Michael Paul: Pack & Send CEO

Starting off with a single office in Parramatta, NSW, Pack & Send has evolved into a national delivery heavyweight that can draw on more than 100 service centres Australia-wide and was recognised as the Australian Franchisor of the Year in 2007 by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Franchise Council of Australia. Now also present in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, Pack & Send is considered a leading force in the transport franchise game. Prime Mover met founder Michael Paul, who has been serving as CEO of the company since its incorporation in February 1993.

Q: Pack & Send has been around for a while now. Is the 2016 business still comparable to the one 22 years ago – for example, is parcel delivery still the core of the business?
A: The Pack & Send business has changed tremendously since 1993. We started it before the notion of e-commerce, or even the Internet, was in the vernacular, so there has been a significant shift in the way we function. But our mission has always been the same – providing convenient access to a wide range of solutions when sending anything, anywhere.
The types of services we can offer are now more varied, though – from traditional domestic and international import and export work to more modern services, like supporting eBay and online retailers in delivering their products to customers.

Q: How did the parcel delivery industry change since the early days? With Toll IPEC, Star Track and emerging online services like Sendle on the scene, the competition must be fierce.
A: The parcel delivery industry has evolved with the times. For example, customers today expect that a fundamental requirement of parcel delivery services is an online ‘track and trace’ function that provides a real time delivery status.
When we started in 1993, no parcel carrier in Australia had that capability as the technology wasn’t yet in place. You had to phone the carrier to find out exactly where your parcel was – and you usually got a response the next day.
In the early days, deliveries were also primarily B2B and very few deliveries were made to households. The growth of e-commerce has changed that, with significantly more B2C deliveries.
In line with that, the competition has also changed – for example, where Pack & Send once relied either on customers walking in store or phoning us to send their goods, we are now developing new and innovative ways, such as online booking and integration with customer IT systems, to capture the market. The competition now keeps us on our toes and drives us to remain a competitive force in the market. Still, we remain the only couriering and logistics company that offers the customer the choice of booking services through a retail service centre, phone or online.

Q: Which role does the franchise model play in that context?
A: As far as competition goes, we’re in a unique position thanks to our business model. Franchising means that our staff are business owners who are personally and financially invested in the company. They are familiar faces in their communities, and that service is unparalleled. Bigger companies struggle to replicate our ‘no limits’ philosophy because they can’t offer the same level of personal service that Pack & Send can.
As a corporation, it means that we have enthusiastic people servicing customers who see their jobs as a lifestyle, and we want to keep it that way. We have always been a franchising operation and have relied on our franchisees to play a major role in our success, [and we] see this as being incredibly important to the long-term future of our business.

Q: As a technically minded, forward-thinking business, you still advocate physical points-of-presence. Why? What’s the advantage here?
A: The paradox in the logistics sector is that the more the world goes digital, the more valuable retail parcel centres are becoming to the supply chain. This is because physical points-of-presence are playing a big part in improving delivery services for e-commerce customers. Important e-commerce solutions like convenient product returns, alternate delivery points and convenient parcel drop-off points are all logistics services that are reliant on a national retail footprint.
Today’s customers also want more choice and more solutions. The big winners in the future will be those companies that provide more options and let their customers choose between higher-cost full service solutions and low-cost online self-service solutions (as circumstances dictate), all under one brand. That’s what Pack & Send offers with our multi-channel business model – and based on our strong sales growth, customers are very much on board with what we are doing.

Q: Other companies struggle maintaining a physical footprint in the online age. Why don’t you?
A: While it’s true that most people have been keen adopters of the Internet, there’s nothing like being able to walk into a store and have a conversation with someone. That’s why travel agencies like Flight Centre do so well – because they give customers the best of both worlds with in-store and online solutions. Pack & Send is like the Flight Centre of the logistics sector.

The full story has appeared in the new edition of Prime Mover – out now!

 

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