Courier Case Histories
Since 1992 Colin Northway Associates has specialised in creating bespoke IT systems for the International Courier Industry. I am also involved in marketing, consultancy and stock control projects for several of my clients.
I have four clients in the Courier Industry, comprising three retail and one wholesale courier. You will see below a description of what each company required and why and how I created a bespoke system for each. No two courier companies are identical, or even alike. It is impossible to create a system that fits all potential users as it would result in solutions that do not completely meet their needs. Consequently my systems have been tailored to the specific requirements of the company concerned.
Please read through the case studies and you will see how working with Colin Northway Associates would help to improve the flexibility and profitability of your business.
My advertising and marketing backgrounds are heavily used by my Clients for:-
- Customer communication programmes
- Lead generation
Retail Courier Client A
When I first started to work with this Client their customer base heavily revolved around the Financial Print sector. The ultimate customers (banks and financial institutions), were sending financial offerings to vast mailing lists which contain large numbers of duplicate names.
The system was designed to enable the automatic import of data from clients, identify automatically the duplication, then remove it or consolidate the shipments depending on the requirement.
As this retail client ships all over the world, they use a large number of wholesale agents as well as the integrators, such as FedEx etc. Most of these agents require shipment manifest to be sent in electronic form so a wide variety of formats have to be created. In addition over 30 agents return POD data electronically, again using a vide variety of formats. Each shipment is given an expected due date and time of delivery and the system I designed had to be able to recognise shipments not delivered on time and flag them.
Over time this company opened a USA office. The next requirement was to adapt the system to the US market and to make the UK and London systems talk to each other, allowing data created in one country to be automatically transferred to the other.
Online bookings and Track & Trace systems were created for each country, the systems taking into account the particular requirements of each country. This worked seamlessly.
I also made the system capable of interfacing with FedEx, TNT, Citylink, DHL, and DPD in order to pull tracking data and insert it into the courier system.
I also developed a unique transport system for this Client. Transport collection requests are automatically sent to drivers who send an acknowledgement of the request and subsequently a “package on board” message. The Transport Controller can therefore tell what is happening with each collection in real time.
The whole package of development for this Client has resulted in them being able to run with a minimum of Customer Service and Operational staff - an important factor in today’s difficult business climate.
Retail Courier Client B
With a different mix of customers from Client A, the system had to be built in a totally different way. Here the emphasis was on creating tools for lead generation and follow up, complex quotation and pricing systems, mass import of data from customers and an online booking system where ranges of services available depended on what country the customer entered on the booking. A new requirement made it necessary to make the booking system operate with multiple logins per customer, enabling the person placing the booking to receive the confirmation at their own email address whilst still making it possible for all users to see what had been booked online. This feature was a particular selling point with customers who had staff scattered throughout large offices all wanting to make online bookings. Because this Client sold the benefits of online bookings it has a very high percentage of shipments which are booked this way, resulting in very small numbers of Data Entry staff required for the courier company.
I am currently creating a completely new automatic pricing system for this Client with discounts by customer possible by country and gateway, changeable pricing for service add-ons, such as 9am or Saturday (for example) also by customer.
Retail Courier Client C
This Client operates almost exclusively in the UK market with large numbers of shipments going overnight via Citylink. They also handle international shipments but the requirement was to automate the process of getting bookings onto the system and to provide a Track & Trace facility to all customers. This system had to be almost completely automatic with only relatively small numbers of shipments being booked manually by this company’s staff.
Many customers book online. Their shipments are automatically routed to the company’s Citylink machine which prints out the labels. As soon as these shipments are scanned at Citylink depots the tracking history for each shipment begins, and until the package is delivered, the Citylink website is automatically interrogated every 15 minutes for tracking updates.
A very simple concept, though difficult to implement at first, this system is one of my favourites and is a model for any small courier company which seeks to become more efficient and to have some of the customer facing tools, hitherto the prerogative of the larger companies.
Wholesale Courier Client A
This Client required a system which would interface with 2 offices in Europe. The input from the retail companies came in a large number of formats and each company in turn required PODs and tracking data in a wide variety of formats. Automatic pricing was a must.
The system is easy to use and easy to modify as new customers come on board.
All my computer systems are built to give my Clients exactly what they want from an IT system. They are built by someone who has vast experience in the Courier Industry
- Web Sites
- Web Booking and Track Trace systems
- Automatic import of customer shipping information via spreadsheets or text files
- Ability to spot duplication in customer shipping information resulting in consolidated
- Postal address correction covering UK, USA, Canada and many European countries
- Manifesting to Agents in any format they need
- Automatic processing of PODs from any Agent
- Automatic pricing
- Ability to interface with tracking systems of FedEx, DHL, Citylink and TNT
- Transport system - direct communication with drivers, and receiving driver
- acknowledgement of booking, POB (package on board) and PODs
- Reporting systems covering every aspect of courier, including delayed shipments, shipments already beyond planned due date and time, customer volumes etc
- All systems are capable of being modified at any time
- No per desk licensing
- 24/7 support