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SB meets… Kate Lester, Diamond Logistics

The CEO of UK-based Diamond Logistics tells us about the challenges facing the packaging industry and the importance of sustainability.

Kate Lester, CEO of Diamond Logistics
Kate Lester, CEO of Diamond Logistics

What are the origins of Diamond Logistics?

I started Diamond Logistics in 1992 as a business which specialised in same day courier delivery. We joined the e-commerce space in 2012, and have since established ourselves as the SME’s [small and medium-sized enterprises] choice for personalised e-commerce solutions for people servicing multiple marketplaces and consumers.

Our logistics platform Despatch Lab – which we designed ourselves – gives unparalleled transparency of supply chain, from goods-in to end delivery. It also integrates with all the major marketplaces including Amazon, Ebay and Shopify.

We have a nationwide network of couriers which ensure parcels get where they are needed, and that network is growing all the time.

How did the pandemic affect the company? 

Initially we were about 40%-70% up dependant on sector. It’s calmed down a bit, but for drinks brands, that increase has been sustained. We think this year’s peak (Black Friday and Christmas) will be a big one.

There have been some supply challenges. One was with our consumables (i.e. packaging) but we also saw some clients struggle to quickly replenish stock at the pace of demand, which in all honesty has been due to a combination of the pandemic, Brexit and the Suez Canal blockage.

We have overcome these challenges by encouraging the holding of more stock. Finding warehouse space has become more difficult too, as e-commerce continues to expand.

What services do you offer for the spirits sector?

A whole outsource solution to multi-marketplace fulfilment. Whether you are selling from your own site, on Amazon or fulfilling into retail stores, we can combine our skill set to do it all for you.

It’s really for people who don’t want to run a warehouse – who want to concentrate on the product sourcing and marketing instead – the fun bits.

We can consult on packaging, provide bespoke pick and pack (including specialist packs, for example, Sacred Gin’s Bloody Mary Kit), and of course despatch using the best carriers and couriers (delivering same day in some instances) locally, nationally and globally.

It’s all managed on one easy-to-use client interface, Despatch Lab, which gives real-time transparency of stock, picks, packs and deliveries. We add to that proactive exception management, so we know if something has been mis-delivered or gone missing and act to remedy it to improve our clients’ customers’ buying experience.

What spirits brands have you worked with in the past? How did the company support these brands? 

Sacred Gin, CBA Gin, Yabba Beer and London Vermouth. We have supported these drinks brands in establishing a multimodal fulfilment strategy.

We supported clients as they pivoted from retail stores at the start of the pandemic (Sacred Gin was only selling via high-end department stores for example) to online very successfully. We also supported the launch of new brands (in the instance of London Vermouth, CBA Gin and Yabba Beer).

We are flexible enough to work with start-ups as well as scale up – scale up is our forté.

In addition to despatching goods the company supports these brands by discussing business plans, integrations, packaging and customer experience. We add value with our in-house expertise, based on a collective skill set of hundreds of years of experience.

What packaging options do you provide for the spirits industry? 

When it comes to packaging Diamond offers the best products in the industry: Flexi-Hex – a honeycomb paper-based product, inflatable bag option Air Sac, and pulp inserts to hold the products in place. We are very adaptable and work closely with our clients to design the best packaging that works for their brand.

Whether it be bespoke print, additional elements like flyers, marketing material and gift packaging, we have a packaging specialist who is at hand to support. We welcome the challenge to do something different as packaging is such an important part of the customer experience.

How important is sustainability in packaging?

Sustainable packaging is always at the forefront of our conversations when speaking with clients. Reinforced water-activated tape, paper protection and paper void fill are what we recommend. We review our packaging on a regular basis to ensure we are up to date with the latest eco-friendly products and continue to reduce the amount of plastic used at all of our sites.

How important is innovation to the company?

Incredibly important. Without our investment in our technology platform we wouldn’t be able to deliver such a quality client experience. It’s really important that this innovation is matched with pragmatic logistical application, this is where Diamond holds a unique position of experience twinned with innovation. It adds value rather than being tech for tech’s sake.

Has Brexit affected the company?

Yes, it’s eliminated the UK’s position as being a centralised site for European distribution. So, we have become more domestically oriented. However as the dust settles, as people become more familiar with the new trade rules and as new trade agreements are reached, we are seeing an uplift in enquires from our future global clients.

What are you working on at the moment? 

We have just started our co-promotional activities, promoting our most popular spirits brands.

We are also working towards peak with lots of our clients planning multipack boxes (complete cocktail kits etc). We are also looking into sustainable memorable packing, for example, boxes which are so nice they are kept or reused by our clients’ customers, which can further promote brand recognition.

What are your plans for Diamond Logistics in 2021? What are the company’s priorities?

Expand our offering. We’re planning two more alcohol licensed sites, more integration with other platforms (including Linnworks) and expanding our same day offering for clients such as Drop Wine. And of course, have more Diamond cocktail hours and try more clients’ recipes.

To find out more about successful fulfilment, download Diamond Logistics’ Future of Retail Report 2021.

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