As retailers look to the New Year, Hermes’ Mark Pettit outlines how the company plans to support retailers by investing in innovation.

It’s a brand new year and that means people up and down the country will be trying their very best not to break New Year resolutions made only a few days ago. For most people it will be some sort of lifestyle choice, probably something involving the gym (we have all been there) or cutting out junk food. This year, the Hermes team is promising to build on the success of 2014 by continuing to invest in innovation.

Investing in new ideas

Over the past 12 months, we have placed huge emphasis on the development of innovative new services, designed to increase accessibility and visibility, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience. Last summer, Hermes became the first consumer delivery company to offer its retail customers seven-day coverage, with the launch of its Sunday service.

We also launched the three click returns service that allows customers to organise return delivery of unwanted items online in just three clicks on a dedicated website. This was followed up by the Hermes Parcel Manager App, providing the end customer with access to real-time updates on the journey of their parcels by using ‘push notification’ technology.

International innovations

Another important development came when we launched a comprehensive international delivery solution, enabling retailers seamless access to consumers in 20 European countries. The service provides a simple cross border returns service designed to overcome the reticence of international customers to buy from overseas websites owing to concerns about returning unwanted items. The decision to develop such a service was largely formed from our 2013 research into online shopping habits from across different countries.

The 2014 Parcel Deliveries Usage and Attitude Survey was based on the behaviour of 2,000 UK shoppers and a further 1,000 from both France and Germany. This research has also formed the basis of our new internationally focused white paper, Going The Extra Mile, which you can read here. However, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of the findings on this blog.

Confidence in overseas online shopping high

The confidence being displayed by British consumers at home is also evident when it comes to purchasing items from overseas online retailers. About 84% of UK and France-based shoppers have ordered from a foreign retailer’s website compared with just 67% of the German population. Meanwhile, the results show that online retailers in the UK are doing a fantastic job attracting buyers from abroad.

More than a third of German and French shoppers have bought from the UK, with the country beating China and the US to top the poll. However, delivery companies and retailers need to do more to drive down the cost of delivery overseas. Across all markets, half of the respondents who had not shopped online overseas said it was down to high delivery charges.

The growth in the number of people shopping online overseas, and the success of the UK retail industry attracting foreign shoppers, illustrates the strength of retail brands in the UK and the investment companies such as Hermes has made to develop international delivery networks. We will continue to develop this network over the course of 2015 – definitely a New Year’s resolution we will not break.

  • Mark Pettit is sales and marketing director at Hermes