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Wednesday 26 July 2017

We came, we saw, we asked the questions

If you build it, they will come.

Late last year when An Post first unveiled Post Logistics at a conference in Croke Park their Director of Mail Operations Liam O’Sullivan commented on how special it was to be in Ireland’s own Field of Dreams. That famous line from the movie of the same name quickly followed "if you build it they will come".

In the movie, Kevin Costner’s character was driven by an impulse to build a baseball field. An impulse driven by the whispered message "if you build it they will come".

Of course that’s not quite how it works in business. No whispered exhortation will fuel a start-up. In this case how could An Post be sure that if they built their Post Logistics service that customers would heed our call and use the new service.

So this is what was known. An Post have an unrivalled logistics network, a highly trusted brand and a proven track record in getting letters and parcels domestically and internationally to their destinations securely and on time. They currently handle over two and a half million items every day, which is a hell of a lot of logistics experience.

But they still could not be sure that their capability, matched by their drive to carve out new business, would be enough to attract new customers confident enough to use a new service.

Even more important was that however much they knew, they had little experience of international freight.

They started with a hunch but then developed that through research. They examined the market, spoke to prospective customers, and developed what we believe is a pretty strong business case for Post Logistics. An Post actually asked the market what it needed and then worked out how to meet that demand. In many ways it was the customers who shaped what Post Logistics is all about.

What prospective customers wanted was reliability, simplicity, speed and value, all attributes we were well geared to match as An Post built Post Logistics.

And what they built was an impressive high-quality, reliable, standardised freight forwarding and groupage service for SMEs exporting to the UK and Europe.

It is a formula that they have followed time and time again with the launch of such services at DeliveryBox, AddressPal and in November with Post Logistics. It is a great position to be in as they match existing skills and capacity to a changing future. They heed what they heard, built in response and worked like hell to make it a success.

Liam O’Sullivan’s view is that it all comes down to just five words ‘Research, and then more Research’. "Ask the questions, ask your prospective customers, test the waters and heed what you learn. Be armed by the confidence of what you can achieve but be guided by the information you have gleaned."

"You will still have to make a brave punt but at least not into the totally unknown."

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