July 12, 2018 – One Birdcage Walk, London

At the start of the session attendees identified and captured their expectations of the UAG session. Responses varied depending on how familiar they were with MetaPack, but the following key themes emerged:

  • Understand what problems other shippers are experiencing in meeting the consumer delivery promise
  • How to use data to arrive at models that can predict package delivery
  • Existing solutions that others are using to solve such problems?
  • What is MetaPack doing in this space?

Attendee expectations from the UAG

  • Understand market issues around parcel delivery predictability
  • Direction the market is taking in regard to delivery prediction based on feedback from the UAG
  • What are MetaPack working on in the area of data?
  • What solutions are there to improve accuracy of carrier data; the direction to take to improve this (utilising carrier APIs?); solutions for data latency
  • Understand the challenges experienced in the market by similar retailers
    • the data sources they use and solutions to common problems
  • Market knowledge from understanding the challenges experienced in the market
  • An opportunity to learn more about the full MetaPack product portfolio

What is delivery intelligence to you?

The key themes and items attendees felt defined Delivery Intelligence are as follows:

  • Greater visibility
    • Visualisations
    • Information
    • Understanding where my deliveries are
    • Drilling into key markets for business strategy
    • Warehouse (delivery) to warehouse (returns) data
    • Real-time communications (Lower latency for receipt of tracking events
  • Insight and problem solving (Exception reporting)
    • Surfacing data to solve business problems
    • Being able to reroute before an issue or blockage occurs
    • Checking shipments have left the DC
    • Modelling eComms specific processes like:
      • 1st time delivery attempt
      • PuDo
      • Inflight changes
    • Using data to achieve delivery promises
  • Cut off time reporting to optimise how to allow more time for pick operations and still meet delivery windows
    • Maximising the delivery promise
    • More structured reports around delivery failures/exceeded
  • Strategy/Leading the demands for the future
    • Intelligent insight for use in forecasting where the market is headed
    • Benchmarking an individual shipper’s performance versus what the market is achieving/expecting
  • A Tool to optimise cost savings
  • Performance reporting
    • Tracking data latency reporting
    • Carrier delivery SLAs
    • Managing carrier SLAs and facilitating reviews
    • Live tracking data updates
    • Measuring delivery success vs failures
      • Provision and utilisation of a data model or analytics cube or systemised data
    • Used for machine learning to communicate and advise changes
    • Removal and separation of humans to manage exceptions

Exception Reporting

The following points were raised about exception reporting:

How are shippers currently approaching exception reporting to flag shipments at risk of not meeting the delivery promise?

  • Exception reporting is heavily based on alerting or reacting to carrier tracking events
  • Of the carriers that handle this well, most provide carrier portals which give alerts on packages that require intervention and allow communication between the carrier’s customer service team and the shipper.
    • Some of these portals are updated in real time, hourly or even daily.
    • Some carrier which do not have these carrier portals may perform similar functions over email
  • A useful type of exception currently used is a report from the carrier to show despatched packages without a carrier pickup scan with a set number of hour. This usually highlights operational failures early, so that corrective action can be taken at the start of the customer delivery journey rather than at the end of the delivery window
  • A useful type of exception reporting currently used is based on the 3rd or final hub scan before the package goes out for delivery. When the package leaves the final hub the shipper often has an idea of the delivery lead time for the last leg, making it possible to gauge delivery failure in the absence of a delivered scan event with a set number of hours

Things shippers would like to see in exception reporting:

  • Push notification and alerts indicating an issue has occurred rather than the shipper finding out from a report (email is an acceptable channel)
  • Predictive capabilities – move away from advertised service levels and using data from the market, as well as the shipper’s previous shipments to work out the likelihood of successful delivery and transit times
  • Separate and differentiation of carrier exceptions with delivery and brand exceptions. This refers to when there is an issue; there are differences in the type determining whether the carrier should contact the recipient directly or the shipper to manage the issue at a brand’ level.

Current issues negatively impacting the customer’s delivery experience:

  • Customs clearance
    • Losing attached paper copies from the package
    • Paperwork/documentation completion where the warehouse doesn’t have all the details
    • Values for customs clearance such as commercial sale and build prices – these values are not held within shared platforms such as MetaPack DM due to security concerns of the shared platform and result in the shipper creating documents manually outside of MetaPack systems)
  • Service level reporting
    • SLA reporting generally solely comes from the carrier with their definition of performance, which doesn’t align with the shipper’s view
    • A carrier will only share the shippers SLA data with them, so the shipper has no means of benchmarking low SLA performance
    • When selecting a carrier and using their service within a country, the shipper would like to understand the actual transit times received rather than the advertised service level. For example, a shipment to Russia maybe advertised as 2 days, but in most cases when shipping to Moscow customs typically hold the package for 48 hours, making the overall shipping time closer to 5 days.
    • Shippers need to understand delivery performance and transit times not on a country level with greater granularity such as postcode or region, in order to manage the expectations of the delivery promise
    • Shippers would like MetaPack to assist them with benchmarking and working with other retailers, to highlight poor carrier performance in certain countries or regional blackspots
  • Data Quality related issues
    • Carriers seem to operate differently with some reporting in local times and others in origin time. It would be helpful to collate tracking data and represent this in one single time zone
    • Shippers are aware there can be data latency issues, but don’t have a view on the size of the problem as there is no other source other than what the carrier reports for this data
    • Shippers would like MetaPack to implement a data cleansing or validation process to help improve data quality. For example, if a carrier submits tracking data that is old or for the future, this should be identified and ‘cleansed’
    • Carriers which sub-contract and use 3rd parties often experience more data quality and latency issues than those using their own network. Can MetaPack provide solutions to highlight use of 3rd parties and report their data quality?
    • Shippers currently only see data on the delivery journey from the point the carrier accepts the package into the delivery network. Ideally, shippers would like to see and report on the whole journey from the order being placed to final delivery
    • Shippers would like to visually map out the delivery journey as a network map; this would give them insight into transit times between hubs and allow them to optimise the pick operations by potentially delivering to a downstream hub, to result in a cheaper and more effective delivery service

Closing comments

  • The UAG should be renamed to Strategic advisory group where the purpose is to work as a community to highlight market level issues with carriers and invite them to attend to explain their data to the forum
  • Endorsement from the UAG could be used for solutions from the group which would be more powerful than MetaPack ‘selling ‘ the product alone
  • Host future UAGs in retailer locations
  • Keep a stable attendee group and take actions to be reviewed in each session to show progress