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John Lewis invests in omnichannel with new distribution centre; Nightline offers customers more choice

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John Lewis is opening a new distribution centre as it strengthens its logistics network to support improvements in its omnichannel delivery services.

John Lewis will handle large furniture, electricals and home furnishing deliveries through the 638,000 sq ft warehouse in Milton Keynes, on which it has signed a 25 year lease. The centre will support its existing Magna Park distribution centre and Magna Park 2, set to be fully operational next year. It will replace centres at Carlisle, Stevenage and Milton Keynes, where 239 staff are being offered the option of relocation to the new site or another Milton Keynes site.

Dino Rocos, operations director at John Lewis, said: “As customers shopping habits evolve so too does our operational business model. The new DC will enable us to better respond, react and fulfil omnichannel shopping experiences be it via phone, tablet, desktop or visiting a shop.

“For the supply chain this means improving availability. Our new Milton Keynes DC will complement our two Magna Park sites and provide us with the space to continue to build on the improvements we have made in providing better service to our shops and customers.”

Meanwhile, Nightline has launched a €1m delivery scheme aimed at handing more control to the online shoppers who use its delivery services.

The carrier, a leading Irish independent delivery firm, promises that the Parcel Pilot system, developed with Irish software agency Xpreso to act as a bridge between its in-house Smartship sofware platform and the nationwide Parcel Motel network of locker terminals (pictured), will give shoppers more say in the last mile of delivery. Shoppers can track the van carrying their delivery and drivers can contact shoppers – or vice versa, through the Parcel Pilot app – when circumstances change and delivery has to be altered.

Nightline chief executive John Tuohy says the system will reduce the cost and environmental impact of failed first-time deliveries.

“The fundamental reason behind Parcel Pilot is the desire on our part to create a means of closing the gap between what consumers experience when they buy in a high street store and when they shop online,” he said. “Until now, most have had little or no involvement once they have paid for their purchases at the online checkout. They may have nominated a home delivery slot but only have fairly broad information about when goods will arrive. If circumstances change on the scheduled day of receipt, there has been no way of contacting a courier in real time to redirect parcels.

“That, of course, results in the hassle of their organising another delivery or going to a depot to collect items. That is bad for shoppers but retailers and carriers too not only because it can mean making another delivery but there is the potential for unhappy consumers to take their custom elsewhere next time.

“Parcel Pilot changes all that. It provides retailers and their customers with up to the minute information, optimised routing and the ability to amend delivery instructions even when packages are en route.”

The system has been trialled and will be rolled out to drivers and depots over the next six months. Nightline says it is talking to a number of UK retailers about extending Parcel Pilot to their customers.

“Many deliveries have an element of uncertainty in the final mile, especially in a country like Ireland which will not have its own national postcode system until later this year,” said Tuohy.

“We are confident that we have come up with a method of improving that situation by making consumers feel more involved in the critical last element of the e-commerce process. Making them feel engaged means a better chance of keeping them satisfied and encourages them to shop again and again, something which surely every retailer wants.”

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