State of UK shipping in 2016

I have been doing some research on the state of shipping in the UK as I believe that it is a critical success factor to any online business across the world to be successful. Of course, the products you sell are key, but as you will encounter a lot of competition you will need to differentiate yourselves, and matching your customers’ expectation in terms of delivery will be key to your growth.

I have been studying 27 key UK retailers and created a model to evaluate their delivery proposition. To my suprise, House of Fraser came on top just above Amazon. But then upon reflexion, it is not that surprising. HOF have got a huge network of shops, which Amazon haven’t got, as well as, offering additional click and collect networks (Doodle, Collect+, etc). This is where I believe multichannel have the edge on pure players. Make no mistake, Amazon have recognised this strength and expanding their click and collect partnerships (latest in date is Morrisons).

Temando published a very intersting research. Here are some nuggets and interesting insights:

  • 60% of consumers abandon their shopping bag because delivery costs are too high
  • 42% of consumers abandon their shopping bag because delivery information come too late in the journey
  • 37% of consumers abandon their shopping bag because free shipping wasn’t offered
  • 27% of consumers abandon their shopping bag because shipping was too slow

Costs are always an issue but speed is a growing requirement. Over a quarter of respondents mentioned that they expect a fast and reliable delivery service. This is where Amazon have the edge. Always trying to innovate (1 hour delivery, drone delivery). Go back to your supplier and negotiate for a faster service.

Interestingly, on average 40% of retailers charge the customers the exact amount it cost them and only 2% of average make some extra margins. I actually know that some retailers will make a loss in order to optimise their conversion rate. However, 30% of retailers are concerned by the constant increase in prices from the couriers.

Another fact that is becoming key is that 78% of consumers expect their delivery to be made on the same day. Based on my research only 20% of retailers offered that service. That sounds like an opportunity!

Other important facts:

  • 86% of consumers would use time slots.
  • 88% expect a click and collect service
  • 64% expect to collect from other networks collect points
  • 84% expect express delivery
  • 71% expect weekend delivery

Now, what are the drawbacks of not offering a compelling delivery proposition?

  • Reduced customer loyalty (39%)
  • Negative brand impact (36%)
  • Increased costs of returns (31%)
  • Increased calls to call centre (22%)
  • Increased negative social media mentions (21%)

Finally, 42% of consumers would be ready to receive a drone delivery! I can’t wait for that first experience but the air space may be crammed 🙂

In summary, 2 actions you should get on with rapidly:

  1. review your delivery proposition and the ones of your competitors to ensure you are at least competitive and if possible gain a competitive advantage
  2. discuss your costs and available services with your carier

Good luck and if you need help contact me

Benoit Mercier


Huddersfield Town Stadium Tour


Ok, I could not go back North without going back to Huddersfield. After all, I spent an amazing 15 years there. Therefore, I decided to take my son to visit is home town football team. I contacted the club and they very kindly agreed to take us behind the scenes. It was a great experience and nice to get back to what I would call a more down to earth dressing room :). It was also our first non-top flight stadium tour.

Huddersfield Town

Huddersfield Town Association Football Club is an English association football club that is based in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield and currently play in the Football League Championship (2015–16).

In 1926, Huddersfield became the first English club to win three successive league titles, a feat which only three other clubs have matched, and none has bettered. They also won the FA Cup in 1922.

Nicknamed The Terriers, the club plays in blue and white vertically striped shirts and white shorts. They have played home games at the John Smith’s Stadium since 1994. The stadium replaced Leeds Road, Huddersfield Town’s home since 1908.

