Just as Covid forced the volume of shipments worldwide to rise exponentially, Brexit turned to exporting goods from the UK to Europe into a data minefield.
As a result, Royal Mail found itself struggling to present the required customs data to Ireland and other European destinations.
Royal Mail, therefore, called on its approved delivery management software partner Intersoft to solve the problem.
Why the problem arose
The International Export Direct Entry (IEDE) system enables a parcel to be shipped from one country to the next, quickly and easily by ensuring all the data is correct and can be easily accessed by an operator when they scan a barcode on a parcel.
Before Brexit, Royal Mail customers had been able to create shipments using several platforms, including Royal Mail’s Pro Shipping. As new Brexit regulations were introduced, 49% of shipments to Ireland were being returned due to insufficient customs data (introduced by Brexit).
Retailers who thought they were Brexit-ready actually needed more data for shipments. Missing all the necessary data, many shipments failed to clear customs.
Intersoft needed to adapt the IEDE system so it could ‘find’ the missing data.
Its strategy was to pull together a scrum team to analyse why postal shipments going through Royal Mail were failing – then redevelop the IEDE system to:
- Reduce the number of failures
- Increase the number of passes
- Enable Royal Mail to resume shipping goods commercially from the UK to Ireland and other European destinations post Brexit
With almost half of all shipments to Ireland failing to go through customs, Intersoft had to work quickly.
How Intersoft solved the problem
It moved resources from other projects and pulled together a team of experts. A scrum master was appointed to escalate the risks, mitigate the findings and report them to the architect, who designed the solution. A business analyst then worked with the architect to understand the solution and liaise with developers and testers.
Speeding up optimisation
In similar projects, the discovery and development phase would normally take 4-8 weeks. This team did the IEDE optimisation in just 4 weeks, beginning with a small number of parcels to Ireland.
Work with logistics specialists and Royal Mail had to be carried out using an agile approach. This enabled Intersoft to react to any issues or concerns seen in production and ensure the operation wasn’t impacted. This was facilitated by holding daily catch up meetings with all parties and a clear action plan for any issues raised.
Intersoft provided a ‘manual entry’ enhancement to the IEDE tool to allow Royal Mail operators to enter data that could be present on the shipping label but missing on the data file. This was fundamental to increasing the success of scans as Intersoft found shipments were failing due to missing data, such as destination country, address line 1 or total weight.
Once Intersoft improved the pass rate on shipments to Ireland, it began adding other European countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece.
During a two week test period from 2 November 2021 to 12 November 2021, Intersoft improved the pass rate of shipments flowing through the IEDE platform from 27% on day 1 to 78% on day 12. (See table below.)
Stats: volumes of parcels going through the IEDE platform during test period
As a result, Intersoft helped Royal Mail increase the volume of successful shipments to Ireland from only 20 in July 2021 to an incredible 670 in December 2021.
Shipments that had incurred long delays, additional costs or been refused entry and returned to retailers are now reaching their destinations across Europe. Recipients are receiving goods as expected and retailers reputations have been restored.
The volume of successful shipments continues to grow, and the project is now being rolled out to more countries, including Spain, Greece and Portugal.
Could you benefit from a software specialist in overcoming carrier integration challenges to help your retail, warehouse or fulfilment scale? Contact Intersoft today to discuss more.