In a statement yesterday, John Lewis said that it would switch carriers during the strikes to avoid delays on its delivery services: "We have ensured that postal strikes don't affect our customers by switching the business to other carriers. We work with a number of different carriers for contingency to provide an uninterrupted service."

John Lewis was one of the first companies to implement MetaPack’s delivery management system and has been using it to send their parcels since 2004. One of the main functionalities of the software is multi carrier management which allocates, tracks and manages deliveries automatically across carriers all on one screen. A multi carrier approach means that the most can be gained by allocating parcel traffic against each carrier’s core competencies. However a multi carrier approach provides not only a business solution but a business contingency. If a carrier is unable to deliver, within MetaPack, you can simply amend the allocation rules to divert that traffic to an alternative carrier for as long as is required. As John Lewis explains, "we move parcels around our carrier network to use the most appropriate carrier, based on service, available capacity and price. If Royal Mail is striking we won't put any parcels through them. But if not and we have total confidence in them, we will do as per our normal strategy."

“Intermittent supply is a particular danger especially in the run up to peak, whether it is due to industrial action or capacity issues. Using MetaPack’s multi-carrier management system means you can immediately switch off a carrier service and divert parcels to an alternative carrier or easily add a new carrier with no integration. When the problems are over, you can simply switch the carrier back on. This not only ensures your delivery promise is met but also assists the carrier by not burdening them in a difficult time,” concludes Derek Weaver, Head of Operations at MetaPack.

Other retailers using MetaPack include Asos, House of Fraser, JD Sports and DGSi group which should all be well prepared to implement similar strategies.

Watch Patrick Wall, MetaPack CEO talk about carrier contingency on Channel 4 News:

Published on: 10:35AM on 14th October 2009