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Debenhams streamlines postal management

  • Posted In SME
Debenhams streamlines postal management

STUDY: Debenhams streamlines postal management

STUDY: Debenhams streamlines postal management
Tuesday September 1 2015

Department store retailer improves postage tracking to address large scale and diverse distribution challenges

The UK head office of Debenhams, which accommodates 1,500 staff, is located in London. The department store retailer moved to the current site in 2013 and, in doing so, consolidated four smaller offices into one. 

Operating at a bigger site meant that several processes had to be reviewed and updated – including the tracking and distribution of incoming mail and packages. Debenhams needed a reliable and professional system that could meet the specific distribution challenges they face as a large-scale retailer.

In particular, every day a wide range of items are received that need to be re-distributed to various locations accurately and efficiently. For example: Samples need to go to buyers and designers, who are often working to tight deadlines and need to be notified of the items’ arrival as soon as possible; damaged products that require analysis need to be sent to the relevant department; products for photo shoots need to be sent to the right location in a timely manner; samples and products are often moved between different departments, stores and offices; and, many of the products in question are expensive and therefore need to be accurately tracked and monitored.

Automating postal receipt processes

In order to manage these requirements, Debenhams installed the Sendsuite package tracking and delivery software from supplier Pitney Boweswhich automates the receipt and distribution of mail. Letters and packages are scanned as they arrive and then automatically tracked across the company. If a mail piece is for the attention of a particular member of staff or department a notification email is automatically triggered. For any items that arrive without a barcode, the mailroom team can print a code so that these items can also be tracked in the same way.

Sendsuite also has other functionality to meet a range of needs, including the ability to: Produce reports relating to route activity, productivity and mail received and delivered, in order to analyse performance; take pictures of any suspicious mail items to be sent to the addressee for verification before the item is delivered; provide a secure process for handling and identifying the destination of unaddressed mail known as ‘mystery mail’.

Mo Ahmed, Debenhams’ Soft Services Team Leader, responsible for facilities management at the head office including reprographics and mail, explained how Sendsuite has transformed how the office deals with mail. “Across the four smaller sites we managed our incoming mail and packages by logging items in a spreadsheet. As members of staff came to collect their packages they would sign a book to confirm receipt, and then this information would be transferred to the computer.”

But the old system had several pitfalls. Employees waiting for items had to continuously visit the postroom to check whether they had arrived and staff investigating queries had to comb through the records manually. 

Automating high-volume operations

Ahmed said: “The new office receives approximately 30,000 mail items every month. Clearly our previous system was not capable of managing this volume efficiently.

“Sendsuite means that items are tracked much more accurately and we have seen a significant reduction in the number of lost items and queries that our mailroom staff have to deal with. And when we do receive a query a simple search on the system is all that’s needed to resolve it. 

“In terms of tracking everything that comes in, staff were spending less time looking for packages and dealing with queries,” he explained. “This has been reduced by approximately 80% because, with SendSuite, it is recording everything and it’s quite accurate, as items that come in with a barcode are scanned in so you have an accurate number that matches the barcode for any queries. For items that don’t have one there is an option to print the barcode.

Increasing reporting efficiency

“However, for me, the greatest value of the Sendsuite system is the reporting function,” Ahmed continued. We are able to run reports showing mail volumes by carrier, by time of day, by sender, by recipient and more. We can also analyse which departments receive the most mail. This has enabled us to organise the department and the staff much for effectively.”

He also told Retail Technology: “The reports, in terms of number of items and times, have helped us a lot in terms of how to distribute resource, timing and productivity of staff themselves and porters. We have a picture now which department gets most, less, peak times, etc… So we have an exact vision of what goes on and how to manage it.”

Ahmed also reported that he and his team were impressed with the responsiveness of Pitney Bowes’ aftercare team. “We had very effective training on the system and any issues that we encountered were dealt with very efficiently.

“We investigated a tracking system from a competitor to Pitney Bowes, but the company was unable to meet our installation deadline. Pitney Bowes went that extra mile to make sure that the system was installed when we needed it.

“The Sendsuite system has revolutionised our mailing process making it faster, more secure and efficient, suitable for large retail office like ours.” 

He concluded: “For me, the greatest value of the Sendsuite system is the reporting function. We are able to run reports showing mail volumes by carrier, by time of day, by sender, by recipient and more. We can also analyse which departments receive the most mail.”

Tagged as: Debenhams | back office | mail | postage | packing | parcels | tracking | distribution | barcode | scanning | Pitney Bowes

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