Former ASOS exec predicts further high street casualties
A former executive at ASOS who also worked at John Lewis expects more major retailers to fall by the wayside following the administration of Maplin and Toys R Us.
Stuart Hill is a former head of international operations at online fashion retailer ASOS and is now CEO of disruptive fleet management software firm Pie.io.
Staff of Toys R Us and electronics firm Maplin face an uncertain future after administrators were called in this week.
“There are going to be a lot more casualties on the high street,” Hill told BusinessCloud.
“For the guys who haven’t caught up in the eCommerce space and who rely heavily on their bricks and mortar, the economics of it just doesn’t stack up.
“If you look at Toys R Us and Maplin’s online offering and compare it to Amazon, it’s a real shame to see. Traditional retailers have to get that multichannel offering spot-on.”
Hill was at John Lewis in 2002 when it bought hi-fi and gadget website Buy.com and turned it into its first website. It was a time when “there were just five orders coming in a day”.
“For John Lewis at that time to make that move was bold for the retail industry and even bolder for a retailer like John Lewis,” he said.
“Even they are struggling… I was in John Lewis in the TV section the other week and people weren’t even waiting to get outside the store before going on their phones to look at the products online.”
During Hill’s time at ASOS.com, he oversaw all international operations at a time when business growth went from £30m turnover to more than £350m, one of the world’s best online success stories to date.
He went on to co-found wnDirect in 2012 which sought to improve delivery services into international markets for eCommerce retailers.
“We wanted to create a seamless experience for a customer where, no matter where it was delivered from, it felt like it had come from around the corner,” he explained.
He won ‘Business Enabler of the Year’ at the 2016 National Business Awards and delivery giant DPD acquired the business, which has delivered more than 54 million packages, in 2017.
He is now CEO at Pie.io, a London-based fleet management software company which is revolutionising the delivery industry and won DPD’s technology incubator scheme Last Mile Labs.
It seeks to connect fleet planning, routing and tracking on one app.
“What we’ve tried to do is try to break down that retail logistics chain into elements which require visibility to make sure something gets from A to B as quickly and cheaply as possible,” he continued.
“There has been a hell of a lot of investment into doorstep delivery, middle mile, last mile… the first mile piece which we focus on is interesting because it’s not sexy.
“But getting parcels out of the likes of John Lewis and ASOS and to a carrier is also important.
“Gaining visibility now of vehicles turning up into warehouses where ASOS are trying to get hundreds of thousands of orders out of the door tonight to meet a customer expectation tomorrow is critical. If that vehicle is an hour late, it can be the difference between all of those customers being happy and not.
“The expectation of customers now is to be able to see where the driver is on that route and when they are going to arrive. To bring that level of technology to the retail sector in the first mile, when drivers arrive at a warehouse, is something we’re very passionate about.”
DPD is one of the early investors into Pie.io but does not have exclusivity on its technology.
Fast food chain KFC recently hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it moved from a food specialist carrier to another delivery giant, DHL. Amid teething problems, many of its outlets were left without supplies of chicken for days.
“That is exactly the sort of problem that our technology could help avoid,” claimed Hill.