Q&A: Alistair Cochrane, CEO, Whistl
Alistair started his career with TNT Express and spent 28 years becoming its Managing Director. He joined Whistl 4 years ago and became CEO at the start of last year.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I started my career with TNT Express and spent 28 years there rising the ranks to become Managing Director UK and Ireland. After a two year spell with Parcellforce as Director of Operations, I joined Whistl 4 years ago and became CEO at the start of last year. I’m not sure if that makes me a veteran, but I’m lucky enough to be part of an industry that has transformed beyond all recognition and is now the second largest employer in the UK after the NHS.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Whistl is the UK’s leading logistics company, uniquely placed to help businesses effectively manage their eCommerce supply chain. We have grown from a bulk mail business to market leading positions in mid-market multi-user warehouse fulfilment; business parcel brokerage, door drop and e-commerce sampling and downstream access mail.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
Due to our size and scale we can offer solutions to both large corporates and SMEs. We understand that every business is different, and it is our job to ensure that we can provide a service that meets their needs through good customer service, high efficiency and value for money. Our USP is our solutions led approach and that we are easy people to work with, this combined with the diversity of our product offering enables clients to use us for multiple services. Despite our size, we remain an entrepreneurial business and understand what a business, large or small, needs to do to be successful.
What advantage does it add?
We allow retailers to focus on what they know well which is their product and customer. We bring the expertise across the supply chain from customer acquisition to fulfilment to delivery management. A particular strength for SME retailers is our size and scale and our approach to ensuring that they can benefit from the economies of scale normally only available to large corporates. For example, in parcels, due to our brokerage model and simple to integrate technology, we can offer small volume retailers access to rates and services that would normally require a high daily volume threshold.
How does a product/service implementation look like and how do you measure success?
We measure our success on our customer being up and ready to trade through us as quickly as possible so that the benefits of working with us start hitting the bottom line. Depending on the service, we have dedicated onboarding teams to easily integrate our technology into their systems to make the process as simple and speedy as possible.
Are there other companies you partner with?
We own our supply chain from transport to warehouses to technology and we work with partners who deliver items to the consumer, final mile providers. We also work with technology partners to integrate our software into their systems.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in UK retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?
The main consumer challenge in 2023 will be the ability to spend on ecommerce goods due to the impact of higher utility and food costs. Operational costs will be higher due to wage inflation alongside higher other business running costs.
Supply chain stability will be influenced by the easing of lockdowns in China, port strikes, and the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. We are hopeful that these issues will have worked their way through the first half of the year, and we can look to a brighter second half.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
With these considerations in the background, there will continue to be a drive for increased efficiency whether in working methods or automation solutions. In addition, further progress will have to be made indeveloping strategies to achieve the government’s net zero commitment. Most tangibly we will see continued rollout of electric powered vehicles across the industry throughout 2023.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
Our priority is to grow our relationships with UK retailers, large and small, to enable them to benefit from our partnership approach that will help them to offer better customer service, greater efficiency and better prices to their consumers.
Any final thoughts?
The UK retail landscape is ever evolving and despite the current challenges will continue to change and adapt to meet the need of the consumer and we look forward to playing a key role through our fulfilment and parcel delivery services. Whistl has never been better positioned to assist both current and new customers to overcome many of the challenges that they are experiencing in their chosen markets and in doing so continue to develop new and innovative services to tackle future needs.
To find out how Whistl can help your retail operation, click here.
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