Next is to extend its Platform Plus service to 40 additional clients this year. Platform Plus allows Next to sell items stocked in its clients’ warehouses to customers on a two-day delivery promise.
Through the platform items are collected daily from partners’ warehouses, consolidated with other items in the same order, and delivered through Next’s own delivery network, enabling the retailer to take end-to-end ownership of the delivery service.
Last year the Platform Plus service was extended to an additional 60 client brands, adding 30,000 items to the website. The company also extended the functionality of Platform Plus to enable it to predict future sales and pre-emptively order non-stocked items.
“In this way Platform Plus begins to tailor our offer to meet future demand,” Next said in its full-year results presentation this week. “This development opens up the possibility of working on very thin initial stock levels for higher priced products; a development we think may be important for our ability to attract more premium clients to our website.”
The company has also developed NEXT-Direct-Dispatch (NDD), a service that allows items to be delivered from clients’ warehouses through NEXT’s nominated two-man carrier service. 20% of the company’s large direct dispatch items now travel through NDD and Next aims to increase this to 90% in the year ahead.
Previously large items such as furniture have been dispatched from partners’ warehouses directly. Next said that using NND helps the company to better control service and reduce delivery costs. To date 353 third party brands sell through Platform Plus or Direct Despatch.
Next is also continuing to invest in the development of its new, highly automated boxed warehouse Elmsall 3, which is due to open towards the end of 2023. It will deliver an estimated increase in boxed capacity of 45%, with marginal labour cost per unit around 40% lower than the equivalent cost today.