change++ meets Big Data challenge and delivers successful solution to CollectPlus
Founded in 2009, CollectPlus is the UK’s largest independent store-based parcels service. It offers a simple and convenient way for people to collect online purchases from or return items to more than 300 high street and online retailers, including ASOS, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Very.co.uk – all at their local convenience store.
It is also possible to send parcels through CollectPlus’ network of 5,800 conveniently located parcel stores across the UK, nearly all of which are open early ‘til late, seven days a week. In June 2015, CollectPlus delivered its 50 millionth parcel.
For the CollectPlus Operations team, the capability to monitor service levels and understand any pinch points in a parcel’s journey is key to delivering a great customer experience. The journey of a parcel to or from one of CollectPlus’ 5800 stores, travelling through a network of more than 50 depots and 3 sortation centres generates tracking events at every stage of the journey. Information on the precise status of each parcel means CollectPlus can confirm service level agreements – the ‘delivery promise’ made to retailers and customers - are being met and allows them to provide insight at summary and detailed levels. With tens of thousands of parcels being processed daily, large data volumes are generated and CollectPlus needed an effective way of analysing this data. Operations and Service Director, Mark Lawrence, turned to change++ for a reporting solution.
The first step in the development of the solution was to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that would enable CollectPlus to measure operational effectiveness and report on success. After working in close collaboration with the Operations Team to develop a thorough understanding of the criteria for KPI achievement, change++ proposed the development of a sophisticated and highly flexible data warehouse that applied business rules and calculations to the large data sets collected from the parcel delivery service. Embedding the rules meant the critical information needed to run the business, especially from an operational perspective, could then be accessed easily and quickly to answer queries and deliver comprehensive reporting for retailers and their customers.
Core to the solution was IBM Cognos BI, the business analytics tool, and a Microsoft SQL Server database. change++’s Della Payne comments, “There are particular reporting challenges when working with large data sets and IBM Cognos has a range of capabilities that are designed to deliver speed of thought analytics over terrabytes of enterprise data. We took the time to fully understand the service levels CollectPlus has agreed with their clients and how important it is for them to be able to monitor and report performance on a daily basis. The solution we’ve delivered meets those needs and gives CollectPlus significant analysis capabilities.”
The reporting solution developed by change++ and CollectPlus has exceeded expectations and is now used across the CollectPlus business, not just by the Operations team. It is used for finance reporting, store performance monitoring and also by the marketing team as it allows them to easily build their own reports and complete ad hoc customer and parcel analysis. High level KPIs can be monitored but queries about the status of individual parcels can also be answered with complete confidence. The level of detailed analysis that has been made possible by the solution designed by change++ is such that previously undetectable trends and patterns in performance have been identified and actions taken to improve service at both client and customer level. This type of exception reporting is especially valuable as it can highlight where there is a problem, before it results in a service failure to a customer.
According to Mark Lawrence, “I don’t think we ever envisaged, when we originally sat down with change++ to work on our requirements, the level and value of insight we could gain from our data using IBM Cognos BI. We’re delighted with its capabilities and the actionable insight it has delivered.”