Huddersfield Town Stadium

It seats 24,499, people along with hospitality boxes and conference rooms. There are four stands. The main stand, the Revell Ward Stand or Riverside Stand incorporates two-tiers of seats, with a row of 26 executive boxes running between them. This stand also houses the offices and suites. The LV= Britannia Rescue Stand, opposite the Riverside and commonly referred to as the Kilner Bank Stand, is a large, single-tiered stand which seats over 7,000 spectators. It was previously sponsored by John Smith’s and is still called this by many today. The John Smith’s South Stand, which seats 4,054, is usually allocated to away fans. It is built into natural banking and is the most basic of the stands. The Fantastic Media North stand is the tallest stand with two tiers, 16 hospitality boxes and a viewing room for players’ guests, built into the leisure centre. The lower tier consists of temporary seating that can be removed for events such as concerts.

During planning and construction, the stadium was referred to as the Kirklees Stadium. It was built by Alfred McAlpine (same than Bolton Wanderers), designed by HOK Sport and was awarded the RIBA Building of the Year award for 1995,

The decision to build a new stadium for Huddersfield Town was made in August 1992. Construction began the following year and it was completed in time for the 1994–95 season, enabling the club to move to its new base after 86 years at Leeds Road.

When the stadium opened only the two side stands (the Riverside and Kilner Bank stands) were ready. The South Stand was opened in December 1994. Construction on the North (Panasonic) Stand began in 1996 and it was completed in 1998, bringing the overall capacity of the stadium to approximately 24,500. The estimated cost of construction was £40 million.

The stadium Tour

It lasted 30min, which was more than enough for the little one after the morning session. The Lady that took us was lovely. We made our way to the reception (not the megastore!). We were greeted by an electronic board (See below), it felt like a truely personalised stadium tour experience.

IMG_2982 (2)

We visited the boxes, the restaurant, which were of a basic standard. We then went onto the pitch, that costs £750k, and his an absolute beauty. The stadium is very nice, when you think that not so long ago they were in League 2.

We then went to the home dressing room, which was kitted for tomorrow’s game. I loved the dressing room. Very much like the ones that I am used to from my playing days. Benches made of wood, kit bags everywhere, which leaves little room to move around. Love it.

Official information regarding the stadium tour:

Cost: £7.50 adult
Stadium architecture: 6/10
Stadium history: 6/10
Stadium Tour: 6/10 (although I loved it, I need to be credible when scoring!)
Overall mark: 6/10

Benoit Mercier

Manchester City FC Stadium Tour


Well, here is to a new adventure. This time, we drove up the M40 to Manchester. After a gruelling 5h30 drive (hate the M25), we arrived at the Etihad Stadium.

We had booked the 10.20am tour, best book them as they go off quickly, and we made sure we arrived 15min. The stadium is located 10min from the City Centre. The stadium was actually created for the Common Wealth Games.

Manchester City

Manchester City Football Club is a football club in Manchester, England. Founded in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton), they became Ardwick Association Football Club in 1887 and Manchester City in 1894. The club moved to the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003, having played at Maine Road since 1923.

The club’s most successful period was in the late 1960s and early 1970s when they won the League Championship, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup under the management team of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison. After losing the 1981 FA Cup Final, the club went through a period of decline, culminating in relegation to the third tier of English football for the only time in their history in 1998. Having regained their Premier League status in the early 2000s, the club was purchased in 2008 by Abu Dhabi United Group and has become one of the wealthiest in the world. Since 2011 the club have won six major honours, most notably the Premier League twice in 2012 and 2014.

By 2014–15, Manchester City had the sixth-highest revenue in the footballing world with an annual revenue of €463.5 million, and were the world’s fifth most valuable football team with an estimated valuation of $1.38 billion according to Forbes magazine

City of Manchester Stadium history

The City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester, England, also known as the Etihad Stadium for sponsorship reasons, is the home ground of Manchester City Football Club and, with a capacity of 60,000, the third-largest stadium in the Premier League and eighth-largest in the United Kingdom.

Built to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the stadium has since staged the 2008 UEFA Cup Final, England football internationals, rugby league matches, a boxing world title fight, the England rugby union team’s last match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and music concerts.

