Harvey Nichols required a multi carrier shipping platform to provide a more efficient way to fulfill orders of smaller products, while at the same time improving the customer journey.
They previously used a premium next day delivery service which allowed them to take advantage of a fixed rate for every shipment.
However, this became expensive when used to ship smaller items such as lipstick or mascara. It also disrupted their customers’ journey, as someone had to wait in for deliveries as they needed to be signed for and if no-one was there, the delivery would be delayed for 2-3 days as it would have to be redelivered.
After considering a number of different platforms, Consignor was chosen.
Since Harvey Nichols first opened in Knightsbridge in 1831, it has led the way in sourcing the most desirable and cutting-edge designer brands.
Recognised as one of the UK’s premier luxury fashion retailers, Harvey Nichols is internationally renowned for its expertly edited fashion and beauty merchandise, premium food and wine offer and award-winning restaurant.
Unsuitable delivery service
As Harvey Nichols were launching a new product (Fenty by Rihanna,) they realized because of its lower price point, they needed a more cost effective delivery method for shipping these type of items to their customers.
They were previously using a premium next day delivery service for all parcel sizes. However, it soon became clear this wasn’t suitable: “The size of the product lended itself to a letter rather than a parcel sized product,” explains James Henry, Head of Multichannel Operations at Harvey Nichols.
“The next day delivery service was great as it was a flat rate no matter what size of parcel we send. But when you’re sending a mascara or a lipstick by itself, sending that on a next day parcel service is not optimal because you have to be in to sign it. This means some of our customers were missing these deliveries, causing them 2-3 day delays to receive their order,” he added.
This also lead to increased costs: “Because the average selling price of those items is fairly low and a high percentage of the actual total order value is delivery costs, it was starting to eat away at our profit margins, especially when you include subsidized deliveries,” James said.
Implemented in a third of the time
It became clear that not only was an alternate delivery service required, but also having a shipping solution that could automate carrier allocation based on different product dimensions was crucial.
After assessing different vendors and following a formal procurement process, the Consignor solution was chosen.
The platform’s greater level of functionality was a key factor in their decision. But more importantly the speed in which Consignor could be implemented was much quicker compared to its competitors.
“We wanted the platform implemented as soon as possible because we had launched Fenty and were already shipping it.
“Consignor was able to offer implementation in a third of the time quoted compared to its competitors. The number of carrier integrations they could offer was also much higher as well,” James said.
Automated carrier allocation
Harvey Nichols now has access to many more carrier services for shipping smaller products: “By leveraging Consignor, if the item is below a certain size, if it fits in the envelope-sized packaging, we can then send it on a next day track to letterbox service.
“That means if it goes straight into somebody’s letterbox, there’s no need to wait in for the delivery. There’s no, “Oh, I’ve missed my delivery. Come back three days later.” So it has allowed us to create a better experience for our customers,” James said.
Using Consignor has also meant they can utilize their own product data to automate carrier allocation: “With Consignor we can utilize product data, including the weight, size, packaging being used and value of the item to automate the selection of the carrier that best meets the needs of our customers,” he added.
Ship from store
Besides their distribution centers, Harvey Nichols also ships products directly from their stores.
Previously, they used the same premium next day delivery service to send items back to the DC so they could then be shipped to customers.
However this didn’t provide the flexibility they required: “We were picking all items at the store, sending them back to the DC where they’re packed overnight and shipped the next day. This caused delays delivering orders to our customers.
“But with Consignor, for the smaller items we can pick straightaway, pack in store and ship to customers much quicker because we can split the orders between what needs to go to the DC to be packed and what’s held and processed in store,” James said.
Positive return on investment (ROI)
The ROI from using Consignor was almost immediate: “The payback from the initial project costs was less than six months.
“And with approximately 20-30% of our parcel volume now via the new letterbox service, we have seen substantial savings that wouldn’t have been possible without Consignor,” said James.
Consignor’s support team has ensured there have been no major issues: “The support team has been very responsive. When our carrier makes changes to their interface (which means it goes down,) they have made sure we’re not impacted.”
Due to the success of the partnership, Harvey Nichols are looking at more ways in which they can utilize the Consignor platform.
“We’re currently looking at adding additional carriers to further improve the customer journey and lower our costs.
“We’re also looking at improving our returns journey to see how we can automate it with the production of returns labels rather than the pre-printed labels we use currently. We would also like to track returns through Consignor as well,” said James.
"The payback from the initial project costs was less than six months. And with approximately 20-30% of our parcel volume now via the new letterbox service, we have seen substantial savings that wouldn’t have been possible without Consignor."
James Henry, Head of Multichannel Operations at Harvey Nichols
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