There are few brands better known than Harrods. Its iconic department store in Knightsbridge, London, is home to 1m sq. ft of retail space, 330 departments, over 3,000 brands and around 15 million visitors per year.
What is not widely known is that this luxurious, beautifully designed store also delivers a phenomenal volume of shipments to customers worldwide, directly from Knightsbridge.
Central to that vast distribution and delivery service is Harrods’ 18-year-long partnership with Intersoft, a leading carrier management software provider.
Achieving the Harrods’ standard
When you’re renowned for luxury goods, breathtaking displays, designer brands and white-gloved service, you expect your delivery service to be equally deluxe.
Mitul Shah, Harrods Delivery General Manager, says: “Our customers stay in the best hotels, eat in the best restaurants, and experience a premium service wherever they go. So, when they come to Harrods, they expect that premium service front and back of house. Deliveries must arrive on time, be beautifully packaged, and represent the brand.”
For Intersoft, that means providing Harrods with the level of service it provides its customers. Claudia Duarte, Intersoft’s Sales Operations Manager is constantly liaising between the Harrods’ distribution team and Intersoft software developers to provide the flexible, bespoke, multi-carrier solution Harrods requires.
“Working closely with Harrods is all about mirroring their luxury experience. I bridge the gap, ensuring our multi-carrier solution aligns with their brand’s unique position.” Claudia Duarte, Customer Operations Manager, Intersoft
Building a new platform
Harrods initially engaged Intersoft back in 2006, with their partnership commencing through the use of Parcelforce services.
While Harrods does have a fleet of famous green and gold vans for local deliveries, the use of third-party courier services, including DHL Express and DPD, is a significant factor in Harrods’ continued partnership with Intersoft. Intersoft’s API enables Harrods to work with multiple carriers without having to liaise with each one separately.
Since 2007, Intersoft has continued to develop its API to provide customers like Harrods with a more efficient service. In 2020, Intersoft launched a brand new .net version of its carrier management platform – which would provide Harrods with an even better range of delivery management features, including Silent Printing, Order Tracking, Quoting and Shipment Reporting
Having built the previous Intersoft system over 15 years to be flexible in order to meet Harrods’ customers’ expectations, moving to the new Software as a Service (SaaS) and .net technology in 2020 wasn’t without its teething problems.
“It took us a year working together to migrate to the new API,” explains Mitul. “Yes, there were huge challenges as we had to work out how we were going to migrate so many customisations from the old platform. But from a functionality point of view, three years in, the technology is good, and the new system is far superior.”
In fact, in developing the solution for Harrods, Intersoft has also been able to further improve the API’s features for other clients.
From purchase to delivery
With so many of us shopping online these days, where we are solely reliant on technology, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where a purchase is made face-to-face in-store and the order fulfilled with so much human involvement. But this is Harrods, and it’s common practice for a sales assistant or white-gloved Green Man to physically carry the printed order from the sales desk to the stock room.
Harrods’ store sales come in many disguises. Many customers walk into the store, buy products at the till and choose a delivery option at the sales desk. Others purchase goods via Harrods’ personal shoppers, who advise customers on product lines. Some professional shoppers buy on behalf of their clients, who might live abroad or want anonymity. And some customers buy several products, from several departments and concessions within the store, but want them all packaged and delivered at the same time.
All these different purchase and delivery options must be incorporated into the same order management system and fulfilled without hiccups.
Through a series of rules assigned to an order, Intersoft’s shipping platform imports data from the cash register, produces a label and integrates that data with Harrods’ SAP management software.
Mitul explains: “The label is physically brought from the store to the despatch team, who scan the label, locate the product, pack it, scan it out and do a closeout. They’ll then hand it over to the carrier, and then Intersoft’s solutions sends us the tracking and the PODs (proof of delivery). The team can then add notes to that shipment, do their pricing, put things on hold, anything that’s required for that order.”
Intersoft’s carrier platform also connects with Harrods’ Paragon routing and Microlise vehicle tracking systems for its famous local green van deliveries.
Multiple carrier integration
One of the key benefits of working with Intersoft is the ability to integrate multiple carriers and services seamlessly into the application.
Mitul continues: “We need this to remain flexible and ensure we have a suite of choices to handle some of our more complex deliveries. The interface and tracking solutions are easy to use, making it possible for the teams to do their jobs effectively.”
Due to the intricate nature of their product offerings and the diverse locations of their customers, Harrods utilizes a variety of carriers. These include well-known shipping providers such as DPD, DHL Express, and their in-house vehicle fleet, as well as approximately 15 specialized carriers and delivery services.
“Intersoft is very responsive to our needs,” adds Mitul. “They understand our delivery service is unique and that it’s essential for the system to be flexible.”
Taking time to understand the business
One factor that Mitul mentions for the success of the 18-year partnership is Intersoft’s investment of time in comprehending the intricacies of the Harrods business. While many suppliers would put unreasonable limitations on a service to make savings for themselves, Intersoft puts Harrods’ needs first and tries to find a solution to all its requests.
“Harrods is Britain’s most iconic retailer, and we’re honoured to have served Harrods for over 18 years to streamline their shipping operations globally. Our carrier management solution gives Harrods fast and easy access to our carrier library, automating delivery selection for each order, ultimately enabling them to fulfil their delivery promise to their customers.” – James Thomas, Managing Director, Intersoft