July/August/September 2020

Helping independent businesses adapt to new shopping habits

A Manchester haulier is supporting the survival of local businesses by helping firms adapt to selling online. Harbour Freight has assisted independent retailers with setting up a delivery method to reach customers nationwide during the COVID-19 lockdown. The move has enabled local businesses to sell to some of the 89% of UK consumers who have turned to online shopping during the UK lockdown, according to research from Visa, and scale up or down to meet demand. The firm is now ready to support businesses kickstarting operations following the easing of lockdown restrictions and looking for ways to reduce their business costs while accommodating fluctuating sales.

The company is a shareholder member of Pall-Ex – a pallet network of SME haulage firms which operate independently, but work together to deliver freight throughout the UK and Europe, and provide a cost-effective delivery model. Steve Swinburn, Managing Director at Harbour Freight, comments: “We’ve been helping local businesses navigate the difficulties of lockdown; these are firms that had to close their doors and find new ways of reaching their customers. The combination of an online sales platform and a reliable haulage solution has enabled them to become national businesses and tap into the growth in ecommerce purchases all within a matter of weeks.

“As more and more firms return from lockdown, we believe palletised haulage is the cost-effective solution they need to help their businesses adapt to new customer shopping habits and we hope that we can support other industries as they get back on their feet. Our model is built around the movement of fluctuating volumes and reduced miles, so it has provided the flexibility companies have needed throughout the coronavirus crisis and will continue to need as they build themselves back up.”

As 41% of shoppers are buying online more frequently and 74% of those will continue to do so in the future, with DIY supplies and furniture top of the shopping list, local businesses need to find reliable methods to reach larger audiences. Steve adds: “We’ve been surprised by how demand for services has changed in recent weeks, with a noticeable increase in deliveries from businesses to customers. Our recent investments in IT for customer deliveries enables us to provide the tracking and visibility technology they expect on goods they order online, which had previously been missing from the palletised freight sector.

“Visit harbourfreight.co.uk for a tailored pallet delivery quote or visit www.pallex.co.uk to find out more about the network. Pall-Ex Group is an award-winning network of hauliers formed in 1996 and is the only pallet network owned by its members and UK senior management team. 

“As the No.1 network for quality, Pall-Ex is a renowned name in logistics, delivering an efficient and reliable service backed by innovative technology and a first-class network of established SMEs. With its headquarters and central UK hub located in the Midlands,
Pall-Ex is right at the heart of the logistics industry, transporting thousands of pallets across the globe every day with support from its carefully selected international partners.”