9 December, 2013
Substantial new funding for MetaPack
MetaPack, the delivery management company that provides on-the-fly carrier selection and other resources to many leading online retailers, has secured a substantial £20 million investment from Index Ventures, a venture capital investor specialising in growth companies.
MetaPack says the move comes in the wake of sustained expansion, reflected in an average annual revenue growth rate of 60 per cent over the last four years.
The investment partly involves acquisition of shares from existing shareholders, but we understand that most of it represents new share capital. It is not known how big a stake Index will hold in the enlarged business, but we are told it is under 50 per cent.
MetaPack says the new funding will enable it to invest more in core technology for existing customers, and also to build out its product range, which already includes retail intelligence and carrier performance tools and anti-fraud data matching.
It also plans to invest in European expansion, and establish what it calls a Global Label Library – an intriguing concept which, it says, will facilitate cross-border e-commerce sales round the world.
As part of the deal with Index, one of its partners, Dominique Vidal, will join the MetaPack board. He more than 20 years’ experience of growth companies, and was chief executive of Yahoo! Europe and founder of Kelkoo.
eBay acquiring Shutl
eBay is acquiring Shutl, the UK-based same-day delivery specialist founded by entrepreneur Tom Allason four years ago. The marketplace giant says the company fits in well with its plans for the fulfilment market, and “its talent and expertise will help eBay to reach its goal of expanding its local delivery capabilities.”
Shutl provides an online platform that enables retailers to offer same-day or named-day delivery to selected shoppers. Each delivery job is offered automatically to a community of third-party courier companies, who in effect bid for the work; but the process is almost instantaneous, and to the shopper it is seamless.
Shutl recently expanded into the United States, where it has been energetically building up its presence. Shortly before the eBay deal was revealed it announced two new senior appointments there – Sean Cornwell (ex-eHarmony and Google) as chief operating officer for the region, and Mike Fiorito (ex-UX logistics) as head of North America operations.
Waitrose trials box bank deliveries with ByBox
Grocery retailer Waitrose is to launch a what is thought to be the first network of temperature-controlled locker banks in the UK.
The lockers will form part of Waitrose’s click and collect service, providing alternative pickup locations from next year – probably in places where there is no store nearby. Currently the idea is on test at the Waitrose head office in Bracknell, where a locker bank has been supplied by ByBox.
Shoppers who order through the waitrose.com web site will be texted with a PIN code when their order has been delivered to the box bank, and then can use the code to access the locker allocated to them.
Hermes and ByBox working together in ground-breaking deal
Carrier Hermes and locker systems specialist ByBox are working together in a move unprecedented in Britain’s delivery solutions arena.
Hermes is to allow shippers using its myHermes service to drop off their consignments at a selected ByBox locker bank as an alternative to having them collected or dropping them at a high-street Parcel Shop. There will be no extra cost.
The system is seen as ideal for small traders such as eBay power sellers and Amazon Marketplace sellers, adding flexibility to their despatch options. Hermes adds that it has not ruled out using the lockers for despatch of outgoing consignments at some later date.
Royal Mail to enter the click and collect fray
Royal Mail and the Post Office are planning to launch their own click and collect drop-off network for home shopping deliveries. It is expected to be rolled out later this year.
The network will be based on local post offices, and Royal Mail says no fewer than 10,500 will be included in the service. This large number caterpaults the organisation into the forefront of the increasingly crowded drop-off network market, giving it more locations than its biggest rival, CollectPlus.
Post offices have been used by Royal Mail and Parcelforce Worldwide for some years to offer consumers alternative pickup points for consignments that couldn’t be delivered to the intended address, and there has even been provision for recipients to ask for consignments to be delivered to a post office in the first place.
However, this is a much bolder and more all-embracing initiative, which formalises the concept and gives it a much higher profile. According to Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels: “The click and collect initiative will help online retailers give shoppers even greater control over the delivery of their items.”
Consignors will have to be Royal Mail customers, and the organisation admits that the service is linked with moves to ramp up its parcels operation – which already accounts for nearly half of group revenues.
A degree of integration with participating retailers will be involved. Royal Mail says it is currently talking to what it terms “large online retailers” about integrating the service into their web sites later this year. It says it plans to extend the service to smaller retailers in 2014.
ASOS offers consumers live delivery tracking with DPD
ASOS claims to be the first online retailer to allow consumers to track their home deliveries in real time on the day of delivery. As part of this facility, it narrows down the predicted delivery time window to just 15 minutes on the day.
Consumers can also send a text on the delivery day requesting the driver to deliver to a different location (for instance, a neighbour’s house). They can even cancel the delivery during the delivery day, requesting an alternative day instead.
The new services are provided by carrier DPD under Follow My Parcel branding. DPD already provides consumers with an estimated a one-hour delivery time window (its Predict service), and the new features are an extension of that offer.