel world. As consumers we like the convenience of internet shopping and we’re not about to give that up, but we still love a great physical shopping experience.
5. What will the high street look like in a decade?
Undoubtedly there will be fewer stores – not just because of e-tailing but also a result of the move to out-of-town and mall locations looking set to continue. Some high streets will sadly disappear altogether but I think those that survive will be characterised by great stores, doing great things and giving consumers a unique experience.
6. Will mobile devices be the primary sales channel in the future?
Mobile will certainly be a major channel. What we like about mobile is the way it connects customers, retailers and the delivery firm throughout the whole process. Our Predict service notifies customers of their one-hour delivery slot by email or text and then they can use their phone or tablet to track our driver en route to their address or send alternative delivery instructions to the driver at any time. It makes the process more transparent and interactive.
7. What other retail business do you admire?
There are loads! The really forward thinking, successful retailers tend to stand out anyway, but I’m always drawn to the real innovators, the companies that are constantly doing new things and doing them well.
8. If you hadn’t been a retailer/service-provider-to-retail what would you have liked to do?
A professional footballer for Stoke City.
9. What marks out of 10 do you give yourself so far for achievement?
I think we are certainly high achievers! We’re the fastest growing delivery company in the UK and now employ over 7,000 people. Every year I start with a list of ideas and things I want to improve and it usually gets longer as the year goes on, but I have a fantastic team that keeps stepping-up and making the ideas come to life.
10. Who would you place in the Top 20 Multi-channel/e-commerce Movers & Shakers?
We work with so many great companies it would be wrong to signal any out individually.