Welcome to this month’s edition of Despatches.
"I think back over the last 30 years it is quite incredible how much the logistics industry has changed. Once upon a time we were Diamond Despatch with a single motorcycle and an orange D reg Astra van called Jaffa, and we delivered as the couriers delivered in ancient Rome from A to B, albeit marginally quicker. Now you look at our network of 30 warehouse’s round the UK with over 50% of our revenue derived from online income, which by the way only five years ago it was only 5%, and the business has exponentially changed in 30 years.
Its one of the reasons I've been enthusiastic everyday about the business.
Its ever changing. It's always interesting. Its been at the forefront of great client experience simply because the entry level to the industry is quite low and therefore competition could be quite high initially. But as we enter blue water in terms of our future strategy i.e. local same day fulfilment and specialist fulfilment and focus on the owner managed businesses, the future for Diamond is bright.
From start up in 1992, to the 1996 re branding to Diamond Logistics – setting my ambitions as higher than that of a ‘mere’ courier company, I always wanted a national presence. It took me a while to get it primarily because I was a single mother of two children and they were my primary focus but when they finally went off to university I kicked down around 2011 diversifying into overnights and internationals as Daniel Allin joined the business. In 2013 we piloted the idea of our network partner model and sold our first one in 2014. Today we have reached 30 sites in time to celebrate our 30th birthday. This has been enabled by the technology we started developing in 2016 as we realised that the off the shelf technology was not fit for purpose. So now, not only are we a logistics business we are a technology company.
We've grown tenfold in the last 10 years and we aim to grow tenfold again. The most important thing is recruiting like minded people, and that is like looking for needles in haystacks, but when you do find them, and this includes clients, team and network partners – it’s a wonderous and beautiful thing! It's fundamentally focused on our number one value - Shared Success - it's all about partnerships. This has been a really interesting business model to sustain in the cut throat and hard core business that is logistics. I'm sure there's probably easier ways to make your money, but I have always enjoyed the egalitarian, the forthrightness, the simplicity and beauty of the completeness of our daily work.
You know when our job has been done well from the revenues from the happy customers from the complete deliveries. There is a beauty in its finiteness. And our Mission: how to build people's businesses on the back of our one stop logistics platform Despatchlab really sets us a cut above the rest of above a mere courier company. I’ve also always loved the fact that it's about building relationships have ongoing repeat business to in a service that lives and dies by its delivery. We really are the 5th emergency service.
As for the future if you think how much technology has shifted in the last 30 years, looking into the future is almost like the cartoon writers of the Jetson family in the 1950s thinking that's what our homes would look like now. Some bits of it would be so close to the truth like mobile technology and automatic cars, that it's almost spooky. And other details i.e. how we would live, what houses we live in, robots as home helpers and eating a pill instead of breakfast are so far away from reality it seems farcical.
If I think about logistics technology specifically, I remember the first time we were threatened by the fax in 1992 - thinking this would end all our deliveries if people could just fax a 50 page document! Then we had the development of email and ISDN. I sent my first email in 1996 and from the development of the power of the Internet we started losing a lot of work that was now sent electronically. We stayed alive pivoting our services to support the parts distribution to fix the hardware that was now running all our offices! In 1992 I remember writing out our invoices by hand! And now we have a multi million pound automated end to end technology system so to say things have changed understates it somewhat!
In terms of the future I think the development in drone technology is incredibly interesting. I think this will enable remote areas to be delivered to far more quickly. I know that conversations with Civil Aviation authorities have meant that in areas of dense urban conurbations ait based deliveries wont work, but particularly for remote areas - Channel Islands, Scottish Highlands, rural communities - I think drones will represent a useful delivery means. I also think this will bring some challenges in terms of border control and the control of prohibited goods including people and drugs. So the government will have a hand slightly more full than managing parties at Number 10 when they're facing real border challenges.
There has to be further automation/technology on global logistics that is still pretty basic – same for UK warehouses and pallet networks. I cant tell you how many warehouses still run their sites on excel spreadsheets - just doesn’t cut it in 2022.
As for Diamond's development for the future obviously as we finalise our initial development phases, we've got the app, further sales support for the network, and we launch Despatchlab as a white label software as a service to publishing, engineering and other logistics sectors this year.
Our network will continue to deliver locally and nationally with moves in to Europe I am sure at some point in the future. And we will be at the forefront of the move to same day fulfilment with out network of UK warehouses.
So exciting times for us and exciting times for you. Thanks for being part of the good ship Diamond. Long may we continue to sail on good seas."
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