NotLost: What once was lost can now be found

London-based lost and found management solution NotLost is set to transform the way the industry reunites passengers with their belongings

How many possessions do you think the average person loses in their lifetime? Apparently, it’s 3,000. According to research, missing items include 192 pieces of clothing, 64 umbrellas and a staggering 384 pens. On Transport for London’s (TfL) network, as many as 1,200 items that arrive at TfL’s lost property office each day – that’s 438,000 belongings in a year, just for TfL alone.

Now imagine being the person who has to look through hundreds of thousands of items just to find that umbrella your passenger left on the number 19 from Piccadilly Circus.

There is an easier way

Established in London two years ago, NotLost has set its sights on transforming the lost property world.

Have you ever walked down the street, found something someone has dropped and moved it to a wall next to where it was lost?

It’s this exact scenario which led to one of the firm’s co-founders feeling inspired to find a better solution for managing lost items.

How it works

The coach and bus industry has been driven by paper: Paper tickets, paper walk-round checks and paper spreadsheets for data such as scheduling. But it is also an industry at the forefront of technological advances; walk-round checks can now be inputted digitally, you can now pay contactless for tickets and things like scheduling has also been digitised.

Now NotLost is hoping to revolutionise the lost-property world.

“We believe there are around 65m items going missing each year in the UK and only 5% of those are ever returned,” says Rory Cole, Head of Business Development.

“It is a time-consuming process looking through lost property and can be a real drain on staff time.”

There are three simple steps in total:

  • Register

Register found items in under 10 seconds. Simply take a photo using a smart phone or tablet and innovative image recognition software will create a full-item report for you. The system generates unique reference numbers that can be used to tag and store items.

  • Respond

Reduce time spent handling lost property by up to 80%. Designated staff can access the system and handle enquiries quickly and accurately; they can search across system using dates, locations and keywords. You can also integrate a personalised lost report form onto your website for customers to fill out 24/7

  • Return

Simple lost/found matching and better process helps to return more items (35% on average), with options for collection and postal returns. You can also generate an invoice directly from the platform to cover postage/handling costs.

When it comes to disposing of unclaimed items, the system will help you make data-driven decisions about how long to store lost property. NotLost will also help you improve sustainability by providing detailed item handling policies and connecting you with its various ethical recycling partners.

Who’s using it

NotLost is not defined to a single market; things get lost in every industry. The business is working from smaller businesses, such as nightclubs, to larger venues and attractions. Clients include: The O2, Alton Towers, AEG Presents, UCL, Westfield and Eurostar.

The firm has also broken into the coach and bus industry with Go-Ahead Group-owned Oxford Bus Company being the first operator to sign up to the system.

Oxford Bus Company operates a fleet of over 260 vehicles, completing 23 million passenger journeys per year.

“The customer service team were overwhelmed, handling over 8,000 items and 10,800 lost property enquiries each year,” NotLost reveals.

“It was described as the ‘worst part of the job’ by staff and was also the most common reason for inbound customer calls.

“Oxford Bus’ ambition was to modernise and streamline the process, while also enabling some additional functionality to improve the customer journey.”

Rory says: “The nature of lost property is often a burden for businesses and customers, so people aren’t really used to getting a positive lost property experience.

“What we’re trying to do, and what we think we are some way down the road to doing, is changing the perception around this.

“There is an easy and efficient way to do this. You can get this stuff back to your passengers. And what we find is a small process change can go really long way.”

Adds Oxford Bus Company’s Head of Customer Experience: “Managing lost property across a large fleet which is always moving can be challenging at the best of times. NotLost simplifies that job and frees up our colleagues to get on with value-adding work.”

Future ambitions

Rory says: “In five years’ time, we want to see NotLost being a household name as the global solution for lost property management – that’s where we see ourselves heading.

“We’re growing quite quickly which is exciting. We’re growing into not only the coach and bus industry, but rail companies, music arenas, shopping centres, theme parks and festivals, and we want to continue that.

“We want to be the go-to for lost property.”

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