TECHKNOW: Net heads

TECHKNOW: Net heads - NAME: DAVID TAYLOR

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

NAME: DAVID TAYLOR

POSITION: HEAD OF HOME SHOPPING, THE POST OFFICE

WEB SITE: WWW.POSTOFFICE.CO.UK

Formerly its director of strategy, David Taylor now heads the Post Office's new home shopping unit. By making post offices nationwide collection points for web purchases, Taylor hopes to revolutionise what is currently one of the least satisfactory aspects of net shopping - home delivery. His task is to convince online shoppers that collecting goods from the local post office will be more convenient than having them delivered direct to their homes.

When did you become interested in the internet?

It was actually through my son. A few years ago, he set up his own e-business aimed at people who go on holiday and realise they have forgotten things they need. When he was setting it up, we sat down to work out how home shoppers receive their goods, and whether they are satisfied with the service they were getting.

How much time do you spend surfing each day?

I do most of my surfing in the evenings after I get home - probably about an hour every day.

Which sites do you use each week?

I use a lot of home-shopping sites - Amazon and the rest. I am particularly interested in seeing how long things take to arrive and what the experience is like. I recently used which.com to find a washing machine and tumble dryer. The dryer didn't arrive for ages, but it worked; the washing machine came quickly (although the delivery people were lucky I was in), but it didn't work. These are typical of the problems of home shopping.

Who are your advisers?

Our advisers are all in-house, and we use strategic Post Office managers to form strategic partnerships with e-tailers such as bigsave.com and superdrug.co.uk.

What is your company's web strategy?

To become an e-enabled business. Home shopping is currently the fourth most popular activity on the internet, and is predicted to become the second, but people are still put off because of delivery problems. So we are partnering with e-tailers to offer customers the option of using their local post office as a drop-off point when they order goods online.

It's much more flexible and convenient than home delivery. You can choose the post office near where you live or work, or where you are going to be on holiday next week. We charge the supplier a small handling fee on every package we process, but I believe most will absorb this cost rather than pass it on, because customers will be more satisfied with their shopping experience. In time, we will be able to offer a tracking facility like that of Parcel Force. You'll be able to order a CD, choose the post office you want to collect it from, and receive an e-mail when it arrives there.

What's your biggest gripe about the internet?

There's far too much hype surrounding the internet, and home shopping in particular. It's easy to lose sight of the fundamentals. What we've done is stand back and ask the simple question: 'Do customers really want to buy this way?'

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