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Company spotlight: NetDespatch

What does your company do?

We provide the integration between the retailer and the carrier. We enable retailers to distribute their parcels out to consumers and we provide different methods for doing that. We’ve been operating for over 16 years, we’re very resilient – we have 99.999% up time – and we enable people to ship their parcels both domestically in the UK and also worldwide. We have carrier customers in other parts of the world. But what we really do for the carriers is help them to get to market quickly.

For carriers, we enable the rapid on boarding of retailers at a very low cost and we provide a unique approach in that respect. The alternatives are really focused on supplying the retailer and charging the retailer. We make it easy for the carrier to do that for the retailer so they don’t have to worry. It’s free to the retailer.

We sit in the retail space and understand the needs of retailers as well as the differing nature of what their consumers are asking them for

Matthew Robertson Co-CEO

We provide great economies of scale. As far as we’re aware, there aren’t any other platforms who do what we do with the number of retailers and this is down to the basics. We enable them to book deliveries or returns, print labels, print custom shipping documents and manifests, and automatically pre-advise the carrier of parcels to be despatched. We take that all out of their hands. They don’t have to worry about it or think about, so it makes their lives very easy.

What is your USP?

Our customer is the carrier, while the consumer of our services is the retailer. So we’re not providing a carrier management platform, we’re providing the ability for retailers to use the likes of CollectPlus, Yodel or the Royal Mail and many others. It’s just a different way of focusing on it.

Typically, a retailer will go to their carrier and tell them they need a certain capability – this could be web service, batch data, manual booking or a hybrid of all of those. Then either the carrier will come to us or occasionally the retailer will ask us to approach a carrier. Most typically they’ll have gone to the carrier and said, “This is what we need, can you supply that to us?” and the carrier will have told them, “Well, we can do part of that but to do the whole package, what we need to do is include NetDespatch.” So at that point, we are effectively acting for the carrier in providing those services to the retailer.

How would you describe your company’s vision?

We’re really focusing on the top six carriers and developing our relationships with them and the retailers. We sit in the retail space and understand the needs of retailers as well as the differing nature of what their consumers are asking them for. We’ve already demonstrated this. We’re the leaders in click and collect in the UK market, we’re the people behind CollectPlus, Pass My Parcel and other offerings. That’s our core focus and the differentiator is in scale and our ability to expand. As I say, we currently have between 130 and 140 thousand retailers but what we’re now looking towards is millions of retailers by expanding our reach into the retail market. There is more than enough opportunity in the UK market to expand into it. The focus out into international markets will come after that, in the next few years.

What are you doing currently in the ecommerce/multichannel market?

A significant amount of the traffic that comes through the platform is in effect B2C ecommerce-dominated traffic. So we’re facilitating lots of the activity from other order management platforms, shopping cart environments, etc. We are the glue that holds all of that together because that’s not an area that online retailers want to focus on.

What new functionality have you added for retailers?

We continue to work on our API set. Some of the areas that we’ve facilitated are things like the print in store capability that CollectPlus are now providing within the retail environment. We’re sitting behind that.

This is the ability for a consumer to come into a store with a reference number and have a shipping label printed out for them on the CollectPlus terminal. It could be to return or they just want to send something somewhere but don’t have a printer at home.

How does what you’re doing compare to your competitors?

We don’t really have many direct competitors. The people who sit on the other side of the shop – the likes of MetaPack or GFS – they work on a different basis by directly engaging with, and being paid by, the retailer. Their level of scale is completely different to us. So our product roadmap is far more reflective of an inclusive, cooperative, collaborative way of working. We’re aiding both the retailer and the carrier to work together. Our job is to make the service work.

Who are your customers?

It’s the carriers because they’re the people who pay us. So while we provide the service to the retailer and they are people consuming it who gain obvious benefits from it, there are also equal a benefits for the carrier. Our systems enable them to actually get those bookings and those parcels into their network with uniform labels, the correct barcodes, the address validated and all of the tracking enabled.

What do you see as challenges in the coming year and what are you doing to meet those challenges?

We’re in a very fortunate position in that our challenge is how we deal with the very significant opportunity we have in front of us. How do we do that so that we’re continuously meeting the scale of that opportunity? We want to continue to provide the same outstanding service but at an ever increasing scale. Sitting behind the scenes, helping lots of people –it’s a very nice place to be and that’s what we want to keep doing.

Customer case study – JustKeepers

Specialist goalkeeping equipment retailer, JustKeepers, is saving time and money using a seamless integration solution from NetDespatch and Retail and Sports Systems.

JustKeepers is a leading online retail specialist providing goalkeeping gloves and clothing to the market from top brands such as Adidas, Nike, Uhlsport and Umbro.

In order to grow its business and handle increased volumes at peak times such as Christmas and the start of the season, JustKeepers needed a platform to provide seamless integration with its carrier services. NetDespatch was the obvious choice.

JustKeepers was already using an ecommerce solution provided by Retail and Sport Systems, who partner with NetDespatch and as a result, JustKeepers realised that it could also utilise NetDespatch’s carrier integration solution.

JustKeepers runs a live activated stock system, which means customers can only buy if they can see the product is available online, so orders need to be fulfilled and processed quickly. Back in 1997, when the business was started, JustKeepers was handling around 20 to 50 orders a day with a very manual process. Today, JustKeepers handles up to 200 orders per day and the NetDespatch system has helped them to cope with this volume and seamlessly process and ship orders. The integration means that as soon as a parcel is selected for despatch, the correct label for the chosen carrier is automatically produced in JustKeepers’ warehouse, ensuring that each parcel is not only correctly addressed but also complies with the carrier’s requirements.

Ian Milne, director for JustKeepers, says

“The NetDespatch system has really helped us. The software transition was seamless and instantly, overnight, we reaped the benefits.”


Company founded: 1998

Global reach: Were acquired in 2015 by Royal Mail but are a separate trading company

Turnover: Just over £3m

Customers: 130-140,000 users of the platform (retailers). In the border of 10+ main carriers and around 150 smaller carriers on top of that

Number of employees: 43

Number of partners: Around 160

Tel: 08451 305093 Int: +44 (0) 197 836 7475

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