Foster Refrigerator and Gamko recently launched a game-changing free next day delivery service across their most popular products. FEJ quizzed European head of marketing Nick Bamber on how the ‘SOS’ service will save restaurants and bars from potential distress when they suddenly need new refrigeration equipment.
Foster Refrigerator & Gamko have launched a free next day delivery service across their most popular products. What were the main factors that prompted you to launch such a service in the UK?
We’re always looking for ways to help our customers and following extensive industry research we recently carried out, one of the main factors that led us to launching the free next day delivery service was seeing the significant level of disruption caused for caterers when a fridge was out of order. Breakdowns are impossible to predict, which means caterers aren’t able to plan for them.
Unfortunately, if a fridge breaks down, food will spoil, and the caterer will have to replace all lost produce which can be costly. Our next day delivery service was designed to help save on stress. Nowadays, we’re all used to ordering items online and getting them next day, so we’ve come to expect products to be delivered quickly in all situations.
All operators are looking closely at costs right now. Did this play a part in your thinking when it came to looking at how you could add value?
Our customers are increasingly coming to us looking for cost-effective, environmentally-friendly cooling solutions, so cost inevitably played a part in us looking at how we could add value. When people buy a Foster or Gamko product, they not only expect a differentiated product but also a differentiated level of service. In this instance, an increase in cost for us is simply a trade-off with a better customer experience, which is ultimately the most important thing to us.
The service provides obvious benefits for operators that need to replace a product quickly, and an item like refrigeration is particularly important given how quickly produce can go off. Is speed of replacement something that your customers have been pressing you for?
We pride ourselves on how closely we work with our customers to track changes in the market, and in doing so we found that speed of delivery was an issue across the industry. When your fridge stops working, you need a replacement as soon as possible. Food can spoil if it isn’t kept at the right temperature, and a restaurant without a fridge is a recipe for disaster. Offering a free next day service with SOS puts our fridges in the fast lane, helping alleviate the pain points of product availability and delivery cost.
The free next day service is for all orders before 12.30pm. Do you see a time when that cut-off will be extended to even later in the day or does that pose considerable logistical challenges?
As the service is still in its introductory stage, 12.30pm is our ‘guaranteed’ cut-off point. However, as time goes by we’ll look to accommodate later requests where viable, and so we’d encourage customers to get in touch whatever the time of their requirement and we’ll do everything possible to get their fridge to them on the free next day service. So far, the programme has already received an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers, so of course in the future we’ll look to continually improve our offering along with all other areas of our business.
What sort of changes internally have you had to make to be able to provide such a service to your customers? Has it required you to increase inventory levels of certain models?
In preparation for the SOS launch, there was a dedicated cross-functional project team assigned to deliver this programme, which ensured no stone was left unturned, including an extensive pilot scheme to test the process before launching to the market. We made sure that all Foster and Gamko products in stock were eligible for free next day delivery and, as a result of our research project, ringfenced additional stock of our most popular products to ensure we’re always able to deliver the right products on the SOS programme.
We adjusted our distribution process throughout 2018 in order to launch our free next day delivery service. In addition to this, other processes have been put in place to track the demand and increase availability as needed.
One of the main factors that led us to launching the free next day delivery service was seeing the significant level of disruption caused for caterers when a fridge was out of order”
The fact that the service is free is hugely significant. What sort of financial saving can operators expect to see from it?
When our customers opt for our next day delivery option, they receive a service that by industry standards would have previously cost upwards of £125, for free. The research we carried out showed that next day delivery prices for equipment such as commercial refrigerators varied significantly, if available at all. From the customer’s perspective this is certainly an unwanted expense, especially when they are in need of an emergency replacement.
To complement this free next day delivery service, we have also reduced the cost of our installation services, meaning Foster and Gamko will take responsibility for the full delivery and installation package at an incredibly attractive price.
What proportion of the Foster and Gamko ranges are eligible for the SOS service? Are there any plans to include more of the ranges to this service or is that not viable at this stage?
Currently, the SOS free 24-hour delivery is available across our most popular ranges, which include EcoPro G2, XTRA, Slimline, Blast Chillers, Maxiglass and much more. In other words, if we have it in stock, it’s available as part of the service. With that being said, larger modular products such as the coldrooms and modular blast chillers, which aren’t feasible to be part of the offer due to their bespoke nature, are not available for the SOS service.
We will continue to monitor growth of this service and if we see an increase in demand for products that are not currently available through SOS, we will add them. This comes as one of the advantages of being a British manufacturer. We’re in a great position to respond to high demand.
Key checks before calling SOS
With such a narrow timeframe between ordering and the delivery of a product via Foster and Gamko’s SOS service, the companies have put a handy video together to prompt customers to check the product dimensions and access the site.
Some of the important factors it covers include reminding customers that products with the same capacity could be a range of different shapes and sizes, and to check whether there are stairs, narrow corridors or tight corners. The video can be found on Foster’s SOS free next day delivery page at www.fosterrefrigerator.com/sos