Shutl is the world's fastest, most convenient and best-loved delivery option enabling customers to get their products when they want them. It's the ultimate delivery solution, providing immediacy and convenience to customers who can receive their goods within minutes of purchase or within a 1-hour window of their choice.
We got the chance to sit down and talk with Shutl CEO and founder Tom Allason, ahead of Shutl's appearance at this year's Europe's Customer Festival in September.
Total Customer: What solutions will you showcase at Europe's Customer Festival this September?
Tom Allason: We'll be showcasing two things this year; one is our best practice case study presentation with one of our retail partners on how to use delivery as a key means for driving customer loyalty . We'll also be showcasing the Shutl solution, which is the delivery service we provide to retailers. In a nutshell, we enable retailers to drive conversion, order value and customer satisfaction by offer their online shoppers a really compelling delivery proposition founded upon immediacy and convenience.
TC: What differentiates your offering from others in the delivery space?
TA: Most delivery services used by retailers operate on a hub-and-spoke model. They're typically the big B2B brands that everyone's heard of, so FedEx, UPS, Royal Mail etc., and they're the most cost-effective means of delivering an order when the distance from point of collection to the point of delivery is more than 10 or 15 miles. The downside is that they're inherently slow and inconvenient- vans are dispatched to collect packages from multiple collection points, then take them back to a depot to be sorted before sending them out on preordained routes the following day.
Shutl operates an entirely different model. We do point-to-point delivery; leveraging local stock – typically held in a nearby store – and delivering direct to the consumer. This by far the fastest way of doing it, and in many cases the cheapest, when the distance is less than 10 miles.
Our key point of differentiation is our proposition to both the retailer and the consumer. We're a branded delivery option and that's fundamentally important to what we do. You shop at Argos, Oasis, Karen Millen, and you see Shutl as a prominent delivery option.
The Shutl user experience is consistent across all of our retail partners, so think of us exactly like PayPal but for delivery. We're a branded web service that plugs in with the retailer's site, and it is this uniformity of experience that breeds familiarity with the service, enabling us to attract and retain customers
Secondly, we're the only immediate and convenient solution out there. Unlike every other delivery service I'm familiar with, the delivery happens at a time that suits the courier – not the customer. We enable the user to actually specify the exact one-hour window they want, be it later today, tomorrow, or any point in the future. Indeed, they can get it in a matter of minutes if they choose to.
Finally, our pricing is far lower than you'd expect. Instead of being higher than the average it's very much comparable, and in many cases it's actually offered for free.
TC: Do you think your business is one reason behind retailers having to re-address exactly what the store is?
TA: The way we see it is that people shop in stores for a couple of reasons: they like the touchy-feely side of shopping, they want to get customer service and the satisfaction that comes with it. That will never change. However, they also visit stores because it's the only convenient way of getting what you want when you want it – it's the only channel through which people can truly shop on their own terms.
Our vision of the store is that stores are the greatest assets that multi-channel retailer have. They're their biggest cost base and retailers need to ensure they're sweating those assets as best they can for generating maximum return. They have to be more than just a means to engage with high-street shoppers, they also need to be local depots for fulfilling online purchases.
This is exactly what our model is based around. We work with retailers to leverage local stock, to offer an online proposition that's so compelling people will no longer simply want to just shop on Amazon because it's so easy.
Amazon is becoming a major threat in the UK. In the US, "tackling the threat of Amazon" is one of the top items on every retailer's agenda.
Now Amazon has announced it's intentions to enter into same-day delivery, how the hell does everyone compete when customers have greater choice and can buy it cheaper elsewhere? Let's not forget that Amazon handles delivery pretty well – and again cheaply too – but they fall down on the fact that their delivery offering suits their model, not the customer's needs. Customer convenience is the one battleground that multi-channel retailers can dominate. Shutl enables retailers to leverage their one strategic advantage by offering a consumer proposition that is compelling enough to attract shoppers away from Amazon in the long-term.
TC: Do you see this being applicable for small and medium sized local retailers, perhaps we might see a resurgence in the success of local retail through such initiatives?
TA: Yes, we absolutely agree. We think people actually want to shop locally. They want local produce, they want to support the people and businesses who form part of their community. That is essentially at the core of our proposition. We're enabling retailers of all shapes and sizes to better serve their local community by providing greater access and convenience to their produce and services. I mean, the local area is really, really important.
TC: Backtracking slightly here, but what do you think makes a consumer abandon their basket at checkout, and is it really a big issue at the moment?
TA: We've done a lot of research into this space and I think it's critical that retailers understand where the opportunities lie. What are the easy things they can fix or do to make a massive impact on their business? You know, understand where they are really haemorrhaging money?
Improving conversion within their ecommerce funnel is one thing they can look at and make radical improvements to with relative ease, the benefits of which will be felt across the whole business.
Retailers are incredibly good at driving traffic to their site – currently UK retailers spend, on average, about five per cent of their revenue on customer acquisition and retention. However, around 67% of online shoppers abandon their cart before checkout, with 2/3 citing delivery as a reason – either too slow, too expensive or too inconvenient. Unless you have an optimised delivery proposition then the bulk of this marketing budget is wasted before it's even left the bank.
The interesting thing is that although the wastage in marketing spend is massive on the retailer's side, it's only actually a fraction when compared to the lost sales they're experiencing.
Basically, delivery is the number one reason that consumers give for not shopping online, largely because it's inconvenient. Ninety per cent of those who do shop online say it is the number one annoyance. On top of that, the majority of comments being made about delivery online are negative because the experience is fundamentally inconvenient.
It's a massive, massive issue, however UK retailers still pose the question "customers aren't demanding same day delivery, so why do I need to offer it?". Our answer is, well, people didn't ask for email or the iPhone either, but guess whatâ€¦ Once shoppers have experienced Shutl, they start to expect and even demand it.
It's different in the US though, delivery is the hottest topic because it's something that all of the big guys are focusing on. We know that amazon is moving into same day delivery in the US. Google has launched its own delivery service Google Shopping Express as a same day delivery service in San Francisco. Walmart and eBay are both trialling same day services. Everyone is investing heavily in developing these propositions and it's only a matter of time before it becomes the norm.
Retailers have a closing window of opportunity to adopt early, make a big statement and â€˜own' convenience. It's just a question of how and when they're going to do it – and we offer an easy solution.
TC: Finally, what are the three main things you're looking forward to most at Europe's Customer Festival in September?
TA: Well, there's two speakers we're particularly interested. One is Katie Wadey from Tesco as I'd like to hear what she's got to say about loyalty – after all they're a good reference of best practice in the industry. The second is Eben Sermon from eBay.
Other than that it's a great forum for us to meet both partners who we can talk about offering Shutl, along with partners who we can work with to provide more integrated marketing solutions to our clients.
It's also an ideal forum for learning what the big challenges are out there from the people at the coalface, and what challenges retailers are actually facing in terms of engaging with their customers. We're at a stage now where we have lots and lots of applications of our service in the pipeline and it'll be interesting to see which ones of those gain most traction and how we can best adapt them to meet the needs of retailers and shoppers.
In particular, our focus on loyalty is a core part of our proposition in terms of the value we bring to the retailer. Understanding the role that plays out within retailer's business and the value they put on it is paramount. Europe's Customer Festival helps us uncover all this stuff whilst sharing our offering with others too.
You'll be able to meet Tom and Shutl at this year's Europe's Customer Festival so you can find out more about what they're all about.