The stadium, originally proposed as an athletics arena in Manchester’s bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics, was converted after the 2002 Commonwealth Games from a 38,000 capacity arena to a 48,000 seat football stadium at a cost to the city council of £22 million and to Manchester City of £20 million. Manchester City F.C. have leased the stadium from Manchester City Council since moving from their Maine Road ground in the summer of 2003.

The stadium was built by Laing Construction at a cost of £112 million and was designed and engineered by ArupSport, whose design incorporated a cable-stayed roof structure, suspended by twelve exterior masts and attached cables. The stadium design has received much praise and many accolades, including an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2004 for its innovative inclusive building design, and a special award in 2003 from the Institution of Structural Engineers for its unique structural design.

In August 2015, a 7,000 seat third tier on the South Stand was completed, in time for the start of the 2015–16 football season. The expansion was designed to be in keeping with the existing roof design. A North Stand third tier has planning approval and work on it is expected to begin by 2017, increasing capacity to around 61,000

The stadium Tour

First of all, you must know that you need to park in the Blue car park, as you cannot do so in the main car park (should save 15min). As usual, you meet in the megastore and you go to the second floor. The tour is meant to last 1h30 but ours lasted 2h30. Our guide was on fire, so eager to share his knowledge and passion, it was great.

We started the tour by going into the museum to take a picture with the original League Cup. We then make our way to the Corporate hospitality in the Chairman lounge. It was beautiful and definitely 5 stars. Costs per person per game…£500. The interesting fact is that there are two private booth for Club Directors to have a conversation and potentially conclude deals. This was the case for Lescott to get him from Everton to Man City. You then go into the stands and seat on the posh seats with central heating 🙂

Afterwards, we made our way to the media room. The best one to date with the Emirates. Spacious and luxurious. You then make your way towards the dressing rooms going through an amazing warm up room (full of new machines, and a mini pitch!). The dressing rooms are of a medium size but the seats (sports leather type) are the nicest. We were actually in the dressing room when they prepared them for the game against West Brom tomorrow. 2 shirts each and couple of socks. Finally, we went down the tunnel onto the pitch.

We then exited the stadium but not before our guide gave us the following facts:

  1. The Premier League trophy only has two Lions, whereas England has three, but that is because the Captain lifting the trophy is considered to be the third Lion
  2. The eagle on the crest is in reference to the Roman Eagle (Manchester was a roman town)
  3. The gardener has got an app to switch on the sprinklers
  4. It takes 8min to clear the stadium…
  5. …and it takes 3 days to prepare the stadium for the Champions League game (they even have to tape the logo of each TV because LG is not an official sponsor (ridiculous right, not to a marketeer)

Official information regarding the stadium tour:

Cost: £17 adult
Stadium architecture: 8/10
Stadium history: 9/10
Stadium Tour: 10/10
Overall mark: 9/10

Benoit Mercier

Chelsea FC Stadium Tour

stamford bridge

Well a new Saturday and therefore a new destination. This time, we decided to stay in London and visit Stamford Bridge. Chelsea Football Club is a professional football club based in Fulham, London, that competes in the Premier League. Founded in 1905, the club’s home ground since then has been Stamford Bridge.

We had booked the 3.20pm tour, best book them as they go off quickly, and we made sure we arrived 15min before hand at Fulham Broadway tube station. The stadium is 2min walk from the station and in the pure British tradition, it is located around houses, pubs and hotels. My first reaction is that it is a nice stadium.

Stamford Bridge history

Stamford Bridge’ is considered to be a derivative of ‘Samfordesbrigge’ meaning ‘the bridge at the sandy ford’. Eighteenth century maps show a ‘Stanford Creek’ running along the route of what is now a railway line at the back of the East Stand as a tributary of the Thames. The upper reaches of this tributary have been known as Billingswell Ditch, Pools Creek and Counters Creek. In mediaeval times the Creek was known as Billingwell Dyche, derived from ‘Billing’s spring or stream’. It formed the boundary between the parishes of Kensington and Fulham. By the eighteenth century the creek had become known as Counter’s Creek which is the name it has retained since. The stream had two local bridges: Stamford Bridge on the Fulham Road (also recorded as Little Chelsea Bridge) and Stanbridge on the Kings Road, now known as Stanley Bridge.The existing Stamford Bridge was built of brick in 1860–2 and has been partly reconstructed since then.

