As the online shopping boom has evolved, companies providing ad hoc deliveries have expanded quickly. However, this growth may have come at a price.
A probe by the Guardian into parcel company Hermes underlines the impact of the ‘gig economy’ on workers across several industries.
The paper’s investigation suggests that workers were, on occasion, effectively working for less than the national living wage. As couriers are ‘self-employed’ they have no sick pay and no holidays. Furthermore, running costs such as petrol are their responsibility.
This method of doing business – essentially ad hoc franchising – has been replicated in other industries. The most notable examples are cab firm Uber and also food delivery service Deliveroo.
The benefits of this approach to the parent company are obvious – they reduce their overheads dramatically – and to an extent it also allows employees greater freedom and increased choice. But what impact does it have on a brand’s perception?
YouGov BrandIndex data indicates that the recent negative headlines surrounding Hermes have damaged the organisation’s brand health.
Its Recommend Metric (whether a respondent would recommend the brand to someone else) shows it has decreased by seven points since the end of June and the brand now has a negative score for the first time this calendar year.
Hermes’ overall Impression score has also declined markedly, and is now six points lower than it was at the start of July. If there is a sliver of comfort for the brand, it is that it is still rated above its competitor Yodel, which has an Impression score of -10.
There is a wider issue of the clash between workers feeling that they are in insecure and unstable employment and consumers wanting their parcels arrive earlier and at a lower price.
Some consumers may well be troubled to find that some of their high street favourites use companies that are perceived to treat their workers unfairly. But unless customers are prepared to pay more for packages, it is likely that strain will continue to be put on delivery drivers.