22 Feb 2019 | 10.51 am
Interview: Gilles Ferrandez, An Post
An Post’s ambition is to be the e-commerce backbone in Ireland for shoppers and shippers
22 Feb 2019 | 10.51 am
The growth of e-commerce changed the game for many operators in the logistics and postal sector, including An Post. Online shoppers now want flexibility with parcels deliveries to a degree not hitherto seen by operators. As a result, CEO David McRedmond headed up a radical reorganisation of An Post’s parcel service that began in 2016 and is still ongoing.
A suite of new or improved An Post services now provides parcel deliveries at times that suit shoppers, and with the nimbleness that they demand. Overall parcel volume for An Post through 2018 was up by 42%, with more than 30 million parcels processed.
E-commerce parcel traffic grew by 46% last year and An Post secured several big retailers as customers, including Zara, H&M, Ikea and Decathlon. An Post is also clicking with Irish e-commerce companies – traffic volume handled for them was up 20% for in 2018.
Gilles Ferrandez (pictured), Commercial Director in charge of An Post’s parcels division, navigates the organisation through the festive season, the busiest time of the year. In late 2018, An Post also launched its new InFlight flexible delivery options scheme, which Ferrandez says has been a solid success.
“For InFlight, we use a mobile-enabled website that doesn’t require any registration or downloads,” he explains. “We send you a text with a link to a webpage. There are five delivery options there for you to choose: delivery to a neighbour, a safe place (e.g. porch), a different address, delivery on a different day, or delivery to a post office or other specified collection point.”
Through An Post’s Click & Collect service, firms can also facilitate flexible deliveries. They can integrate the Click & Collect delivery option into their website shopping cart, allowing shoppers to pick up their parcels at nearby post offices at a time that suits them.
Ferrandez says that An Post has a two-pronged approach to its ongoing repositioning as an e-commerce-ready parcel deliverer. The first prong involved a wooing of big retailers and end customers, which is already in motion. In 2019, smaller companies selling online or looking to do so will also come into prime focus for An Post.
“In 2019 and 2020, we plan to invest in excess of €20m in our technology and operations. Around €15m of this is set aside for parcel automation machines in our parcel hubs, which will improve our ability to process and sort parcels.
“We also plan to get bigger vans to our delivery people, moving them away from bikes onto electric vehicles where appropriate. We hope to have a full electric fleet between the canals in Dublin before the end of 2019. Our ambition is to be the e-commerce backbone in Ireland for shoppers and shippers.”
Ferrandez sees the broadening of An Post’s Click & Collect service as a key facet in bringing more business customers on board. “Through 2019, we will expand our network of Click & Collect points to include convenience stores too. We currently have 1,100 post offices as collection points for Click & Connect but the expansion to convenience stores will double that.”
An Post’s ongoing parcels refocus will see it increasingly target SMEs of all sorts that are looking to get their feet on the e-commerce ladder. “We recently launched our new AnPost.com website, which includes a section on parcels and e-commerce,” Ferrandez adds. “As a result, we are getting a lot more enquiries from SMEs looking at how to start selling online.”