The brand New Stamford Bridge stadium in August 1905. Chelsea beat West Brom at Stamford Bridge in September 1905. Stamford Bridge opened in 1877 as a home for the London Athletic Club and was used almost exclusively for that purpose until 1904, when the lease was acquired by brothers Gus and Joseph Mears, who wanted to stage high-profile professional football matches there. However, previous to this, in 1898, Stamford Bridge played host to the World Championship of shinty between Beauly Shinty Club and London Camanachd. It was initially offered to Fulham Football Club, but they turned it down for financial reasons. After considering the sale of the land to the Great Western Railway Company, the Mears decided to found their own football club, Chelsea, to occupy the ground as a rival to Fulham. Noted football ground architect Archibald Leitch, who had also designed Ibrox, Celtic Park, Craven Cottage and Hampden Park, was hired to construct the stadium. In its early days, Stamford Bridge stadium was served by a small railway station, Chelsea and Fulham railway station, which was later closed after World War II bombing. Designed by Archibald Leitch, it is an exact replica of the Stevenage Road Stand stand he had previously built at the re-developed Craven Cottage (and the main reason why Fulham had chosen not to move into the new ground). The other sides were all open in a vast bowl and thousands of tons of material excavated from the building of the Piccadilly line provided high terracing for standing spectators exposed to the elements on the west side.
The stadium Tour
As any good tour, it starts from the megastore (outside the stadium). You get the chance to take a picture with the real Premier League trophy and then your guide comes to pick us up. Our guide was a really nice guy, friendly and full of jokes (I am on the receiving end but youwould expect that). We make our way to the bridge and start with the Shed End. This is the stand were the most fanatical Chelsea fans are. It confirmed my impression that it is a very nice British stadium. You feel close to the pitch and I can imagine a nice atmosphere on a European night. I must say that the tour is not very friendly to buggies, but then we come and visit a football stadium not a children’s park :). We then make our way to the media area and the guide explains that the desk where the Special One gave is post match interviews is the one where key players like Zola, Gullit, Makelele and Lampard signed their contract. It is quite small and I imagine it must be feeling cosy when you have about 200 journalists in. We then make our way to the away dressing room. It is spacious but basic. Few shirts from the greats that have played at the bridge (Moore, Charlton, Becks, Messi, Cruyff, Ronaldo). The guide cracks few jokes. The best one is when he merges the two physio tables and says that they have to do that when Rooney visits. Harsh. We then go to the home dressing room and I must say, nothing special. The players are sat together with their mates and not by role or number. You have all Brazilians, French, English (or what is left of them). We then go down the tunnel but not the interview rooms, which I am surprised. Now to the most awaited time of the afternoon…the pitch. We go through the tunnel and have full sight of the pitch. Amazing. Cost £1m a year, a bargain. It is cloudy so the U. lamps are out. There is a small tent on the penalty spot and the guide explain that it is to generate dioxyde of carbon so that the grass recovers faster! We then sit in the famous dugout and I can see Jose arguing with Eva! We then make our way through the stands and the tour is over. Well not before you have paid £10 for your picture with the Premier League.
Although the guide was really good, the tour felt rushed with little time to take pictures towards the end. You can feel that you are on a production line and the other tours are catching up. My disappointments are that we do not visit the VIP, corporate hospitality and interview rooms. But we did get some good stories along the way.

Official information regarding the stadium tour:

Cost: £19 adult with discount but normally £22
Stadium architecture: 8/10
Stadium history: 10/10
Stadium Tour: 6/10
Overall mark: 8/10

Benoit Mercier