Peter Eason

Hand-held technology is now holding the hands of consumers who demand the same transparency from the pallet networks as they do from the major parcel carriers - as a hygiene factor rather than a ‘nice to have.’

Gone are the days when consumers had to take time off work to wait at home for a non-specified delivery slot – somewhere between 8.30am and 8pm – a factor driven by online operators such as Amazon.

Everyone has a smartphone and can track their deliveries, which puts the power back into the hands of the customers.

Instantaneous communication is not only a great driver of consumer satisfaction, but also one for efficiency and productivity for businesses, allowing pallet networks such as Pallet-Track to provide the real-time updates offered by major parcel delivery firms.

As a member of Pallet-Track we have just invested £30,000 in the latest Zebra TC56 model across our fleet, a second-generation device which provides for us the next logical step in real-time updates on deliveries. It can be used for inventory management, order or returns processing, proof of delivery (PoD) and track and trace.

It is a major investment but it is most definitely necessary. The technology is easier for drivers to use and it also cuts down the number of data SIMs we need to provide for each cab, from five to two or three. This transparency and live ETAs and PoD also means fewer customer calls into the office – it puts the control into the hands of the customer.

We deliver all over London – into building sites, for example – and we use the technology to track consignments. If there is a query on a large site, we can tell the customer where the materials are in real time and who signed for them as well as provide photographic evidence to that effect.

The GPS functionality also helps manage customer expectation. London is a busy city and, in the current climate of protest, the system will update delivery times, allowing for delays and detours to avoid crowds and congestion as it is continually updating.

It is imperative we stay ahead of the curve with technology, as the margins in the sector remain tight and we need to ensure we are offering the best possible service to our customers.

Peter Eason, MD, ELB Partners