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First time, on time

November 30, 2011

Hermes enterprise mobility solution enables 94 percent first time, on time, delivery – beating the industry average by 11 percent


Hermes is the UK’s largest delivery network, handling over 115 million collections and deliveries each year. It offers its customers, which include household names such as Lakeland, Lands’ End, Next Directory, QVC, sit-up channels and Store Twenty One, a dedicated business-to-consumer residential delivery solution, specifically designed to meet the demands of the UK and European retail, mail order and online shopping markets.

Hermes operates a network of over 7,500 lifestyle couriers who operate close to their homes, enabling them to offer a high-quality door-step delivery, combined with a friendly and local approach.

Over the past several years Hermes has experienced considerable growth, with expansion into European delivery, and the consumer-to-consumer market through, which offers a door-to-door parcel delivery service that is ideal for consumers who would like to save time and money on their shipping costs.

The challenge
With a growing number of customers demanding timely and accurate information on deliveries and collections, Hermes realised that it needed to replace its existing paper-based delivery system with an enterprise mobility solution that would provide real-time visibility of its couriers as well as of the status of deliveries and collections. In order to ensure that its customers could access this data quickly and easily it needed to be available on the Hermes website.

“We realised that the existing paper-based system was not providing us with the information our customers were demanding,” explained Mike Leyland, Hermes’ IT director. “Waiting for paper records of collections and deliveries to be returned to local depots and then manually input into our back-office systems could be a lengthy process, and was prone to human error from illegible handwriting. We could not track and trace parcels during the actual collection or delivery process, which made it difficult to provide accurate confirmation of collections and deliveries to our customers.”

Hermes also wanted a solution that would help meet its strategic objectives to enhance the speed of tracking and management information, at the same time as providing a platform that would enable the company to drive future revenues though additional services and add value to those services already offered.

The solution
To ensure that it selected an enterprise mobility solution that best fit its specific mobility requirements, Hermes conducted a competitive trial with two market leading consortiums.

After a six-week trial with 200 couriers, Hermes selected Blackbay to deliver its Delivery Connect real-time mobile worker management software, to be deployed on Intermec’s CN3 rugged hand-held mobile computers, which would be issued to the Hermes courier and The Barcode Warehouse to provide a managed service covering all aspects of the integrated mobility solution. The three companies successfully demonstrated that their integrated solution delivered a reliable and scalable solution that had performed well during the trial.

Additionally Hermes recognised that Blackbay’s extensive enterprise mobility industry knowledge, coupled with its proven experience in the courier marketplace, would be invaluable in helping Hermes to develop a mobility solution to meet the on-going demands of its customers and the marketplace.

Blackbay’s Delivery Connect is a key component of the integrated mobility solution. Its mobile worker software delivers electronic manifesting, barcode scanning, proof of delivery, and exception management. Delivery Connect running on Intermec’s CN3, with its GPRS capability, enables constant communication between the couriers in the field and the Hermes call centre. The solution delivers full track-and-trace capability throughout the whole delivery and/or collection process. As soon as the Hermes courier logs on to the CN3 an electronic manifest is downloaded listing the deliveries to be made. The courier then goes to the nearest Hermes depot and receipt scans the parcels on the relevant manifest on to his/her car or van. By scanning each parcel the courier is able to check that all the parcels for delivery have been loaded. The parcels scanned then appear as ‘out for delivery’ on the Hermes website.

On arrival at the delivery destination and if the recipient is available, the appropriate parcel is scanned as being delivered and proof of delivery is obtained via an electronic signature on the CN3’s screen (sign on glass). This proof-of-delivery signature is immediately viewable on the Hermes tracking website.

If the recipient is not available the courier will use the CN3 to access information as to whether the parcel is to be left in a safe place or with a neighbour. When the appropriate action has been taken the courier will leave a card for the recipient confirming that the relevant instructions have been carried out. The courier will complete the delivery details on the CN3 for transmission to the Hermes back-office systems. These details also appear on the Hermes website.

Scheduled collections can be made from customers. The parcel will be collected from the customer and scanned as proof of collection. If a collection is made from a safe place, then the courier will complete the collection details on the CN3. In both scenarios the data is sent to the Hermes back office and appears on the website. Collected parcels are again scanned when they arrive at the Hermes depot for onward shipment.

In the case of an unplanned collection, the Courier or sender completes a label, which is affixed to the parcel and then scanned.

“The solution provides us with complete track-and-trace capability. Hermes, our customers and our customers’ customers can at any time see exactly where a parcel is within the delivery or collection process simply by accessing our website,” continues Leyland.

“Hermes has always had a strong focus on quality and reliability in the market, and Intermec is really pleased to be able to support them in this process,” says Martyn Broadhead UK and Ireland country manager at Intermec. “A key to business processes efficiency is in your workforce being fully connected to your internal systems 24 hours a day. At Intermec we aim to support this with easy-to-use rugged mobile computers together with seamless integration.”

What is the ROI?
The solution is already demonstrating its scalability and reliability by supporting over 500,000 items tracked per day. Crucially Delivery Connect and Hermes other IT initiatives have enabled Hermes to beat the industry standard by delivering 94 percent of parcels first time, on time. This result is a key factor in helping Hermes to ensure that it offers the highest level of services to its customers.

Jon Tobbell, Hermes’ commercial director, says, “Failed deliveries are costly to the retail sector and the consumer and pose a considerable risk to the profitability of an organisation. We are committed to working closely with our customers to continually improve our first-time delivery rates so as to avoid this unnecessary expense.

“Since deployment of the solution we have secured the largest ever UK home delivery contract with Next Directory. We have been working with Next since 1988 and have secured a new eight-year contract under which we will continue to fulfil its delivery requirements. By extending our contract until 2018, Next has shown the high level of faith they have in Hermes and our ability to continue to provide them with a market leading service that provides excellent value for money,” commented Leyland.

Hermes’ track-and-trace capability has also played a role in adding the fashion retailer Story Twenty One, and leading TV home shopping retailer sit-up channels to its list of customers.

Delivery Connect delivers full visibility across Hermes’ entire delivery and collection operation and provides comprehensive management information (MI) reporting. These MI reports, which include data on speed of service, undelivered parcel analysis, enquiries, claims and pre-advice reporting, have been developed to meet all of Hermes’ customers’ requirements and, crucially, the requirements of its customers’ customers. Accurate MI reporting helps Hermes to enhance its customer service even further.

The reaction from the field has been excellent. Despite the varying levels of IT knowledge among the Hermes couriers, the intuitive user interface of the Intermec CN3 and workflow of Blackbay’s Delivery Connect, combined with an interactive training approach adopted by Hermes and led by The Barcode Warehouse, ensured that the Hermes couriers were able to adopt the solution quickly. They have commented on its ease of use and the improvement in the time taken to deliver and collect parcels, which has resulted in approximately 50 minutes saved per courier, per day.

“The CN3 is one of the most advanced and rugged mobile computers globally, and our continued investment in scanning technology allows our customers to beat industry standards in field services, as demonstrated by Hermes,” continues Broadhead. “Partnering with companies such as Blackbay and The Barcode Warehouse enables us to deliver a complete solution to Hermes, which provides the right quality of customer services and value for money.”

The reaction from Hermes’ customers has been extremely positive. The availability of delivery and collection data on the Hermes website means that all customers can now track their goods in real time.

“We are fast becoming the partner of choice for online retailers because they recognise the value Hermes can bring to their e-commerce operations. Our courier network approach makes parcel delivery easy and accessible, contributing to a positive retail experience for the consumer,” concludes Leyland.

November 30, 2011


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